War between US State Dept, White House comes to the fore with Boucher's mail leak

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Washington, Aug 28 : After the leakage of the email from US State Department Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Affairs Richard Boucher to US ambassador in London Zalmay Khalilzad questioning him over his telephonic talks with Pakistan presidential hopeful Asif Ali Zardari, the long-running turf war between the State Department's South Asia bureaucracy and those with links to the White House and the US Vice-President's Office has come out in the open.

And, the White House has taken a dim view of the "development", reported the Daily Times. According to a political source in Washington, by reproducing the precise text of the email sent by Boucher to Khalizad, US daily the New York Times had compromised the State Department official's position, and in career terms this could be the "end of the road for him".

Boucher came to know of Khalilzad's "unauthorized links" when Zardari told him in the midst of a conversation that he would be meeting Khalilzad in Dubai in the first week of September.

According to the paper, the leak came from Boucher's office. But, whether it was authorised by him or whether it resulted from the indiscretion of a staff member remains to be investigated, it added.

It has been long believed that Pakistan was not so much the State Department's "baby" as that of the Vice-President's office. "Consequently, independent lines of contact and communication may have been established with some of the major players on the political scene in Pakistan by the White House and the Vice-President's Office," added the paper.

US' willingness to accept the exit of Musharraf was clearly the result of a "change of policy" from the White House because in July Boucher had declared that Musharraf continued to be important for US policy and that his critics should attend to other problems instead of focusing on Musharraf.

The paper further said that Khalilzad was a political appointee, and another reason for the jealousy that State Department officials like Boucher feel because of the plum UN post Khalizad has been given.

Khalizad will step down with the administration that appointed him. He is believed to be a strong contender for the Afghan presidency and is said to enjoy the support of some powerful political players in Afghanistan who have had enough of the ineffectual Hamid Karzai.

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