Cablegate: Fm Briefs Diplomatic Corps On Mumbai; Goi Embassy
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FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
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RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 5326
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 003783
EO 12958 DECL: 08/04/2018
TAGS PREL, PTER, PGOV, PK
SUBJECT: FM BRIEFS DIPLOMATIC CORPS ON MUMBAI; GOI EMBASSY
DRAWS DISTINCTION BETWEEN ISI AND CIVILIAN LEADERS
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (S) Summary. FM Qureshi briefed the diplomatic corps December 2 on the GOP reaction to the Mumbai attacks. He complained about the negative effect of Indian media hype and announced that Pakistan was proposing a joint investigation led by the two National Security Advisors. He reiterated that Pakistan stands ready to assist this investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. The two intelligence chiefs, he said, could meet “in due course.” He urged the corps to use its influence to counsel restraint. He also announced that the Secretary would visit December 4. Following the meeting MFA Additional Secretary Chaudhry said that ISI reported the phone numbers of the individual about whom the U.S. and UK had passed information were not working numbers.
2. (C) The Indian Polcouns said the GOI policy was to distinguish between the Pakistani civilian government, which India believed was not involved in the attacks, and the ISI. “We are not yet ready to give ISI a clean chit,” he said. He emphasized the India had not mobilized its troops and denied there had been any phone call from FM Mukherjee to President Zardari, insisting that India had made no threats against Pakistan and was awaiting the results of the investigation. Based on the interrogation of the Pakistani militant arrested in Mumbai, India was “absolutely certain” that the attacks had been planned and launched in Pakistan. There would be a “pause” in the Indo-Pak relationship; the extent of that pause depended on the Pakistani response. The best place to start would be the repatriation of fugitives, as requested in the latest Indian diplomatic note.
3. (C) Separately, PM Gilani briefed all Pakistani political party leaders on the situation. In a press conference after the meeting, Gilani said Pakistan had proposed a joint investigation of the Mumbai attacks, the whole nation was united to defend Pakistan, there was complete coordination between Pakistan’s armed forces and its government. He also warned against trading blame and called for both sides to exhibit seriousness and patience. The Indian High Commissioner called on Pakistan Muslim League-N opposition leader Nawaz Sharif; afterwards, Sharif told the press the GOI had not blamed the GOP or any of its institutions for the incident in Mumbai. End Summary.
Qureshi Briefs the Diplomatic Corps
4. (C) FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi briefed the diplomatic corps December 2 on the GOP reaction to the Mumbai attacks. Qureshi explained the MFA had organized the briefing “considering the media hype and some irresponsible journalism on the Indian side.” He reiterated the GOP commitment to improve relations with India, noted recent successful meetings on the Composite Dialogue and between the two Interior Ministries, and described the positive atmosphere during his recent trip to New Delhi. Emphasizing that he had remained in India even after the bombing to express condolences and condemnation, Qureshi described the attacks as “ghastly, tragic and inhumane.” But he lamented that the Indian media began accusing Pakistan instantaneously; he repeated his mantra that the two sides must avoid the blame game and join hands against a common enemy.
5. (C) Qureshi said that when he returned from India on November 29, he received a demarche from the GOI. (Note: Qureshi told us previously that India in the demarche said the attacks had been planned and launched in Pakistan.) Qureshi then read the text of the GOP’s response. Pakistan condemned the Mumbai attacks in stringent terms, offered condolences to the victims and their families, and assured India of its utmost cooperation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Terrorism was a major challenge for both countries, and they should enhance their cooperation and coordination to fight terrorism through sustained, multi-year cooperation. Pakistan is proposing a joint Indo-Pak investigation headed by the two National Security Advisors. They stand ready as soon as possible to assist in bringing the perpetrators to justice. The respective intelligence chiefs could meet in due course. This response was sent to India on December 1.
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6. (C) Qureshi said he had received a second diplomatic note late on December 1; they were in the process of reviewing it and would respond appropriately. (Note: The Indian Polcouns in Islamabad advised Polcouns December 2 that in the note, the GOI requested the extradition of Masood Azhar, the head of the defunct Jaish-e-Mohammed and wanted for the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, Dawood Ibrahim, a mafia-style don with links to the 1993 bombings in Mumbai, and for Pakistan to “shut down” Hafiz Saeed, the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the new name for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) organization.)
7. (C) Qureshi announced that the Secretary was coming to Islamabad after visiting India. He noted that he had been in contact many of his counterparts, including the UK, Italians, Chinese, Emiris, and EU/Solana and would try to call the French and Canadians. Noting again that the Indian press was reporting all sorts of false information, including reports of troop mobilization, cuts in air/rail links and suggestions that ambassadors had been recalled, Qureshi asked the diplomatic corps to use its influence and restraint to calm the situation.
8. (S) After the meeting, MFA Additional Secretary for South Asia Aizaz Chaudhry told Polcouns that the GOP was relieved that the GOI had not made any specific allegations of official government involvement; the problem was with the Indian press. He noted that he had met with ISI and reported that the phone numbers of the individual that the U.S. and UK had shared with ISI were no longer working. Personally, Chaudhry agreed that the GOP would have to take steps against LeT, and he had recommended that course of action to Queshi.
9. (C) The Spanish ambassador advised that the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy were forming a sub-group within the EU led by President Sarkozy, who planned to call the Indian and Pakistani leaders on December 2 to urge India not to demand too much and urge Pakistan to deliver on the Indian requests. The Turkish DCM confirmed that Zardari would travel to Ankara December 4 for tripartite meetings with President Karzai.
Indian High Commission: Distinction between Civilians and ISI
10. (C) Separately, the Indian Polcouns P. Kumaran in Islamabad told Polcouns that the GOI was making a distinction between the civilian government, which they firmly believed had no involvement in the attacks, and the military/ISI. “We are not yet ready to give ISI a clean chit,” although he said the GOI was making no accusations, yet, of direct ISI involvement. Based on its interrogation of the Pakistani terrorist arrested during the attack, the GOI is “absolutely certain” that the attacks originated in Pakistan. The individual arrested admitted he was trained in Karachi and said he came from a village (Faridkat) near Multan, in the Punjab. They also confiscated a satellite phone and traced calls to Lahore, Jalalabad and LeT training chief Muzammil.
11. (C) “We are still investigating,” said Kumaran, and “at some stage” we would like the ISI chief to visit and see what we can do together. He flatly denied there had been any phone call from FM Mukherjee to President Zardari. He emphasized that India has issued no war warnings to Pakistan and had not mobilized its forces. There would, however, be a “pause” in the relationship; the length of that pause would depend on what actions the Pakistanis took. During anti-terrorism bilaterals, the GOI had given the names of 19-20 fugitives to the GOP that they wanted arrested. A good place to start rapprochement, according to Kumaran, would be for the GOP to start turning over some of these fugitives.
Indian HC Meets Nawaz Sharif
12. (C) Kumaran confirmed that the Indian High Commissioner called December 2 on Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif, saying that the Indian Embassy had a policy of “staying in touch” with Nawaz. He did not have a readout of the meeting, but the press quoted Nawaz as saying the Indian government had not blamed the GOP for the incidents in Mumbai
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and commented that the Indians should not jump the gun before investigating thoroughly. Otherwise, Nawaz used the opportunity to criticize President Zardari, announce the PML-N would start a campaign against Chief Justice Dogar (over allegations he secured a higher test score for his daughter in exams), and criticized the government for not implementing the joint parliamentary resolution on extremism and giving former President Musharraf VIP treatment.
PM Holds All Parties Meeting
13. (SBU) Following a meeting called to brief all the political parties on the Indo-Pak situation, PM Gilani issued a press statement saying: the GOP extends its hand of cooperation to India and are willing to jointly investigate the recent events; both sides should exhibit seriousness and patience; this was not a time for trading blame; the whole nation is united to defend Pakistan and there is a complete coordination between Pakistan’s armed forces and its government; and there is no fear of war because we are in touch with our friends.