The following is an unconfirmed and unverified account of a person who wishes to remain anonymous. The account is the narration of experiences of a senior foreign ministry official who, according to the writer, was privy to ZA Bhutto-Henry Kissinger talk and later witness to General Ziaul Haq's outburst of anger against US in front of its ambassador.
The question of veracity of this write-up remains unanswered and the identity and whereabouts of the official and the author of this story are yet to be ascertained, it makes for interesting reading, nevertheless:
It was the year 1976 and the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was on a visit to Pakistan, to meet the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulkiqar Ali Bhutto. The Americans wanted Pakistan to give up their nuclear project, and Henry Kissinger was on a mission to deliver the US President's message to Bhutto. Mr Bhutto listened to Kissinger very patiently and then addressed him, "you are my friend, please advise me what I should do." Kissinger smiled a bit, and said softly, "Mr Prime Minister! In the game of diplomacy and power, nobody is any one else's friend. I am only a messenger at this time. You should consult one of your own advisors". Bhutto smiled and replied in a beautiful tone, "I still consider you my friend despite that and so request your advice." Henry Kissinger laughed heartily, and looking at Bhutto, said, "you are really a chess master." Bhutto stared at him silently.
Kissinger waited for a while, and said in a cultured tone, "Basically I have come not to advise, but to warn you. USA has numerous reservations about Pakistan's atomic programme; therefore you have no way out, except agreeing to what I say". Bhutto smiled and asked, "suppose I refuse, then what?" Henry Kissinger became dead serious.
He locked his eyes on Bhutto's and spewed out deliberately, "Then we will make a horrible example of you!" Bhutto's face flushed. He stood up, extended his hand towards Kissinger and said, "Pakistan can live without the US President. Now your people will have to find some other ally in this region." Bhutto then turned and went out.
This story was related to me by a senior foreign ministry official, who became quite friendly with General Ziaul Haq after Bhutto, and gradually rose in rank to join the General's elite close circle. In 1987 Russian forces started evacuating Afghanistan, and President General Ziaul Haq was left isolated all of a sudden.
It was a great blow to his ego, and he started berating the CIA officers and US Embassy officials present in Pakistan at the time. Once, during that time, the President accidentally came face to face with the US Ambassador in a function, and in the presence of dozens of other people, admonished the Ambassador.
The General addressing him directly told him, "You people think that we cannot live without your help. Remember that Pakistan is a strong and powerful country, and if we can make Russia run away from Afghanistan, then we can also cope with USA." The US Ambassador kept silent. General Ziaul Haq caught the ambassador by the chin, and pushing his face up, said, "Tell your government that you have no option except our friendship."
The Ambassador shook his head left and right. The Foreign Ministry official who narrated the story, was personally present at that function, and was an eye-witness to this incident.
This officer went to see General Ziaul Haq the next day, and pleaded with him very humbly, "Sir, ten or eleven years ago I was working with Mr Bhutto. Sir, I saw and heard the dialogue between Henry Kissinger and Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto myself personally. Mr Bhutto looked very confident after this conversation, but Kissinger looked grim. Mr Bhutto had later started challenging the USA even in his public utterances.
However, Sir, a time came when you dethroned Bhutto and delivered him to the Judiciary. The courts sentenced him to gallows, and thus Mr Bhutto really became an example of retribution for the world!" General Ziaul Haq looked at him furiously. The official was flustered, but continued, "Sir, when you were berating the US Ambassador publicly, to me he looked very much like Henry Kissinger at the time.
Sir, based on my experience, I know that a time comes during friendship with America, when it becomes difficult for US friends to maintain that friendship, and the amity pinches like a thorn in the shoe". The general kept quite. The official persisted "Sir, during our return in the car I had tried to advise Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto also, but he stopped the car and had asked me to get out. Mr Bhutto believed that he knew the Americans better than the Americans knew themselves.
Sir, I know that you also will not be pleased with what I have to say, and perhaps this time also I may meet the same treatment, but Sir, in this delicate hour, I consider it my duty to advise you. Please don't get entangled with the Americans at this time.
They are a generation of 'disposable' culture. In their view, faithfulness and constancy are meaningless words." General Ziaul Haq lost his patience. He stood up and extended his hand (in dismissal). That official also rose and immediately left the General's office, and for a long time thereafter, did not re-enter that room.
I met that officer countless times, and whenever the talk turned to Mr Bhutto and General Ziaul Haq, he would say, "Both of my bosses did not accept my advise; therefore both of them met a tragic end." I asked him what was the reason for that. He had this stock reply: "This is American nature. In reality, they cannot maintain companionship with any one for a long time. Only if you have a love/hate relationship with the US, you can keep their company for a long period.
Like Europeans, Australians and Latin Americans, you should listen to them occasionally, and defy them some other time, then you will have good time. We can also give here an example of Japan and China. Both these countries are friends and foes at the same time. They trade with the USA, but also confront them, so Americans have no issue with them.
On the contrary, we are always obedient to the US and go out of our way in our love for USA, to the extent of altering our own constitution and laws even. After that, we start getting demands from USA to "do more", and then a time comes when it becomes impossible for Pakistan's authorities to accept American demands.
When a Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or a General Ziaul Haq explains to the Americans his legal or constitutional constraints, they do not believe him. Americans think that every thing is 'possible' in Pakistan, and that their "friend" is now deceiving them.
Therefore, the Americans change their attitude, after which the Pakistani ruler reminds them of all the services rendered by Pakistan to the USA. He recalls, with big gusto, all his acts of good faith performed in the service of the USA but the Americans shrug their shoulders and reply, "In return we had given you the opportunity to govern Pakistan."
Answering them the Pakistani ruler starts to threaten the US government, and then, whether it is Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or General Ziaul Haq, Both of them meet a dreadful, exemplary end." The official then became silent.
For the last two days, I am sensing changes in President Musharraf and US relations. President Pervez Musharraf granted an interview on January 11 to the Singapore daily "Straits Times', and in that interview challenged America, "If US forces intruded into our tribal territory, we will deem it as an invasion of Pakistan, which will be an affront to our sovereignty, and I challenge USA to dare come to our hills.
They will rue the day." The President also gave an interview to the French daily, 'Figaro', and in that interview also he announced "if Americans do not help us in the war against terror, then they should search for some other ally for themselves".
I don't know why, ever since I read reports of both these interviews of the President, I keep remembering that old diplomat, and I think again and again, that God forbid, if the time has not come once again in Pak-American relations who Condi comes to Pakistan and sitting in our Chamber of authority announces, "you have no other option".
My spirit shivers when I think of this.
Translated by Rais Ahmad Khan from Urdu into English.