Cablegate: Zardari to Petraeus: "Defeat Is Not an Option"
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #3593/01 3200502
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150502Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0105
RHWSMRC/USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 9398
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9089
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 4025
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 0612
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 6344
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 5196
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 003593
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2018
TAGS: PREL PTER PGOV PK
SUBJECT: ZARDARI TO PETRAEUS: "DEFEAT IS NOT AN OPTION"
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (C) Summary. During a November 3 meeting with CENTCOM
Commander Petraeus, President Zardari repeated his commitment
to fight terrorism, saying "defeat is not an option." He
renewed his request for U.S. economic support, indicated he
could support some unilateral U.S. military actions if they
were worth the price of negative reactions, and outlined
various plans to combat extremism and improve the economy.
General Petraeus noted that "your success is our success" in
the fight against extremism and said he would work to ensure
that the short-term gains of U.S. strikes would not be
outweighed by their consequences. Zardari reported he
planned to visit Kabul in the coming months. End Summary.
2. (C) On November 3, Ambassador and CENTCOM Commander
General Petraeus met with President Asif Zardari. Also
attending were Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia
Richard Boucher, Office of Defense Cooperation Pakistan Rear
Admiral Michael LeFever, Polcouns (notetaker), Chief of Army
Staff General Kayani, and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.
3. (C) Petraeus noted that he had deliberately made
Pakistan his first overseas stop after taking command of
CENTCOM. He had received from General Kayani a good layout
of Pakistan's campaign strategy against extremist militants
and praised Pakistan's success in enacting a joint
parliamentary resolution against extremism. Zardari said that
"we intend to finish the job; defeat is not an option." The
militants, said Zardari, want my job and the state is
literally now at stake as the lives of 180 million Pakistanis
depended on success in the fight. Petraeus agreed on the
importance of obtaining public support for the campaign
against terrorism. The effort would require combined
political, economic, military and diplomatic engagement.
"Your success is our success," he said.
4. (C) Petraeus described how some of the lessons American
forces learned in Iraq were applicable in Pakistan. Zardari
noted that Pakistan had been fighting militancy from before
9/11; Benazir Bhutto long ago had warned Washington about the
dangers of Osama bin Laden. She had negotiated with
Washington to return and build a democratic government that
could better take on the war. Petraeus noted that he had met
over dinner with members of the parliament, including some
5. (C) Zardari said his government had taken ownership of
the terrorism issue and was working to increase public
support, but this was not a one day/one generation war. He
needed new laws to normalize procedures for those arrested
and spoke of the Saudi model that provided a kind of
terrorist detoxification program after a detainee admitted
guilt. Petraeus recalled the way the Saudis overcame an
existential threat four years ago by using a comprehensive
approach that included intelligence, moderate religious
education, mosque overhauls, and funding to root out
extremists. Zardari said he wanted to borrow from that
model, and modify it according to Pakistani customs.
6. (C) Saying Pakistan was a rich country in resources but
needed short-term help due to the international economic
situation, Zardari urged U.S. support through the Friends of
Pakistan to sustain the country while he created a middle
class and fought extremism. The Taliban, he said, can outpay
my soldiers and he needed to compensate persons displaced by
the fighting. He was seeking to pay one thousand rupees each
to Pakistanis displaced by the current fighting in Bajaur,
but did not have adequate resources to reach all the
displaced, and it was snowing already in the mountains.
Zardari identified poverty, refugee camps and madrassahs as
ongoing problems that bred extremism.
7. (C) Zardari said he needed help from Pakistan's oil-rich
neighbors and was going to Saudi Arabia to ask for resources.
He also had asked China for assistance with steel mill
construction and other projects. Zardari expressed dismay
that time had run out in the U.S. Congress before it could
enact the Biden/Lugar assistance bill, but said Pakistan
would engage with the new Congress with a "road show" to
convince them to open up U.S. markets that would create jobs.
What was needed, said Zardari, was a Marshall Plan to "help
us help ourselves. If we slip, we go back to zero."
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8. (C) In an oblique reference to U.S. unilateral military
actions, Zardari suggested that the U.S. work collectively
with the Pakistani Army to be more interactive and coordinate
operations across the Afghan border. Petraeus noted that he
had "received the same message" repeatedly all day. Zardari
said "we can agree to disagree;" Petraeus responded that the
two sides were closer than it seemed. He would work to
ensure that the short-term gains of strikes would not be
outweighed by their consequences. Zardari said he did not
mind paying the price for high-value targets, but it did not
appear that Osama bin Laden had been in our sights lately.
Pakistan,s security forces were fighting, and he was working
to build popular support for Pakistan's war. The Marriott
bombing had helped to reinforce the message. Hopefully, he
said, Pakistani forces can push the militants into the
mountains where the GOP could act against them.
9. (C) Zardari said he was also working on building
"regional ownership" of the extremism problem. He was
building good will with India and wanted to increase trade.
He wanted to convince Indian leaders they needed ownership of
problems in Afghanistan because Pakistan and India cannot
solve the Kashmir issue if Indian intelligence can take
advantage in Afghanistan. Zardari plans to visit Kabul on an
official tour in the coming months; he said he recently met
with the Indian Prime Minister, who he thought was not
particularly well-informed on Indian intelligence activities
in Afghanistan. Zardari thought that perhaps the UK could
help with this initiative.