Cablegate: Gilani to Codel Snowe: Help Us Hit Targets
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FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0084
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RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 5182
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Thursday, 13 November 2008, 11:34
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 003586
EO 12958 DECL: 11/13/2018
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PTER, MOPS, EAID, PK
SUBJECT: GILANI TO CODEL SNOWE: HELP US HIT TARGETS
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b), (d).
1. (C) Summary: Codel Snowe met November 11 with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani. Gilani thanked the USG for its support in helping transition the country to a full democracy and congratulated the U.S. on its recent election. Gilani reiterated that the struggle against extremism was “Pakistan’s war,” which had claimed many more Pakistani lives than those of all NATO troops combined. He requested more intelligence sharing from the USG, arguing that the Pakistan Army would then hit the targets. U.S. drone attacks were counterproductive in winning the public’s support, Gilani argued. Terrorist acts were also hurting the country’s economy and driving away international investments. Gilani claimed good relations with neighbor Afghanistan but complained about the lack of GOA cooperation on a biometric border control system. Gilani made specific requests for gunship and heavy-lift helicopters, night-vision equipment, bullet-proof vehicles, and real-time satellite information. End summary.
A Closer Relationship
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2. (C) The Ambassador, U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), as well as Congressional Staff Eric Pelofsky and John Maguire met November 11 with PM Yousuf Gilani, Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Interior Advisor Rehman Malik and National Security Advisor Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani.
3. (C) PM Gilani thanked the U.S. Senate for its support of his country’s democracy. He credited the USG for Pakistan’s relative free and fair elections on February 18. Pakistan’s women had taken on increased leadership roles throughout the new federal and provincial governments, he claimed. Gilani recounted his two meetings with President Bush this past summer and noted that he has also met with candidate (now President-Elect) Barack Obama. He extended congratulations on the recent U.S. elections. Gilani looked forward to a closer relationship with the U.S., ranging from intelligence sharing to educational exchanges.
4. (C) Gilani pressed the USG to share all credible, actionable threat information; “we will hit the targets ourselves,” he promised. Gilani added that drone strikes not only violated Pakistani sovereignty, but also fed anti-U.S. sentiment, making harder his own public case that the struggle against extremists was “Pakistan’s war.” Instead, there was popular pressure on elected officials like himself to forcefully respond to alleged U.S. border incursions, which were “an embarrassment” for the GOP. The “trust gap” should be filled with joint actions, he argued, and, while he might be criticized for such bilateral cooperation, he believed he could effectively convince the public that those targeted were responsible for Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and the killing of innocents at schools, shopping centers and police stations.
5. (C) Gilani stated, “we have the will but not the capacity.” He claimed the GOP was seeing success in separating militants from the tribals and in supporting local militias (lashkars). The police, Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps should be given personnel carriers, weapons, bullet-proof jackets, and training, Gilani urged. The Army, Gilani continued, needed real-time satellite information, gunship and heavy-lift helicopters, and night-vision equipment.
6. (C) “What more proof do you need from us that we are allies against terrorism?,” Gilani asked; after all, Pakistan had lost more soldiers (and civilians) than coalition countries combined, he claimed. Pakistan had also taken an economic hit because of its front-line status in the war on terror. International investment had dried up and domestic capital was being transferred out, he worried. He did thank, however, the “Friends of Pakistan” for their support for an international financing program.
7. (C) Senator Snowe reiterated USG support for Pakistan’s return to democracy and noted the degree to which Pakistanis had suffered in the war on terror. Pakistan was a “key
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ally,” she added, and both countries must agree on a “common approach to our common enemy.” A new U.S. administration was an opportunity for a “reassessment of our joint strategy.” Snowe also noted the high opinion in the U.S. and within the USG for Pakistan’s new civilian administration, the Army’s Kayani, and Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) Pasha, and pointed to the establishment of border coordination centers as positive developments.
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8. (C) “A stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interests,” Gilani said. He had reached out to Afghanistan’s President Karzai (as well as India’s PM Singh) in his first days in office, against the advice of his Foreign Ministry, he noted, which wanted the neighbors to visit here first. All sides needed to “get past petty matters” in order to tackle the terrorism “destroying us all.”
9. (C) Pakistan supported the Paris Donors’ Conference to aid Afghanistan and was moving forward with bilateral talks and jirgas. Gilani noted the continued strain of 3.5 million Afghan refugees inside his country. He complained, however, that Afghanistan had only one border checkpoint to every 10 of Pakistan’s. Also, the GOA had not agreed to biometric-based controls at the border crossings.
10. (C) Gilani asked the U.S. to release to GOP custody Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani arrested in and deported from Afghanistan on charges of assaulting a U.S. law enforcement officer. Gilani argued that the needs of her family and reports of her being ill provided humanitarian grounds for such a transfer. He also argued that her case whipped up mass popular support, diverting his government’s attention from the counterterrorism mission.
11. (U) Codel Snowe did not clear this cable.