WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s current envoy to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi apparently acted as an informal messenger between the Obama administration and former army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to an email former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received from a senior aide.
On Friday, the US State Department released some 1,000 pages of emails of Ms Clinton when she headed the department but sometimes used a private email and a private server to communicate.
In one of the emails, Vali Nasr, then a senior adviser in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, informs Secretary Clinton that Ms Lodhi had shared with him a message from Gen Kayani.
“I got a call from Maleeha Lodhi, who is in London. She gave a message from Kayani,” Mr Nasr wrote on January 21, 2011.
But the entire message that Ms Lodhi supposedly shared with Mr Nasr has been edited out.
Ms Lodhi, who has also served as Pakistan’s ambassador in the US and Britain, was not a government official when she supposedly conveyed this message. She was a prominent columnist for Pakistani and international newspapers. Mr Nasr, a prominent academic, has lived in Pakistan and has many friends in the country.
The text shows that Mr Nasr’s message ran into two paragraphs and was sent three days after Raymond Davis was arrested on charges of killing two men in Lahore. The incident had resulted in a crisis in the US-Pak relationship.
On Jan 30, 2011, Secretary Clinton asked her aide Lauren C. Jiloty to print the mail. “Please print,” she wrote in the email with the subject “latest from Pakistan on Kayani 3.0”.
While most emails about Pakistan have been heavily redacted, one does contain the entire text of the July 3, 2012 phone call between Secretary Clinton and Pakistan’s then foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
“I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November. I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives,” Ms Clinton writes.
On Nov 26, 2011, US helicopters and planes attacked a Pakistani military post at Salala, near the Afghan border, and killed 28 Pakistani soldiers. The incident further strained already tense relations between Pakistan and the United States and Islamabad demanded an apology from Washington over this incident.
While Washington did issue a brief statement regretting the incident, the email contains details that have never been disclosed publicly.
“Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military,” Secretary Clinton wrote.
“We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again,” she said.
“As I told the former prime minister of Pakistan days after the Salala incident, America respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and is committed to working together in pursuit of shared objectives on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect,” she said.
Ms Clinton said that in this telephone call foreign minister Khar and she also talked “about the importance of taking coordinated action against terrorists who threaten Pakistan, the US and the region.”
She also emphasised the need for “supporting Afghanistan’s security, stability and efforts towards reconciliation”.
Ms Clinton also talked about and “continuing to work together to advance the many other shared interests we have, from increasing trade and investment to strengthening our people-to-people ties”.
She told Ms Khar that the US and Pakistan “should have a relationship that is enduring, strategic and carefully defined and that enhances the security and prosperity of both our nations and the region”.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2016