ISI asked Saudi Arabia not to fund Nawaz Sharif for his election campaign, a secret cable of 2008 revealed.

According to WikiLeaks, National Security Adviser Tariq Aziz told Asif Zardari that after being elected as a prime minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi could challenge his authority, as Zardari was considering Qureshi as a PPP candidate for prime minister.

Aziz told US Ambassador Anne Patterson on February 15 that Saudi Arabia has provided heavy funds to Nawz Sharif for his election campaign in order to defeat Pakistan Peoples’ Party.

In the same meeting, he also told Patterson that ISI Director Nadeem Taj had met with the Saudi Ambassador to request Saudi Arabia to stop funding Nawaz Sharif. He also told the Saudi Ambassador that by doing so, the pact between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will be violated in case Sharif returns to Pakistan.

On February 15, NSA Tariq Aziz told Ambassador that in the past four day he has met twice with Zardari, who asked him for “advice” on who should be prime minister if the PPP is asked to form a government. DG ISI Taj and Aziz urged Zardari not to pursue the premiership for himself, as it would split the party and reduce PPP’s national influence. Zardari raised the idea of becoming Prime Minister with Aziz on February 14. Aziz told Ambassador that this might have been possible in years past, but under the new constitution, which stipulates that the PM must be a member of parliament, Zardari would not qualify.

Aziz said he encouraged Zardari to support Amin Faheem for PM. Zardari complained that Faheem is a poor administrator who lacks the skills needed to run the government. Aziz admitted to Ambassador that this is true; when Faheem was Minister of Communications he spent much of his time at his home in Karachi. Aziz told Zardari that Faheem’s shortcomings could be mitigated by appointing a strong staff, but Zardari remained convinced Faheem was too weak to be PM.

According to Patterson’s comments in the secret cable, Aziz was clearly depressed and pessimistic about the possibility that Musharraf’s party could hold on to power in the next government; we see Zardari’s continuing contacts with the government as a sign that he will deal with Musharraf after the election.