Pakistan Offered Nuke Concessions in Plea for U.S. Aid: Report

A secret memorandum purportedly instigated by Pakistan's civilian government in the aftermath of the May killing of Osama bin Laden offered new nuclear-weapon security measures and pledged to weed out terrorist sympathizers within the nation's military if the United States informed the head of the nation's army that a coup would not be tolerated, the Washington Post reported on Thursday (see GSN, Nov. 9).

The killing of the al-Qaeda leader by U.S. special forces was seen as an embarrassment to the Pakistani security establishment, which had long insisted bin Laden was not hiding in the country, according to previous reports. Many in Washington suspect that some members of the Pakistani army and intelligence service knew of the terrorist leader's longtime hideout in the town of Abbottabad.

Fearing that the powerful Pakistani army and its leader, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, were considering toppling his civilian government, President Asif Ali Zardari allegedly used his top envoy in Washington, Ambassador Husain Haqqani, to send the message to then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen.

The message, in the form of an unsigned memo, promised that if Mullen would let it be known to Kayani in no uncertain terms that a coup would not be accepted by the United States, Zardari's government would beef up protection of the nation's nuclear arsenal and take other security steps long sought by Washington (Brulliard/DeYoung, Washington Post, Nov. 17).

The quality of security surrounding Pakistan's nuclear weapons has been a long-running concern in the United States, though Washington publicly maintains it has faith that the army can defend its warheads against misuse or theft. Fears that the United States or India is plotting to seize the weapons have historically caused Islamabad to refuse to share many details regarding how it protects its nuclear weapons.

"The new national security team is prepared, with full backing of the Pakistani government ... to develop an acceptable framework of discipline for the nuclear program. This effort was begun under the previous military regime, with acceptable results. We are prepared to reactivate those ideas and build on them in a way that brings Pakistan's nuclear assets under a more verifiable, transparent regime," reads the memo, carried in full by the News International (News International, Nov. 15).

The memo promised to establish a civilian national security unit to probe how bin Laden was able to spend so many years undetected in Pakistan, and to weed out and expel any "active service officers" that may have been involved in sheltering him, the Post reported.

Additionally, Islamabad would turn over to the United States any other al-Qaeda commanders still in the country, as well as Haqqani network commander Sirajuddin Haqqani and Taliban leader Mohammad Omar. Another option would be for Islamabad to give the Pentagon a "green light to conduct the necessary operations to capture or kill them on Pakistani soil," the memo states.

The message also promises that Islamabad would prosecute the organizers of the 2008 terrorist strikes on the Indian city of Mumbai and shut down the Pakistani intelligence service's "Section S," which manages ties with extremist organizations.

A U.S. man of Pakistani descent, Mansoor Ijaz claimed in an commentary carried in October by the Financial Times that Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to Washington, had requested that he pass the memo to Mullen (Brulliard/DeYoung, Washington Post). Though unsigned, the document was sent on behalf of "the members of the new national security team who will be inducted by the President of Pakistan with your support in this undertaking" (News International).

Ijaz reportedly e-mailed the memo to Mullen on May 11, the Post reported.

This week, Haqqani offered to resign from his diplomatic post in Washington. Islamabad has rejected the memo reports as "fictitious."

A Mullen spokesman verified to Foreign Policy magazine that the ex-chairman had received the document, which he said was not viewed as a serious offer nor treated as such (Brulliard/DeYoung, Washington Post).

November 18, 2011
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A secret memorandum purportedly instigated by Pakistan's civilian government in the aftermath of the May killing of Osama bin Laden offered new nuclear-weapon security measures and pledged to weed out terrorist sympathizers within the nation's military if the United States informed the head of the nation's army that a coup would not be tolerated, the Washington Post reported on Thursday (see GSN, Nov. 9).

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