THE WORLDPOST
11/30/2010 05:34 pm ET Updated May 26, 2011

WikiLeaks: Pakistan's Complicated Role As U.S. Ally

This article is being updated.

The New York Times is reporting that leaked cables concerning Pakistan reveal fear of the country's nuclear program and concern over its willingness to aggressively pursue extremist groups.

According to the reports, Pakistan's weak civilian government supports the goals of the U.S. but the country's actual power centers -- the military and the intelligence agency -- are less sympathetic. The president, Asif Ali Zardari, told Vice President Joe Biden that he was worried that the military might go so far as to "take me out."

At the same time, the country's nuclear capabilities made that unreliability especially threatening. The Guardian reports that Anne Patterson, the US ambassador to Islamabad, said in 2010 that, "Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon."

Despite the mutual mistrust between the militaries, there have been some positive steps forward in recent months. The Pakistani military has allowed some special forces to work within the country with their Pakistani counterparts. Says the Times:

Within the past year, however, Pakistan and the United States have gingerly started to publicly acknowledge the role of American field advisers. Lt. Col. Michael Shavers, an American military spokesman in Islamabad, said in a statement that "at the request of the Pakistanis," small teams of Special Operations forces "move to various locations with their Pakistani military counterparts throughout Pakistan."

But the overwhelming impression left by the reports is one of skepticism, as the U.S. presses the Pakistani government for promises while alienating it by moving closer to India, Pakistan's enemy. The Guardian reports:

The ambassador starkly informed Washington that "no amount of money" from the US would stop the Pakistani army backing Islamist militants and the Afghan Taliban insurgency.

The Express Tribune reports that Pakistan has strongly condemned the release, calling it an "irresponsible disclosure of sensitive official documents."