Discord Leaks: Sensitive Pakistani Memos Surface In US Intelligence Documents

Discord Leaks: Sensitive Pakistani Memos Surface In US Intelligence Documents
In a stunning relevation in the Washington Post, an internal Pakistani government memorandum authored by minister of state for foreign affairs Hina Rabbani Khar has surfaced in the 'Discord Leaks', a recent unauthorised disclosure of sensitive US intelligence documents by Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old airman in the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

The 'Discord Leaks' are being dubbed the largest exposé of classified Pentagon documents since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed America's domestic and global surveillance capabilities nearly a decade ago in 2013.

According to Washington Post journalist Missy Ryan, the sensitive documents leaked by Teixiera provided "a rare glimpse into the private calculations by key emerging powers, including India, Brazil, Pakistan and Egypt, as they attempt to straddle allegiances in an era when America is no longer the world’s unchallenged superpower".

The leaked intelligence findings, which Ryan is the first to disclose, also offered "new insights on the obstacles Biden faces in securing global support for his efforts to reject the spread of authoritarianism, contain Russia’s belligerence beyond its borders and counter China’s growing global reach — as influential regional powers try to remain on the sidelines".

Pakistani diplomatic secrets leaked

According to one of the leaked documents seen by Ryan, minister of state for foreign affairs Hina Rabbani Khar argued in March 2023 that Pakistan can “no longer try to maintain a middle ground between China and the United States.”

In an internal memo titled “Pakistan’s Difficult Choices,” Khar warned that Islamabad should "avoid giving the appearance of appeasing the West", and said the instinct to preserve Pakistan’s partnership with the United States would ultimately sacrifice the "full benefits" of what she deemed was the country’s "real strategic partnership" with China.

The undated intelligence document did not detail how the United States gained access to Khar’s memo, according to Ryan's report.

Another document seen by Ryan, dated February 17, described Pakistani prime minister Shehbaz Sharif’s "deliberations with a subordinate" about an upcoming UN vote on the Ukraine conflict, and what the government anticipated would be renewed Western pressure to back a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion.

The aide advised Sharif that support for the measure would "signal a shift" in Pakistan’s position following its earlier abstention on a similar resolution, the intelligence document says. Pakistan had the ability to negotiate trade and energy deals with Russia, and backing the Western-backed resolution could "jeopardize" those ties, the aide noted.

When the UN General Assembly voted on February 23, Pakistan was among 32 countries that abstained. Pakistani officials named in the leaked documents have so far declined to respond to the Washington Post's requests for comment.

The Washington Post story comes after the US confirmed it had 'no objection' to Pakistan importing oil from Russia. “Each country is going to make its own sovereign decisions as it relates to its energy supply,” US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a weekly briefing.

Intelligence failures galore

Meanwhile, news of sensitive Pakistani government documents and discussions being accessed by US intelligence services, which have now been leaked and become a matter of public knowledge, are again causing widespread consternation among the Pakistani public and policymaking circles.


Previously, Pakistan featured prominently in a massive leak of US intelligence data and diplomatic correspondence by Wikileaks in November 2010. The disclosure of behind-the-scenes discussions Pakistani leaders had with American interlocutors and powerbrokers severely dented their legitimacy in local politics.

Despite successive Pakistani governments being 'aligned' with US strategy since the 1950s, the Pakistani masses are known to be virulently anti-American, having been indoctrinated to view the superpower's might and culture as a 'threat to Islam'.

Pakistan is also reeling from a regular dose of 'audio leaks', or conversations between individuals that are secretly recorder and then leaked, in order to be used by the public imagination to extrapolate how influential people are attempting to manipulate political outcomes. This phenomenon, however, started with leaks of sensitive conversations held in the prime minister's office, presumed to be one of the most secure government buildings in the country.

Audio conversations from the era of former prime minister Imran Khan, and incumbent prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, came to the fore last year, resulting in widespread embarrassment. An inquiry into the breach found one of the military aides to the prime minister as being responsible for at least recording, if not also leaking, the classified discussions at the highest echelons of the Pakistani government.