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WikiLeaks: Kayani plotted to topple Zardari

Last updated on: December 2, 2010 14:19 IST

WikiLeaks: Kayani planned to topple Zardari

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Pakistani Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had mulled toppling Asif Ali Zardari and the civilian President had even made preparations for a coup or assassination, leaked US diplomatic cables have said.

The latest tranche of WikiLeaks published in the media has revealed that Zardari had made extensive preparations in case of his own assassination and instructed his son Bilawal to name his sister, Faryal Talpur, as president.

The shadowy conspiracies and the tensions between the President Zardari and the powerful army has come out as Kayani is quoted as telling the US Ambassador during a March 2009 meeting that he "might however reluctantly" pressure Zardari to resign.

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Kayani was quoted as saying that he might support Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Awami National Party as the new President-- and not Zardari's arch foe Nawaz Sharif. The powerful Army Chief revealed that he had little time for the leader of the opposition Sharif.

"Kayani made it clear regardless how much he dislikes Zardari, he distrusted Nawaz Sharif even more," the US Ambassador Anne Patterson wrote.

The cables revealed that the US vice president told British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that Zardari had told him "Kayani will take me out".

Guardian quoting the leaked documents said, Zardari is frank about the strength of the Taliban -- "I'm sorry to say this but we are not winning" the war against extremists he told US Vice-President Joe Biden.


Image: Standing behind Zardari is Asfandyar Wali Khan

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"I am not Benazir, and I know it," Zardari told US ambassador Anne Patterson after his wife's death.

The Pakistan President reportedly feared a fresh army coup.

According to the 'Guardian' report based on US cables, Pakistan opposition leader Nawaz Sharif had a "notoriously difficult personality" while his family is noted to have "relied primarily on the army and intelligence agencies for political elevation".

In a May 2008 meeting with a visiting American Congressional delegation, Zardari reportedly said: "We won't act without consulting with you."

Sharif repeatedly told the US ambassador that he was "pro-American", despite his often-critical public stance. He thanked the US for "arranging" to have Kayani appointed as army chief.

"The best thing America has done recently," he said.




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"The fact that a former prime minister believes the US could control the appointment of Pakistan's chief of army staff speaks volumes about the myth of American influence here," the Ambassador noted afterwards.

After General Pervez Musharraf resigned as president in 2008, ambassador Patterson pressed Zardari to grant him immunity from prosecution.

"We believed, as we had often said, that Musharraf should have a dignified retirement and not be hounded out of the country," she said.

The US and Kayani worried that Zardari would renege on his word.

"Zardari is walking tall these days, hopefully not too tall to forget his promise to Kayani and to us on an immunity deal," wrote Patterson. If Zardari didn't protect Musharraf, then it would make him look bad.

"I have to bring the army along with me," he said, also noting that the delay "does nothing for Zardari's reputation for trustworthiness".


Image: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Anne Patterson

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