Ambassador Anne Patterson’s blatent interference in Pakistani politics

October 20, 2010

Ambassador Anne Patterson has packed her bags and is leaving Pakistan. Pakistanis loved Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain and despised Ambassador Ann Paterson. She is reviled in Pakistan as a dictator who did not build bridges either with the Pakistani society or the press. People often compare Anne Patterson with Ryan Crocker and Pakistan’s favorite US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain and found Paterson lacking in personality, skills and competency. Ambassador Paterson could comprehend the Pakistani point of view, so she cold not convey it to America. It was under her watch that the drone bombings were accelerated, and she did not speak up against them. In fact there is much conjecture that she has been instrumental in exacerbating the situation in Pakistan by inviting Blackwater/Xe to take a more active part in Pakistan and to encourage the 3000 strong “CIA Army” in Pakistan.

She came from Colombia and El Salvador and brought the same violence from South America to Pakistan.

Dr. Moiz Pirzada of Dunya News interviewed her as she left Pakistan. It is pedagogical to note that the interview was candid and frank. Dr. Pirzada did not hold back any punches and asked her pointed and poignant questions in a very friendly and  polite manner.

Ambassador Anne Patterson answered many questions, and after answering them went back to put polish her statements adding the usual caveats like “its up to the Pakistan people to decide” or “that is up to Pakistan to take care of”.

Something that was very apparent was her deep involvement in Pakistani politics, Pakistani political appointments and Pakistani developments. As an analogy the Pakistani Ambassador would not have a clue about the inner sanctums of the Democratic Party in South Carolina or care about Sarah Palins’s husband’s involvement in the Alaskan separatist party. By sharp contrast, Anne Patterson went to the podium and defended Chaudhry’s and refuted President Musharraf‘s claims that th NRO was the idea of the Chaudhry’s.

Anne Patterson clearly said that her accomplishments included the restoration of democracy and the return of Benazir Bhutto.

Anne Patterson described US short term goals of bringing “stability” to the country, and defined the long term goals as “restoration of a democratic government” in Pakistan. In other words this translates to “removal of President Musharraf” and coronation of Mr. Zardari as the head of the Pakistani state. She described how she worked with the former PM Bhutto to return to Pakistan Washington wanted Musharraf to take off his uniform

She said US did not support the NRO. “Our goal was to return democratic government and get former PM Bhutto to return and then got PM Sharif return.”

She then said “the NRO was instrumental in the return of Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto”.

She said support of the NRO was not a mistake. When Mr. Pirzada persisted “Looking back at th NRO do you think it was a mistake. Ms.  Patterson hedged “The US did not support or did not work against the NRO. I don’t know if it was a mistake at the time. In the context of the negotiations at the time, it was important in removing Musharraf and getting Benazir Bhutto back. Benazir Bhutto’s return was a key element of US policy.

Most analysts know that Ms. Patterson was instrumental in asking Musharraf and then forcing him to step down. It is important to note that when she was talking about President Musharraf, her jaw tightened, her lips pursed, and her facial expression turned very stern. It displayed a visceral dislike for President Musharraf.

Moiz Pirzada was relentless in pursuing her about the change of guard in Pakistan. He brought up  the Durrani, Zardari, Haqqani meeting and asked her if it happened. The meetings supposedly brought back Mr. Zardari. In response Ms. Patterson hedged and said “they met all the time”. It is important to note that Mr. Zardari, Mr. Haqqani and Mr. Durrani were all out of government and Mr. Zardari and Mr. Haqqani were in the US. There was no opportunity or reason to run into these folks when President Musharraf was president.

Moiz Pirzada asked her who was the Principle architect of the NRO. She hedged and said one must think of the major issues of the time, “third term was on the table,  and Mushrraf’s uniform was an issue”. Those who follow politics must see the apparent contradiction in her earlier statement and the interview. She had earlier said that “Chaudry Shujaat was not involved in the NRO”.  When Moid Pirzada reminded her about her previous remarks on the NRO she said one should not focus on the NRO–she hedged on the Chaudhry Shujaat remark.

She defended the PPPP. The new government came in at the time of soaring petroleum and food prices. Mr. Pirzda asked “Were you disappointed at the performance of the government?”. Ms. Patterson did not give a direct answer. She said “Any government would have faced challenges. The PPPP faced the Swat displaced persons and then the massive floods”.

Mr. Pirzada asked her about the Jim Jones visit to Pakistan and her remarks which were repeated in Bob Woodward’s book “Obama’s Wars”. The remarks attributed to Ms. Patterson went something like this–”Mr. Benazir Bhutto” “does not know anything about governing”. In response Anne Patterson  said “Mr. Woodward’s book is a lot of exaggeration. A lot of it not according to her recollection.”  She denied the comments about Mr. Zardari.

She said “Its difficult to govern Pakistan”. She admitted to “15 hours of video conferences with President Obama”. She raffrimed that the two major issues facing US-Pakistani relationship are “Uncertainty about intentions and staying power”.

Pakistan press is negative about US, US intentions, prevarications. A lot of it presents local culture. “The US most do Public outreach and US scholarships”. She also admitted to Divergence of interests. She asked Pakistanis to ignore the Blackwater articles. She admitted to pushing back on Anti-US stories and calling the editors and journalists.

Mr. Pirzada brought up the history of Pakistan-US relations. He reminded here that India was a USSR ally. She responded that the US relationship with Bharat should not be sen as Zero Sum game. She described Bharat as a huge commercial market for the US. Relations with Pakistan and relations with India  should coincide. When Mr. Pirzada reminded her that it took 8 days for the  NATO apology–she described it as a mistake and a tragedy.

She however was adamant about Xe. “I categorically deny there is Blackwater in Pakistan.  She categorically denied that Aafia Siddiqui was in Baghram base. She asked where Dr. Siddiqui was for  3 years ago.

On the most difficult moment in Pakistan: She said that the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto was the hardest moment for it. The US tried to dissuade Musharraf from imposing emergency. “We tried to reverse and roll it back.” “Musharraf did take off his uniform. We are very anxious for politicians to take over. We participated and facilitated the discussions.” She said that the Key objective was to get rid of Musharraf.

She described as making Musharraf go as a key objective of the US. Mr. Pirzada asked her about the Safe passage given to for Mr. Musharraf. She said that the US had nothing to do with that. She then reminded Mr. Pirzada that Pakistan “Overestimated US influence.’

US had wanted  Musharraf to go on lectures  and become part of the landscape. Asked about his return Ms. Patterson said its “Up to the voters of Pakistan. Pakistanis will have to evaluate him against other politicians.”

ON her greatest disappointment: She said that the “Public response to Kerry Lugar Bill was a disappointment”. She however said Pakistan pulled that through and  FM Qureshi went to Washington and worked it out with the Congress.

Mr. Pirzada asked her “Many wonder if the Mullen, Petraeus, view prevails”. She responded that since the strategic dialogue has started  there is a “much higher degree of understanding”. She that Bush Admin. was very engaged with the war in Iraq and that the Obama Administration has transformed the Afghan effort.

Quetta Shura: She hedged that there are Taliban leader in Pakistan. She mentioned that there is some process of reconciliation. The US policy is to have a political solution. “There will eventually have to be a political solution, and eventually Pakistan will have to be brought about”.

Personal. She said that she was quite optimistic about Pakistan. She eulogized Pakistanis as a very resilient country with a world class business community. She was confident about the ability of the entrepreneurial community to rebuild. Under the radar there is is a large body of businessmen and women who are working to build the Pakistan businesses.

She was very impressed with the resilience of the people. She said that she cherished the friendships with people. She said that Pakistan is not Anti-American. She didn’t believe in the Pew survey. She said that she found the people warm and welcoming.

When Pirzada asked me what disgusted her the most, she said “Pakistanis are so hard on each other”. She talked about  “the bitter edge against politicians”. she found the politics “corrosive”. She said that Pakistan “never cut each other a break”. Pakistan politics is dirtier than US politics. She said politics in Pakistan was a lot more personal.

Interaction with General Kayani. She said that she had tremendous respect for the Chief of Army Staff. when asked if other US Army had found General Kayani very difficult to work with she said that she had great admiration for what General Kayani has achieved. She said that the Pakistan Army had sustained combat for the past 16 months. She reminded Mr. Pirzada recovered Swat and took care of 2.5 million people who were displaced. She hinted at her next assignments which would probably be in the Middle East. She is studying Arabic.

When asked about the best City of Pakistan, she said that “Lahore is an interesting city”. She said that Lahore is interesting because of the cultural sites. She said that she liked Lahore very much.

On Pakistani women. She said that in the upper reaches of government there are a lot of Businesswomen. She also said that there were a lot of women in the Arts and cultural field. She said that Pakistani women are very prominent in Pakistani public life. She said that a lot of room for improvement in education. She said that she is trying to invest Kerry Lugar money in the women’s area. She said that the women are very prominent and very aggressive in the upper reaches of political and social life.

She said that the new Ambassador will have to face the same challenges. He would have to work on the bilateral relationship. He would have to convince that the US is here for a long period. Its a process.


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