Arnold L. Raphel – United States Ambassador To Pakistan

He was killed in 1988 when an airplane on which he was a passenger, along with the President of Pakistan and Brigadier General Herbert N. Wassom, United States Army, exploded in midair. The plane was apparently the target of extremists in Pakistan and was either downed by a missile or a bomb that had been placed on board.

His body, and that of General Wassom, was returned to the United States for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

From a contemporary press report: Tuesday, August 23, 1988


WASHINGTON – The United States has informed the Soviet Union and India that U.S. support for Pakistan's security remains strong despite the death of President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq.

Separate messages were sent to both Moscow and New Delhi after Zia was killed in an air crash Wednesday – a crash that could have been caused by sabotage. Also killed were U.S. Ambassador Arnold L. Raphel and Brig. Gen. Herbert M. Wassom, chief of the U.S. military group in Pakistan.

A U.S. official – who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity – said, ”The point is we wanted to reassure them that our policy is unchanged and that we are going to stand by Pakistan.”

The tone of the messages and conversations here and in Moscow with Soviet diplomats was more pointed than the U.S. contacts with India, said a second U.S. official, who also asked to remain anonymous. ”With the Soviets, it was more in terms of cautioning them about Afghanistan.”

A third U.S. official said, ”So far, the behavior is quite correct in each case.”

Pakistan under Zia was the closest U.S. ally in central Asia and the conduit for U.S. and Chinese weapons to Afghan rebels in Afghanistan.

So far, U.S. officials said, there is no indication that the Soviets are slowing the pace of their troop withdrawal from Afghanistan or seizing on the death of Zia to raise tension in the area.

”Their hostility to Pakistan has not ended,” a U.S. official said. ”They haven't backed off. But there is no escalation. I think they understand very clearly our position.”

Ambassador Eulogized

At Fort Meyer, Virgina., next to Arlington National Cemetery, Ambassador Raphel was eulogized Monday as a star performer of the U.S. diplomatic corps.

Assistant Secretary of State John C. Whitehead, former Secretaries of State Edmund S. Muskie and Alexander M. Haig Jr. and several hundred State Department colleagues, foreign diplomats and friends joined Raphel's family for services.

Whitehead credited Raphel with helping to achieve the U.N.-mediated accords under which Soviet forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan.

alraphe1 alraphe2

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment