Zardari Spoke American At United NationsOctober 21, 2009
Mark Siegal, the American lobbyist for Pakistan appointed by President Asif Ali Zardari’s government, has become so influential that he was even assigned to write the speech the President delivered to the General Assembly last month, according to reliable sources in the presidency. And he charged the government of Pakistan $25,000 for the four-page speech, which should have been prepared by the Foreign Office in consultation with the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations. The exorbitant amount was on top of the millions of dollars of Pakistani taxpayers’ money Seigal gets for his lobbying efforts aimed at promoting the Zardari government with congressional leaders and administration officials.
Not only the speech to the annual session of the General Assembly in which high-level delegates lay out their vision for their respective countries and the world, Seigal sits on some sensitive meetings President Zardari has with American officials, the sources said. He usually has a suite in the same super-luxury hotel-Barclay Inter-continental-where President Zardari stays during his visit to New York.
These sources said Seigal got the assignment to write the speech on the recommendation of the Pakistani ambassador to the United States. The American lobbyist did receive inputs for the speech by Pakistan government officials, but he wrote the final text.
The speech contained no vision, but was couched in a language that was designed to please the United States and its western allies. It was strong on terrorism, but short on Kashmir, Pakistan’s main issue. For the first time, there was no reference to the U.N. resolutions calling for an internationally-supervised plebiscite to enable the Kashmiri to decide their future. The repression let loose by Indian occupation forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir got no mention. And the issue of Palestine, a cause so dear to the people of Pakistan, was dismissed in one sentence.
Not only Haqqani consults with Seigal but other Pakistani diplomats, fearful of his power, also keep in touch with him.
Foreign office officials, whom this correspondent contacted, admitted on the basis of anonymity, that the speech was written by Seigal. “What can we do? This government talks of defending the country’s sovereignty, what sovereignty … we’re no longer sovereign, but a U.S. colony,” an officer, who became emotional, said.
This report was published by The Nation of Lahore.