Ambassador said Saudis see Zardari as pro-Shia: cables


ISLAMABAD: One of the diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks revealed that Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Umar Khan Alisherzai thinks that the relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were strained after President Asif Zardari’s elections.
The Saudi perception was that Zardari was pro-Iranian and pro-Shia, which made Saudi Arabia apprehensive about working with him. “When asked about the Saudi-Pak relationship, Alisherzai admitted that it had been strained since Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s election.
Alisherzai blamed the problems on the Saudi perception that Zardari was pro-Iranian and pro-Shia, which made them apprehensive about working with him. We have been punished by Saudi Arabia because our president talks to the Iranians,” WikiLeaks cable quoted a communique sent by Ambassador James B Smith on 26 October, 2009.
He claimed that his access to Saudi leadership was good, but that he would have to continue to work hard to rebuild Pakistan’s relationship with the Saudi government. Alisherzai blamed India for helping to train and fund extremist groups fighting against the government of Pakistan.
He said India also helped support the Taliban in Pakistan, saying, “They (India) will never let a chance to harm Pakistan go.” Alisherzai summed up his feelings about India by saying, “We are not expecting anything good from them.”
“Alisherzai grew up in FATA bordering the Afghanistan provinces of Khowst and Paktya. His father served in the British military and insisted that his son attend school.
Alisherzai says that at the age of five he walked eight kilometers to school everyday. He has six children, all living in the US and all graduates of George Mason University,” added the communique.