Cablegate: Musharraf Tells Deputy Secretary Pakistan Is
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1880
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 7544
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Friday, 21 September 2007, 10:08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 004085
EO 12958 DECL: 09/20/2017
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PTER, PK
SUBJECT: MUSHARRAF TELLS DEPUTY SECRETARY PAKISTAN IS
COMMITTED TO FIGHT AL QAEDA, TALIBAN
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (C) Summary. During a September 13 meeting with the Deputy Secretary, President Musharraf reiterated his intention, absent intervention by the Chief Justice, to be re-elected before October 15 by the current National and Provincial Assemblies. He explained the nature and required solutions to what he described as the very different threats posed by al Qaeda, the Taliban and extremism. He expressed frustration that the media and some in Washington did not adequately understand the complex realities of these threats and were questioning Pakistan’s commitment to combat them. Musharraf supported speedy follow-up to the Peace Jirga by choosing the right people to participate in the sub-jirgas. Musharraf also urged the U.S. not to undermine the agreement to sell Pakistan F-16 aircraft. End Summary.
2. (C) The Deputy Secretary, accompanied by Ambassador, SCA Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher, and S/CT Coordinator Dell Dailey met President Musharraf on September 13. Musharraf congratulated Negroponte on leading a successful second session of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue (septel). Musharraf outlined his priorities as: (1) on the political front, to smooth the run up to his re-election as president and then complete parliamentary elections; and (2) after the elections, to focus on political reconciliation, good governance, sustaining economic growth and fighting terrorism.
3. (C) Musharraf said that he expected XXXXXXXXXXXX in attempting to disqualify Musharraf as a candidate. He said that he could be re-elected in uniform and before the current assemblies “legally and constitutionally.” The only question is whether he will take off his uniform before or after he takes office again. But it would depend on XXXXXXXXXXXX; Musharraf was hoping that he could engage with him in a positive way in terms of the pending cases. Musharraf said the process of the presidential election would require 18 days; to finish by the October 15 deadline, the process must begin at the latest on September 27. Musharraf reiterated that he has the majority of votes required in the current National and Provincial Assemblies, but it cast a “moral” doubt on the election if the opposition resigned en masse.
4. (C) On the deportation of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Deputy Secretary noted that the administration understood what had happened, but not everyone in the U.S. appreciated the nuances of Pakistani politics. It was important for Musharraf to be as inclusive as possible and ensure elections were free and fair.
5. (C) Musharraf said that after the elections, it would be important to include Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) leader Fazlur Rehman in the governing coalition. Musharraf described him as moderate and pliable. It would be important, especially if the agreement with Bhutto succeeds, to avoid the optics of religious vs. non-religious political groupings, and Rehman can be helpful in splitting the religious parties.
6. (C) Negroponte noted the successful trilateral meeting he hosted on September 11 for Pakistan and Afghan Presidential Advisors Tariq Aziz and Rassoul. He said he was encouraged by what he saw as the shifting attitude and lower rhetoric of President Karzai towards Pakistan. He urged that both sides name and organize meetings of the sub-jirga groups that had been agreed at the Peace Jirga.
7. (C) Musharraf said he agreed and will go ahead with selecting Pakistan’s group of 25 for the sub-jirga; these should be the “right” people with good influence. But he suggested it would be even better to have a jirga with five to six participants on both sides to lead their fellow tribesmen; Pakistan had raised this idea with Kabul. The most important outcome of the Peace Jirga, according to
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Musharraf, was the Afghan recognition that they needed to talk to the “opposition,” and this would be more successful with a smaller sub-jirga group.
8. (C) Musharraf asked the U.S. to intervene on one issue of real concern--the “deliberate” attempt of Kabul and New Delhi to destabilize Balochistan. He insisted that Pakistan had ample proof that India and Afghanistan were involved in efforts to provide weapons, training and funding for Baloch extremists through Brahamdagh Bugti and Baloch Marri, two Baloch nationalists, who were living in Kabul. “We have letters instructing who to give what weapons to whom.” Musharraf said he had raised this with Karzai, who replied “give me time and I will address it.” Musharraf said he was still waiting. Assistant Secretary Boucher noted that he had recently raised the issue with Rassoul. Musharraf added “If India wants to continue, let’s see what our options will be.” Negroponte asked if, after the elections, there was a possibility to move forward on negotiations with India. Musharraf said yes, especially on Kashmir, where the population was getting restless.
FATA: Al Qaeda, Taliban, Extremism Are Different Problems
9. (C) Negroponte noted that he had just received Embassy Islamabad’s briefing on our plans to support the GOP integrated security and development plan for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Musharraf said the GOP strategy was good, but its application would take time and patience. Noting statements by the media and some administration officials, Musharraf said that Pakistan did not need to be told by the U.S. to take more action against terrorism because “we know it is in our own interests.” He said he gives this message every day, everywhere to thousands in Pakistan, and they are starting to listen.
10. (C) Musharraf outlined the differing threats of al Qaeda, the Taliban and extremism. These, he asserted, were three distinct issues that too often are confused by the media or “lower-level” U.S. officials who do not understand the complexities of the challenge Pakistan is facing. Al Qaeda is in the mountains, especially in North and South Waziristan and Bajaur, and the GOP is “trying to deal with the locals to get them out.” The GOP is telling the locals to avoid the trouble that comes with associating with foreigners, and there has been some success especially in expelling the Uzbeks. Now, Musharraf wants the tribes to expel the Arabs. The strategy is to do selected attacks and follow up with political efforts; here, too, Fazlur Rehman can help. But the mountains absorb lots of troops, so in the short-term, Musharraf has put a brigade in North Waziristan and two more in the settled areas on the FATA border. At some later point, the GOP will move troops into South Waziristan; the goal there was to break Baitullah Mehsud and his organization.
11. (C) Turning to the Taliban, Musharraf said this was a different issue. Pakistan could fight al Qaeda with troops, but the Taliban were being supported by locals opposed to the foreign presence in Afghanistan. Military action against these locals, explained Musharraf, would require “fighting against our own people,” and this was very sensitive. So, the GOP was reinforcing the borders and telling the locals they had no right to cross the border. This problem required a combined military, political and administrative solution. On the politics, again, Fazlur Rehman could help. Musharraf speculated, however, that if Washington heard he was meeting with Rehman, he would be accused of aiding and abetting religious extremists. On the administrative/development side, Musharraf said he was reinvigorating the political agent system, building boarding schools that could remove students from extremist influence, and creating jobs in the marble and olive oil industries. Foreign Secretary Khan reiterated Pakistan’s concern about including Article 347 and 348 on textiles (cotton trousers) in pending Reconstruction Opportunity Zone (ROZ) legislation. Musharraf noted that Pakistan was also expanding and better equipping the Frontier Corps, Levies and Khassadar forces.
12. (C) Musharraf described extremism in Pakistani society as yet another facet of the challenge, and this required
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changing mindsets. He had attacked the problem in several ways. The GOP had increased control over mosques, banning loudspeakers, collection plates, posters and distribution of pro-jihad literature. The police now understood the importance of this activity; there had been a 90 percent success in shutting down these activities. Musharraf said he had banned 23 organizations (some before 9/11), but they keep changing their names so this was a constant challenge. He has had some success on madrassa reform by introducing new curricula and registering 75 percent of madrassas with the government. The GOP has introduced new secular subjects; 70 percent of the registered madrassas have accepted the new program; and some have begun teaching these new secular subjects.
13. (C) Musharraf thanked the U.S. for approving the five-year $750 million plan for FATA projects but said that the projects and ROZs had not yet materialized. Negroponte noted that we were making progress on the ROZ legislation and had actually proposed more than $750 million over five years in assistance. The funding process moves slowly, but the Pakistanis would be seeing results soon. Musharraf replied that the perceptions were different in Pakistan, and said that U.S. statements and the 9/11 Commission legislation showed that the U.S. had doubts about Pakistan’s intentions. Why, Musharraf wondered again, did the media and the U.S. believe he was playing a “double game” and not doing enough?
F-16s: Don’t Violate Our Deal
14. (C) In closing, Musharraf said that the Pakistan Air Force was upset over what they felt was the U.S. undermining “by design” the agreement to sell Pakistan F-16s. Musharraf said, “don’t violate this deal as it would unnecessarily upset bilateral relations.”
15. (U) The Deputy Secretary’s staff has cleared this message.