November 09, 2014





The "News", the Pakistani daily, has reported on August 3,2009, that the Barack Obama Administration has decided to appoint Robin Raphel, who was a Counselor for Political Affairs in the US Embassy in New Delhi from 1991 to 1993 and subsequently became the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs in the Bill Clinton Administration, as a member of the team of Richard Holbrooke, the Special Representative to the Af-Pak region.

2.According to the paper, she will be based in Pakistan and will co-ordinate the implementation of the plan for non-military assistance to Pakistan. She is expected to arrive in Pakistan on August 14,2009. Her bio-data as taken from the Wikipedia is annexed.

3. During her posting in the US Embassy in New Delhi, she was actively interacting with the various anti-India groups in Jammu & Kashmir and it was reportedly on her advice that the Hurriyat, as an umbrella organization of these groups, became very active.

4.After Bill Clinton assumed office as the President in January,1993, she joined the State Department as the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of South Asian Affairs under Warren Christopher, who was the Secretary of State. It used to be said that she knew the Clintons from her younger days and this gave her easy access to the President despite her junior position in the State Department. She exploited this to prevent Pakistan being declared as a State sponsor of terrorism after the Mumbai blasts of March,1993.

5. It was during her tenure as the Assistant Secretary of State that the Clinton Administration declared Jammu & Kashmir as a "disputed territory" and started calling for the resolution of the dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. This refrain has once again been taken up by the Obama Administration.

6. Towards the end of 1993 , during a non-attributable discussion with some Indian journalists in Washington DC she reportedly defended this formulation and contended that the US considered the Kashmiri territory transferred by Pakistan to China in 1963 when Ayub Khan was the President also as disputed territory, whose future was yet to be decided.

7. The "Times of India" prominently carried this story on the front page without identifying the official of the State Department who had talked to the Indian journalists on the Kashmir issue. Enquiries made by the Government of India identified the official as Robin Raphel.

8. It was during her stewardship of the South Asian Affairs portfolio in the State Department that the Taliban under Mulla Mohammad Omar came into existence in 1994 with the joint support of the Pakistan and US Governments. The Taliban was prepared to support the construction of an oil and gas pipeline by UNOCAL, an American oil company, from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan and she had met Mulla Mohammad Omar in this connection. This period also saw Osama bin Laden shift from Khartoum to Jalalabad in 1996 without any objection from the US. The Taliban later shifted him to Kandahar.

9. Even after she left the State Department and joined the faculty of the National Defence University, she reportedly maintained active contacts with anti-India elements in J&K.

10. The "News" has correctly described her as "one known to be Pakistan's friend".

11.She is.

12. The text of the "News" report is also annexed. (3-8-2009)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )



Robin L. Raphel is a career diplomat who served as Ambassador to Tunisia and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs during the Clinton administration. In this capacity she managed U.S. relations with the newly formed Taliban government in Afghanistan. She also served as a member of the Iraq Reconstruction Team during the Bush administration.

She began her career as a lecturer in history at Damavand College in Tehran, Iran. She first worked for the United States Government as an economic analyst for the CIA from 1973 to 1975. She then moved to Islamabad, Pakistan where she worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development as an economic/financial analyst. She then joined the State Department.

Upon her return to Washington, DC in 1978, Ambassador Raphel worked in the Office of Investment Affairs in the Economic and Business Bureau; on the Israel Desk; Staff Aide for the Assistant Secretary for the Near East and South Asian Affairs Bureau; and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. In 1984 she was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in London where she covered Middle East, South Asia and East Asia, and Africa.

She served as Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria (1988-1991), and at the U.S.Embassy in New Delhi (1991-1993). In August 1993, she was named the first Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. She retired
from the State Department in 2005 after 30 years of service.

Ambassador Raphel received a B.A. in history and economics from the University of Washington. She pursued graduate studies in history at Cambridge University and earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Maryland. Her foreign languages are French and Urdu. She was at one time married to the late ambassador Arnold Lewis Raphel, but they divorced prior to his death in 1988.

She is currently the Senior Vice President at Cassidy & Associates, a firm that works on consultancy in international relations. She was responsible for the lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department and the firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Govt of Pakistan. This contract was withdrawn by the firm due to the martial law in Pakistan. ( My comment: Not martial law, but the state of emergency)



Robin Raphel gets key job in Pakistan

Monday, August 03, 2009
By Qudssia Akhlaque

ISLAMABAD: The Obama administration in an astute move has decided to appoint former US assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, Robin Raphel, an old South Asia hand and one known to be Pakistan's friend, as coordinator for non-military assistance to Pakistan, it was learnt.

Appointed as a key member of Obama's Pakistan team, Ambassador Raphel's mandate will be to coordinate the effort to determine, in consultation with the Pakistani authorities, how best to allocate the increased US funding for non-military assistance, informed diplomatic sources in Washington and Islamabad told The News.

Raphel will be a new member of the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke's expanding team and she will be based in Pakistan.

Holbrooke was appointed Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan by the Obama administration in January to coordinate US government's efforts in the region. Raphel will be reporting to Holbrooke in Washington, and at Islamabad to the US ambassador. A formal announcement about her appointment is expected shortly.

In her new position she is expected to cohesively carry together the different strands of non-military US engagement with Pakistan — economic, development, political and civilian security. Ambassador Raphel will be "also overseeing the ramp up of US civilian assistance effort in anticipation of the final passage of the Kerry-Lugar Bill 2009," an insider explained.

The passage of the Kerry-Lugar bill means approval of tripling of civilian US aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion per annum for each of the next five years in a key part of a strategy to combat extremism with economic and social development. The $1.5 billion in annual funding includes money for schools, judicial system, parliament and law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan.

As Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs during the Clinton administration in the 90s, Raphel had a similar role within the region. She particularly played an important part in managing US relations with the newly formed Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Robin Raphel is currently the senior vice-president of a Washington-based lobbying consulting firm Cassidy & Associates that provides counselling to multinational corporations, foreign countries and other organisations to advocate their US-based interests in Washington, and US corporations to meet business challenges abroad.

Raphel will be coming here on August 14 for initially a couple of weeks for consultations with the top political leadership after which she will go back to Washington, sources told The News. She will then return around mid September and be stationed here for one whole year.

This is not the first time that Raphel will be based in Pakistan. In mid 70s she was here in Islamabad working as an Economic and financial analyst for the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Ambassador Robin Raphel is generally considered to be very sympathetic towards Pakistan and enjoys goodwill in the country's civilian as well as military circles. Even after her retirement from the State Department in 2005 after 30 years of service, Ambassador Raphel has been in touch with Pakistan through participation in seminars and conferences.

More recently she was responsible for lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department and her firm had a $1.2 million contract with the government of Pakistan. However, this contract was abruptly terminated by the firm following the declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan by President Gen (retd.) Pervez Musharraf on Nov 3, 2007.

India ‘link’ to Raphel fall


India 'link' to Raphel fall
Robin Raphel 

New Delhi, Nov. 8: A tip from Indian soil which shed new light on how US diplomat Robin Raphel empowered the Taliban may have hastened her downfall in Washington.

Accounts from Raisina Hill, the seat of government in New Delhi and from Chanakyapuri, the capital's diplomatic enclave, however, indicated that India's official apparatus was not involved in the tip. The US embassy was behind relaying the information, albeit in the course of routine transmission of material.

The long-running counter-intelligence probe of Raphel, who began her American civil service career with the CIA, appears to have taken a critical turn when Hamid Mir, executive editor of Pakistan's Geo TV, made credible revelations about her nearly two-decade-old support for the Taliban to senior editorial staff of The Indian Express in the third week of October.

Mir, along with Shafqat Mahmood, a leader of Imran Khan's Tehrik-e-Insaf, said in the course of an exchange on India-Pakistan relations with the editors in New Delhi that Raphel had weighed heavily on then Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1995 to throw Islamabad's weight behind the Taliban. At that time, the world viewed the Taliban as a curiosity and it was mistaken by many countries as a nascent student movement for reforming Afghanistan and getting rid of its endemic corruption and warlordism.

Raphel was then the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, a new entity created with much fanfare in the state department. A middle-ranking diplomat at the US embassy in Chankayapuri, Raphel was catapulted to head the new bureau over several others her senior because she was an "FoB," Friend of Bill.

Like Strobe Talbott, another FoB who became deputy secretary of state as a political appointee, Bill Clinton brought in a number of his old friends from his Oxford and London years into his administration. Of all of them, Raphel is the one who did maximum damage to America, albeit in retrospect.

She had no excuse for confusing the Taliban for an innocent student movement. She was already an expert on Pakistan and had her resourceful CIA experience behind her. Raphel's husband (they were divorced by then) gave up his life travelling with General Zia-ul-Haq on their fatal flight in Bahawalpur in 1988.

Here is what Mir said on the record in the third week of October: "The Taliban movement emerged in Afghanistan in 1994. In 1995, I was travelling with then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to the US. Bhutto met ambassador Robin Raphel in New York. We came to know that Raphel had asked Bhutto to announce her support to the Taliban. It was very disturbing. I wrote in my column from New York that here is the first elected woman Prime Minister in the whole Muslim world, the Taliban are imposing a ban on girls' education (in Afghanistan) and she had been asked by Robin Raphel, another woman, to announce her support for the Taliban."

Benazir did not take kindly to Mir and other journalists getting wind of what had transpired at the meeting with Raphel and she was even less kindly to Mir for writing a column revealing Raphel's advice.

Here is Mir again in his own words: "When we were coming (back home) from New York, the Prime Minister met me on the plane and said, 'You are criticising me'. I replied, 'Yes, this is democracy, I don't like the Taliban and you are supporting the Taliban at the behest of Raphel'. So she instructed her interior minister to brief me why the Taliban are good for Pakistan."

A few days passed. "The interior minister organised a briefing for me and Nusrat Javed, a colleague, and explained that we (Pakistan) were using the Taliban as the 'pipeline police'. We wanted a gas pipeline from Uzbekistan to Pakistan and there was nobody who could protect it because the government in Kabul, the Northern Alliance, was supported by the Indians and the Iranians and they might destroy the gas pipeline."

Now Mir demanded his price for changing course. "I said OK, I would like to meet Mullah Omar (the Taliban chief). The interior minister said 'OK'. I met Mullah Omar in Kandahar…. I was astonished he was not aware Raphel was American."

With Mir's talk of the pipeline stake, there may be wheels within wheels in the raid on Raphel by the FBI. Not that the investigating agencies did not know. But Mir's account is confirmation of what the FBI may have long suspected.

Three days after Mir spoke to the editors in New Delhi, Raphel lost her security clearance. This week's developments, including the sealing of her state department office and a search of her residence, are a follow-up to the revocation of her security clearance.

US embassies across the world routinely send to the state department material such as Mir's statements that are in the public domain. Sometimes, as in Raphel's case, they have rare and unexpected consequences.

It was well-known in South Block in the 1990s, the period under review, that the Americans were willing to overlook ideological anathema, including Islamic extremism, for the sake of energy and mineral resources in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Those who approached India as lobbyists on behalf of US oil companies during those years include some big names: Condoleezza Rice, who later became US national security adviser and secretary of state; and Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan American who was later US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, and whom the US unsuccessfully tried to foist on Kabul as President in succession to Hamid Karzai.

When the Taliban took power in Kabul in December 1996, Raphel was the assistant secretary of state in charge of South Asia. At her persuasion, the US extended recognition to the Taliban, only to withdraw it 10 minutes later.

Even though Raphel left her post a year after the Taliban takeover of Kabul, the US continued her policy of mollycoddling the Taliban, nurturing a monster that would devour the US in association with al Qaida on September 11, 2001.

That policy was abandoned only in August 1998 after two US embassies in east Africa were bombed by terrorists.

During the George W. Bush and Barack Obama years, Raphel held the purse strings to US aid to Pakistan and she shuttled between Islamabad and Washington, residing alternately in both of her favourite cities.

It is not known if the latest FBI probe covers the huge amount of money she disbursed and whether it went into the hands of those who are a threat to America, like the Taliban.