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Khurshid Kasuri
Confidential American cables obtained by Dawn through WikiLeaks reveal former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri as reported to have said, “We are the only Muslim country with such weapons and don’t want anyone else to get it.” - AFP file photo

KARACHI: Even as revelations about Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear trafficking were raising concerns about possible military involvement in proliferation activities, the Musharraf regime appears to have been actively dissuading Iran, one of Dr Khan’s clients, from developing nuclear weapons.

Confidential American cables obtained by Dawn through WikiLeaks reveal that in a series of meetings with senior Iranian officials Gen Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri took a hard line against any Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear-weapons capability.

Pakistani officials also served as interlocutors between Iran and the US, reporting to the Americans on these meetings and relaying messages between the two countries.

At least seven such meetings or phone calls took place with the Iranians and 11 with the Americans in 2006 alone.

A May 2006 cable about Gen Musharraf’s meeting with Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoodi reported that “according to Kasuri, Musharraf told the visitors that Iran should stop all efforts to enrich uranium now, adding that Tehran was making life difficult for its neighbour, Pakistan”.

Later that year, Mr Kasuri would tell the Americans that over the past three years he had “made it his mission to persuade Tehran not to provoke a conflict over Iran’s nuclear program thus endangering regional — and Pakistan’s domestic — security”.

Based on the frequency of reporting to American officials on the issue, toeing the US line seems to have been one motivation for this deep involvement. But in an April 2006 meeting with US Senator Chuck Hagel, Mr Kasuri provided a list of other reasons why Pakistan was so keen to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

‘“We are the only Muslim country [with such weapons],”’ he said, ‘“and don’t want anyone else to get it.”’

Mr Kasuri was also worried that because Pakistan was “a perceived US ‘stooge’ ”, an American attack on Iran would “embarrass Pakistan in the Muslim world”, possibly lead to Iran “destabilising” the country and “inflame sectarian tensions” at home.

The conversation took place against the backdrop of Iran’s announcement earlier that month that it had successfully enriched uranium.

Mr Kasuri offered his advice on the development, insisting that the announcement was a “‘PR stunt’” since Iran’s enrichment capabilities were “‘not a new thing’” and that the US should simply “‘humour them’” instead of responding militarily.

“During a visit to Pakistan,” the cable added, “Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, has asked Kasuri to talk to the Americans. Kasuri had said he would do so on one condition, that Iran’s program had to be independently verifiable.”

This was the role an anxious Mr Kasuri would continue to play that year, urging the US to talk to Iran and the latter to back off from weapons development.

Before an upcoming visit with President Ahmedinejad on the sidelines of a D-8 conference of developing Muslim countries in May 2008, Prime Minister Aziz had also “asked if [the Americans] had any advice”.

Mr Kasuri later updated the US Embassy on this visit, reporting that Mr Aziz and the Turkish prime minister “met privately with Ahmedinejad, conveying a direct message that Tehran must … forego its weapons program.

“Aziz and Erdogan also condemned Ahmedinejad’s statements attacking Israel as completely unacceptable …

“Aziz urged Ahmedinejad to publicly announce that Iran would immediately place a moratorium on uranium enrichment, in order to give the EU-3 an opening to re-engage Tehran in constructive dialogue.”

Later that month, when the US announced its willingness to join the EU-3 in talks with Iran, the American ambassador informed Mr Kasuri that “the US expects Pakistan to vigorously support the US action. FM Kasuri agreed, saying that he would ensure that the MFA issued a statement of support immediately.”

By 11pm that night a statement had been issued, and Mr Kasuri followed this up with a call to the Iranian foreign minister urging Iran “to announce an immediate suspension of its enrichment program in order to give dialogue a chance”.

This phone call was, again, promptly reported to the American ambassador, who commented that “Kasuri may be wildly worried that he has gone out on a limb by endorsing the Secretary [of State’s] statement so vigorously.”

Interactions continue for the rest of the year, and in December 2006, “fresh off his plane from Tehran, Foreign Minister Kasuri briefed the ambassador … regarding his conversations with President Ahmedinejad, FM Muttaki, former President Rafsanjani …

“Although the MFA had publicly described the foreign minister’s visit as centring on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, Kasuri told the ambassador that he discussed a number of other topics, such as nuclear policy, Lebanon and Iraq.” Mr Kasuri then went on to provide a detailed report on his nuclear-policy discussions in Tehran.

In the last such cable written during the Musharraf government, the ambassador noted in March 2007 that “Foreign Minister Kasuri says he has told Iranian Foreign Minster Muttaki that Iran must change its unrealistic and destabilising stances toward Israel, the US and nuclear issues.…

“President Musharraf visited Tehran in February … According to [Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad] Khan, Musharraf met with Ahmedinejad to … ‘clearly convey concerns that Iranian confrontation (with the US and the west) must be prevented.’”

Cables referenced: WikiLeaks # 60762, 64511, 65800, 66183, 66432, 91041, 101153.

Comments (32) Closed

S. T. Hasan Jul 09, 2011 04:02pm
Musharraf Government was a responsible government and had a pragmatic approach. The actions taken were in the interest of Pakistan. Alas we have now a government with no credibility and no real power to bring changes and all of its actors and actions are flimsy and of no value to either Pakistan or to the world.
syed baqar ahsan Jul 09, 2011 04:52pm
what did Pakistan gain in the end working so hard on USA pressure "nothing",even the gas pipeline is not in sight.In nation interest,one gains when doing others job.
Dr abdul jamil khan Jul 09, 2011 05:10pm
Pakistan's maturity: Informative piece but this has been the presumtion all along.There has been reports of India's help to iran in nuclear area and US in fact had blacklisted some companies. Pakistan, after all is most important NON NATO ally. WHY this news at this time , is the next question ? IS US contemplating to give civilian reactors ala India ?
sayed athar husain Jul 09, 2011 05:54pm
I think Kasuri needed no pursuasion to Iran. A Shia faith nation does not pursue a programme to produce weapons of mass destruction. Pakistan should take lead in pursuading the world powers to destroy their nuclear bombs. And Pakistan should be first to do it.
G.A. Jul 09, 2011 06:02pm
@S. T. Hassan - Musharraf stole power from an elected representative albeit a corrupt one but elected nevertheless. He sat on it until getting booted out. How responsible is that?
Amjad Jul 09, 2011 06:10pm
Shows how much much of a stooge the Musharraf dictatorship was. Not only was it ignoring the Pakistani nation, it was wasting time worrying about pursuing the agenda of others when it's against Pakistan's interests. Look how India took nuclear aid given by western powers as donation and used it to militarize South Asia and build nuclear weapons. They only look after their own interests and will deceive anyone to build their own weapons. The world ignores this reality while it pushes pressure on other nations. There is a lesson in this.
Mohammad Masood Jul 09, 2011 06:28pm
Musharraf's Government is reightly termed as American stooges. He sold Pakistan cheap to the Americans and stabbed the Muslim Ummah in the back whenever, he got pressured by the Americans.
Amjad Wyne Jul 09, 2011 06:36pm
I think that the right perspective would be, "Musharraf stole power from the thieves and the thugs, the incapable and the corrupt - good for nothing". Just calling our lot of politicians "corrupt" is an injustice.
jamal hussain dorgi Jul 09, 2011 06:42pm
Even if he stole gov, he did the right thing. Neither ppp nor pmln should be allowed to be part of gov.
Fuad Rashid Jul 09, 2011 07:01pm
Shah g i fail to understand the meaning of " A shia faith nation does not pursue a programme to produce weapons of mass destruction". All self respecting nations irrespective of their religious ideology ensure that they must develop any sort of weapon that is required to deter any potential adversary from engaging in misadventure. We dont know the authenticity of the information leaked through wikileaks. Washington has never been interested in having meaningful and equal relations with either Pakistan or Iran, and they will stop at nothing to reach their objectives even if that means creating bad relations between the two neighbouring countries, eventually leading to war to destabilize both of these muslim countries.
Yousuf Hasan Jul 09, 2011 09:31pm
What contemplating? The US and India have already signed and ratified an agreement to transfer nuclear technology to India. Sirjee, not everything in this world is a conspiracy against Pakistan
ThirdWorldCharlie Jul 09, 2011 09:43pm
If a 'honest' person steals from a thief, he becomes a thief.
Abbas Jul 09, 2011 10:13pm
Dear Brother, Islam has clearly defined limits or else whole earth will go downt the drain. I don't know how much difference Islamic schools of thoughts have about war strategy but Shia school of Thought strictly prohibits "weapons of mass destruction" as it blindly destroys the life and surroundings. One can not punish humanuity for the crimes of few rutless regimes. It is just like "Jirga Style Justice". WMDs are dangerous for the earth and humanity. If Pakistan has already made it as a self deterrent its another issue but what is a use if you do not want to use it (As it's use is prohibited by Islamic Law). Only America and Israel are beast enough to use WMDs and Poisnous gases againt their counterparts to fullfill their hunger for land and resources.Muslims do not want to be compared with beasts on the day of Judgement. For the last 33 years Iran has used diplomacy and survived all the USA restrctions and have maintained peace for their citizens. Atleast we can learn something from them how they have done it after surviving 10 years of US Imposed War.
Saeed Jul 10, 2011 01:22am
Heard this line too many times. What happened after Musharraf? Did Pakistan get a good bargain? Present set up messed up everything. Earlier, politicians were claiming that the development during Musharaf period was becuase of American Aid. What happened to the money we received in the last 3 and half years? Instead of Progress, we had a rapid downhill slide. What a nation Pakistan is. Can not distinguish a good leader from a bad one. No wonder, the result of our choices is in front of everyone.
Mirza Imran Ahsan Jul 10, 2011 01:51am
It does not matter if one is Shia or Sunni, a person following Imam Hussain's footsteps must be careful with what impact he may have on society and the innocents during wars. Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate weapons, and humans must shun their manufacture. But if your enemey has one than you have a right to make one.
Mirza Imran Ahsan Jul 10, 2011 01:57am
Well, the elected PM removed the sitting COAS in a humiliating manner while he was sharing stage with Indian Vice COAS in Sri Lanka, PM did not follow military act passed in 1950s with stipulates the manner to remove and install a new COAS. During his time Supreme Court was attacked, a President, a Chief Justice and a previous COAS were removed too for political reasons. Nawaz was the most destablising person in our democratic history. If he would have done it when Musharraf returned from Sri Lanka, Musharraf would have no authority to challenge it.
Dawood Jul 10, 2011 01:57am
I totally agree, that neither of them should be allowed to govern. But the big question is that who is trust worthy in this country, all the alternative politicians are no good either whether its MMA or ANP. The system is so damn corrupt and I think its impossible to change it now.
A. B. Jul 10, 2011 03:48am
Just compare economic conditions of the country today with Musharraf period. We must try to understand what should be our goals. Then GDP growth remained consistently high, PSDP remained in big numbers, so many projects were either completed or initiated e.g. Gawader Port, canals-Rainey Canal, Thal Canal, Mangla Height raising, Gomal Zam Dam & so on. What happened to Soviet Union - it disintegrated due to poor economy despite having thousands of nuclear weapons. Country debt was drastically brought down. Rupee keot stable parity for years. Karachi got so many flyovers & underpasses. Let us NOT be emotional. What is happening to our economy-lot of foreign & local debt, very high inflation due to Govt uncontrolled borrowing from State Bank & banking system for its lavish spending. There is a corruption scandal every other day. Country has 18000 MW plus installed generation capacity, close to power demand but actual generation has stuck at 12-14000 MW due to circular debt problem,which could not be resolved during last more than 3 years of present Govt. Govt corporations are loosing 300-400 billion rupees annually due to massive corruption. Hope is lost when same party wins bye-elections despite a dismal performance in governance.
Hassan Jul 10, 2011 05:20am
Definitely, Musharraf was the best compared to all other politicians . Look at the economy's situation now and then.
Raja bilal Jul 10, 2011 05:58am
The most shameful fact of the whole piece is that Mr kasuri was reporting back to the american embassador as if she was his superior....truly shameful.
Bilal Jul 10, 2011 09:29am
A. none of us in our individual right have the authority to call an elected govt not worth ruling the country. its is for the people to decide. generally speaking, the govt/politicians are as corrupt as we are in our individual lives. so please stop this holier-than-thow claims like the military dictators who have ruined the country since its inception. the law provides a solution, either try them in courts or vote them out through ballot.We've seen enough of 'short-circuiting' by knights in shining armour in 64 years...its about time we act like honorable nations and follow laws if we're to survive the next decade without killing each other in karachi, FATA, Balauchistan and elsewhere. B.What makes everyone think that the wikileaks are to be trusted ? So why waste time on them ? We know for sure that the power corridors in pakistan's are filled with apologists and traitors, and the people want to see pakistan move towards a totally different(if not opposite) direction. so take all these wikileaks with a pinch of salt.don't just blindly believe them.
Adnan Jul 10, 2011 10:43am
So pleased to know our governmment displayed such a mature and responible position in global politics! Well done Musharraf. mess If we wish to be respected by the world, we first must earn that respect with a globally responsible and may I add 'non-corrupt' behavior.
asad Jul 10, 2011 12:07pm
truely said Faud.
asad Jul 10, 2011 12:18pm
"over the past three years he [Mr. Kasuri] had “made it his mission to persuade Tehran not to provoke a conflict over Iran’s nuclear program..."" . Of all the pressing issues at hand, our foreign minister had made his mission something which shouldn't concern Pakistan at all. after ZA Bhutto, Pakistan has experienced one after another American stooge government. Is this called independence??
tg Jul 10, 2011 02:01pm
"Foreign Minister Kasuri says he has told Iranian Foreign Minster Muttaki that Iran must change its unrealistic and destabilising stances toward Israel, the US and nuclear issues.…" Absolutely shameful. Pakistan sold its sovereignty long ago to the West and they are living the consequences of their actions.
Ali Ghauri Jul 10, 2011 02:07pm
No government can run without US interest being served. The point is to serve their interest but not at the cost of general public interest on stake. which is what exactly is happening right now under this goverment (PPP). Musharraf with all those wrongs did some good though it was temporary. These foreign affairs is not just a matter of whats right and whats wrong. its a question of thinking rationally and smartly. I do not say what musharraf gov did was right but it helped. No the other hand, musharraf was no different from others in takeing dictation from US and had been very good in it. These Top Generals have a tendency of obeying US otherwise they wont be at these positons.
Shafi Jul 10, 2011 03:04pm
Amjad You are 100% right. The situation is the same to day.
Shafi Jul 10, 2011 03:06pm
Amjad You are 100% right. The situation remains unchanged.
Anwar Mahmood Jul 10, 2011 05:10pm
We want safe Pakistan and must stay out of troubles serving others interests.
amir haryani Jul 14, 2011 11:21am
it is the bad luck of pakistani people/public that unfortunately we had and we have most corrupt leaders after the great M. Ali Jinnah, Ayub khan and Zia Ul Haq.
Syed Ali Raza Shah Jul 23, 2011 05:44pm
No sir, it is not a shame! Incidentally Pakistan did try to mind its business and take care of its sole interests. I have no problem if we could somehow convince Iranians and some other "brotherly" nations to give up their weapons development programs. It would surely make our western borders safer and we might eventually do some business as well. Otherwise the well-being of Arabs and Iranians has never been a cause of concern for me. If Pakistan can make a quick buck out of those fellows, why not?! Apr 06, 2012 01:10am
What a joke!! HA! Ha! Ha!, Here is a man that we can not trust. Was he not speaking of peace with India and preparing for invasion of Gilgit? I wonder if he was trying to sell nuke technology to Iran as his countrymen had done with the blessing of Ding Zhao Ping