Cablegate: Anp Coalition Partner Asfandyar Wali Khan Comments
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 001615
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/19/2018
TAGS: PGOV PK PREL PTER PHUM PINR
SUBJECT: ANP COALITION PARTNER ASFANDYAR WALI KHAN COMMENTS
ON S. WAZIRISTAN DEAL
REF: A. ISLAMABAD 1586
B. ISLAMABAD 1609
C. ISLAMABAD 1614
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S) Summary: On April 18, Peshawar Principal Officer Lynne Tracy followed up with Awami National Party (ANP) leader Asfandyar Wali Khan about the GOP's plans to sign a peace agreement with tribal elders in South Waziristan. While Khan thought the document ""was not bad"" and consistent with his party's other efforts to attempt dialogue, he made clear that the agreement was drafted by Pakistan's military, not its ruling political parties, at least not the ANP. Responding and accepting the USG's deep skepticism with providing room to the militants, Khan insisted that this deal was different that that in 2006 in North Waziristan. This time, there would be true penalties and, moreover, the deal would be struck with tribal elders not militants. He said there was value in weaning away these tribals.
2. (S) Commenting on Chief of Army Staff Kayani, he thought the General had so far played a ""positive role."" Khan suggested that the USG push for the Home Secretary of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) to take back authority over the Federally Administered Tribal Areas' (FATA) security/policing and for the extension of the Political Parties Act to the FATA. He said the ANP had a comprehensive plan to bring security and infrastructure to FATA and the adjoining areas of NWFP. He also suggested international donors adopt specific geographic areas for development.
Lastly, he recommended that tribal leaders from border areas on the Afghanistan side of the Durand Line be allowed to return home to lead their own tribes. Khan will leave April 24 for official meetings in Washington. End summary.
New South Waziristan Agreement
3. (S) Peshawar Principal Officer (PO) Lynne Tracy met April 18 in Islamabad with GOP coalition partner Awami National Party (ANP) leader Asfandyar Wali Khan. Mission requested this meeting to ascertain to what extent Khan concurred, or even sponsored, the plan to open negotiations between the GOP and South Waziristan tribal leaders. The outlines for a negotiated peace agreement were briefed to the Ambassador late April 16 by newly-appointed National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Ambassador Durrani (reftel A). Ambassador subsequently discussed the issue with President Musharraf, Prime Minister Gillani and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Zardari (reftels B and C).
4. (S) Khan informed the PO that a draft agreement was presented by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani at a security briefing about two weeks ago to Zardari and other coalition partner leaders, including himself. Khan confirmed that the document was not written by the political parties, at least not by the ANP. Khan revealed that Durrani did consult him before the announced deal this week. On such matters, Khan claimed that Zardari deferred completely to the ANP; ""I rule the rest of Pakistan,"" Zardari supposedly told Kayani at their security briefing.
5. (S) Khan argued that this agreement was different from the one in 2006 with North Waziristan, with which he vehemently disagreed; this time, he insisted, the deal would be with tribal elders and not the militants. Additionally, there would be penalties for individuals and even tribes that broke the peace and no land (whether within or outside of Pakistan)
of a signatory tribe could be used to harbor foreign fighters. ""We will be the first to know if the agreement is violated,"" Khan claimed. He also claimed a number of South Waziristani tribal leaders, including Ahmedzai Wazirs based in the western part of the agency, were prepared to sign the peace agreement. He maintained that the agreement was only with tribal elders.
6. (S) The PO expressed the USG's deep skepticism that this latest agreement would not be misused by the militants to re-group and plan for action against the U.S. Khan said he understood the skepticism, but ""it is the best we can expect
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under the circumstances."" Khan was quick to reiterate that the ANP did not author this agreement, implying that the military had drafted it. ANP, he said, was focused on ""discussions"" with ""groups"" (NFI) in Buner and Swat, districts within the ANP-led Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), but was not engaged with groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
7. (S) ""We want dialogue,"" so long as the militants first give up their guns and ""state action"" always remains an option, Khan said. Asked what the ANP would do if the Pakistan Army refuses to conduct operations against militants if the political parties determined this new agreement had failed, Khan threatened to pull his party from the governing coalition.
8. (S) PO questioned how weakened South Waziristani tribal leaders would take on militant leader Baitullah Mehsud.
Mehsud was in South Waziristan only every three to four months, Khan said. He maintained that Mehsud had taken refuge in North Waziristan with the Haqqanis and was spending most of his time in the Haqqanis' heavily fortified madrassa (location NFI) which the government had been unable to take on.
9. (S) The GOP (and West) needed to enlist local tribal leaders to turn the tide against extremism, Khan commented.
The ANP leader advocated finding ""more Maulana Nazir's."" (Comment: Nazir is the South Waziristani militant who was part of the Pakistani military's strategy of using ""indigenous"" forces in Spring 2007 to oust Uzbek fighters from parts of the agency -- a campaign that produced mixed results at best.) The ANP only desired Pashtuns to return to a more peaceful time when they were aligned with the GOP and the West. However, if the tribals were targeted by overt direct foreign intervention, he warned that not even organized, popular parties, such as the ANP, would be able to control the reaction. Instead, this new agreement, Khan thought, would at least wean away some of the tribal elders and isolate the ""irreconcilables.""
The Kayani Connection
10. (S) Responding to the PO's questions as to the exact role of the military in drafting this deal, Khan commented that Kayani's ""body language was odd"" the day the draft was presented and that Kayani appeared ""resigned to anything we wanted."" Khan quickly added that if this new attempt at dialogue was to work, all players -- the parties, the Pakistan Army, the tribals, and the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan -- would have to support the strategy.
11. (S) Khan said that Kayani had so far played a ""positive role"" when he took over ISI, closing six militant training camps identified by his party and removing ISI officers who had remained in the FATA too long. (Note: Embassy does not have information on any such training camps being ""closed."") The ANP also got its candidate appointed as Frontier Corps Commandant, Khan noted. The Prime Minister would soon recall Constabulary Forces back from the Baloch belt, he added, as part of ANP's strategy of strengthening local security forces. While the Army needed to maintain its presence in the FATA and to apply all the pressures at its disposal, the institution was admittedly in a weak position, Khan said.
The Way Forward
12. (S) Khan said that, if the USG could advocate for any policy initiatives with the GOP, he recommended: (1) FATA security/policing be taken away from the FATA Secretariat and returned to the NWFP Home Secretary; and, (2) the Political Parties Act be extended to the FATA. On the former, he claimed bureaucratic logjams caused field delays on law and order decisions which were taken all the way up to the NWFP governor; on the latter, who better than ANP workers, an ally in the War on Terror, to go into the FATA, but current laws forbade political parties there. A simple executive order would extend the law's reach, Khan said.
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13. (S) Khan provided the broad outlines of an ANP's comprehensive plan for donors that would focus on strengthening local security forces/police, roads and dams -- all areas where improved conditions in the FATA were linked to improvement in the NWFP. Khan warned that the plan would be costly, but added, ""in times of crisis, you have to be ambitious.""
14. (S) Khan wanted to avoid ad hoc projects. Recognizing that the European Union was more hesitant to work in the FATA, because of security concerns, Khan recommended that the international community divide up the region, adopting specific geographic areas. Developing those districts of NWFP that adjoined the FATA would help with FATA development as well.
Trouble Further North
15. (S) Khan expressed concern about Afghanistan's northern border province of Kunar, noting the ""fierce resistance"" by militants there in recent months. He feared a ""spillover to this side."" He also said that a few governors of border areas should be removed; instead, leaders like Haji Din Muhammad, from Jalalabad, should be brought back to run their own tribal areas. Such leaders would be the only authorities accepted by the tribal societies.
16. (U) Khan will leave April 24 for official meetings in Washington.
17. (S) Comment: While the latest agreement in South Waziristan follows the political solution outlined by ANP, Khan seemed somewhat hesitant initially in expressing his endorsement to us, going so far as to turn on a television to mask our conversation, perhaps reflecting ANP reservations over a deal that appears to have been largely brokered by the military rather than political forces. He was left in no doubt of our concerns over the possible impact of this latest effort to isolate and bring militant activity under control.