Amidst the massive debris of confidential, secret and unclassified information contained within United States diplomatic cables across the world and exposed by WikiLeaks, notable comments on India have begun to emerge, including the U.S. viewing India as a “self-appointed frontrunner” in the race for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The whistleblower website headed by Australian Julian Assange had, by Monday evening, put out over 240 out of a quarter of a million communications between State Department officials in Washington and in numerous U.S. diplomatic outposts.
In addition to the reported comment on India’s bid for the UNSC seat, the dispatches published thus far also described a conversation between Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, and visiting National Defence University President Lieutenant General Michael Dunn.
In the discussion, classified as secret by United Arab Emirates Ambassador Michele Sison, the Crown Prince, dubbed “MbZ,” was described as hinting about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s interest in the UAE obtaining Predator drones from the U.S..
These drones are “hunter-killers,” often armed with Hellfire missiles, as opposed to mere reconnaissance drones, and India has expressed concern in the past that any Pakistani access to such drones could inflame tensions on the border.
According to the cable, during the conversation the Ambassador “asked about MbZ’s visit the week before to Lahore to meet with Pakistani President Musharraf. MbZ chuckled and asked why the U.S. government “always” convinced the Pakistanis to delay news of the capture of senior al-Qaeda operatives such as Abu Faraj al Libbi.”
The cable went on to add that the Crown Prince congratulated Washington for its decision to allow U.S. firms to bid for contracts to provide F-16 combat aircraft and other defence technology to Pakistan, adding that even if “the Indians had and would continue to balk at the decision, the region needed Musharraf to stay strong.”
Further the cable quoted the Crown Prince as saying that the F-16 decision would not tip the military balance between India and Pakistan. “Even if it had, India's strength as a stable democracy would ensure that it would not ever be in as risky a situation as its neighbour,” he said.
The cable then said that “MbZ slapped his knee and said “You will never guess what Musharraf asked me...he asked me whether the UAE had received approval for the Predator!”
At this point the cable cautioned, that the U.S. government’s “inability to meet the UAE’s request for an armed Predator remains a sore point for MbZ, although he has not directly raised the issue with us.”