By AHMED QURAISHI
Israeli-Zionist Envoy Anne Patterson Attacks Shireen Mazari
Anne Patterson vs. Shireen Mazari
Finally, the Americans take their revenge. Dr. Mazari single-handedly
threw cold water on Washington’s plan last year to send a rabidly anti-
Pakistani US army general as defense attache to Islamabad. The
Pakistani government quietly accepted the appointment. But Dr. Mazari
broke the story and aborted the plan. When the new pro-US elected
government seized power, Mr. Zardari’s special assistant Husain
Haqqani’s first order of business was to fire Dr. Mazari from her
official post. And now the US ambassador succeeds in blocking her
column. Welcome to the Banana Republic of Pakistan where soon US
ambassadors will have the right to appoint presidents and prime
ministers. Some say they already do.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 3 September 2009 (www.AhmedQuraishi.com) – United
States Ambassador Anne W. Patterson intervened with one of the largest
newspaper groups in Pakistan to force it to block today [Wednesday] a
decade-old weekly column by a prominent academic and critic of US
Dr. Shireen Mazari, the former director of the Islamabad Institute of
Strategic Studies and a mordant critic of US blunders in Pakistan and
the region, was stunned when her column failed to appear in today’s
edition of the newspaper. This happened after the US ambassador sent a
‘private’ letter to the management [Editor-in-Chief: Mir Shakil-ur-
Rahman – Group Chairman: Mir Javed Rahman] of The News International,
one of the largest English-language dailies of Pakistan.
This is a new high for American influence inside Pakistan.
Never before did a US ambassador manage to force such a change in a
newspaper’s policy. For those who are new to Pakistan, this is
equivalent to having Maureen Dowd or Tom Friedman’s column knocked off
the pages of The New York Times because Dick Cheney does not like
Unlike Ms. Patterson in Pakistan, her colleague in London, ambassador
Louis Susman, could never dream of achieving a similar feat by, say,
convincing The Times of London to block a column by David Aaronovitch.
Or the US ambassador in Moscow, John Beylre, Jr., who could never even
think of forcing Komsomolskaya Pravda to do anything remotely similar.
They have Vladimir Putin in Russia who knows how to protect his
Only in Pakistan, where American meddling has reached alarming
proportions and risks turning this second largest Muslim country and
the world’s seventh declared nuclear-armed nation into another version
of Latin America’s banana republics where Washington has been known to
change governments at will.
The US achieved a feat last year when it forced the country’s military
establishment under a weak and insecure Pervez Musharraf to strike a
‘deal’ to forgive the questionable illegal wealth and other criminal
cases against several Pakistani political figures in order to help
them come to power in exchange for supporting US policies in Pakistan.
Another major break for Washington is Pakistan’s acquiescence in the
construction in Islamabad of what will soon become the largest US
embassy in the world. Recently, members of privately armed US militias
have been spotted in Islamabad, in some cases roughing up Pakistani
citizens, without the Pakistani government daring to take action.
But blocking Dr. Mazari’s column is a new high for American influence
in Pakistani affairs.
She especially earned the ire of the Americans last year when she
single handedly threw cold water on US plans to post a notoriously
anti-Pakistan US army general to Islamabad. It was March 2008 when the
new pro-US government in Islamabad allowed Washington to post Major
General Jay W. Hood as the Chief, Office of the Defence Representative
But Dr. Mazari broke the news of the appointment through her column,
creating an uproar and forcing the Pakistani government to reject the
Dr. Mazari held a press conference today at the Islamabad head office
of Pakistan Justice Movement, or PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf –
www.insaf.pk], a political party headed by cricket star Imran Khan
where she is a senior official handling foreign policy issues.
Ambassador Anne Patterson is reported to have sent a letter to the
management of the newspaper protesting at Dr. Mazari’s writings,
especially on the question of the presence of Blackwater [Worldwide –
Xe Services – http://rebelreports.com] and other private American
militias on Pakistani soil. Interestingly, Ms. Patterson said she did
not want to see her letter published in the newspaper and insisted it
be kept private. It is also not clear if Ms. Patterson actually
threatened legal action or other form of protest or pressure if the
newspaper continued to publish Dr. Mazari’s columns.
The newspaper editorial team is said to be ready to publish the
blocked column later, possibly with some editing. Frankly, no one can
blame a newspaper for protecting its interest when the very government
of Pakistan seems incapable of protecting the national interest. Had
Pakistan had a truly nationalistic government in Islamabad, one that
inspired confidence, I can imagine that any newspaper would have
politely deflected undue pressure from a foreign diplomat.
But the very fact that the column failed to run marks a victory for
the US embassy and a fresh sign of the growing US influence and
meddling in Pakistan’s internal matters.
It is not clear if Ms. Patterson sought the permission of the Pakistan
Foreign Office before directly contacting a Pakistani newspaper to
This is the fourth attempt by the US Embassy to silence Dr. Mazari,
whose incisive political commentary based on her close brush with
power corridors in Islamabad over the years has given the Americans
and the Brits a constant headache. Her columns are fodder for those
who advocate a more nationalistic and Pakistan-centric approach in
dealing with Washington instead of the current approach where the
United States is reaping strategic benefits at the expense of
Pakistan’s interests and stability.
In 2006, the US ambassador at the time, Ryan Crocker, is reported to
have warned Pakistan’s foreign secretary Mr. Riaz Khokar that he will
consider Dr. Mazari’s writings to be reflective of official Pakistani
thinking because Dr. Mazari was heading a think-tank financed by the
Foreign Office. The US diplomat demanded Dr. Mazari, according to her,
be removed from office or told to stop criticizing US policies.
The foreign secretary resisted the pressure and Dr. Mazari continued
her policy discourse. The interesting thing is that the first order of
business for the present pro-US government in Islamabad after seizing
power last year was to fire Dr. Mazari.
Her ousting was engineered by Mr. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s
ambassador to Washington who is widely known in Pakistan as a staunch
American apologist. Many jokingly call him ‘America’s ambassador to
the Pakistani embassy in Washington.’ So it was no surprise that Dr.
Mazari was fired as soon Mr. Haqqani’s government came in power.
I personally faced a similar situation when a US diplomat telephoned
me in November 2007 to accuse me of spreading ‘anti-Americanism’ on
the state-run PTV. My ‘crime’ was to start a series of talk shows
discussing how our ally the US turned Afghanistan into a hub for anti-
Pakistan forces in the region. The lady US diplomat used a cheap trick
to intimidate me when she asked: ‘Does Musharraf know what you’re
My answer was, ‘Does President Bush know when US media frequently runs
Dr. Mazari is not disheartened by this episode. ‘They might have
knocked me off this time,’ she told me today after her press
conference, ‘but the last round will be mine. The Americans can’t gag
me in my own country.’ And that is exactly what the newspaper, The
News International, has assured her of.
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