Cablegate: 11th Corps Commander Discusses Jirga, Development Issues and Nwfp Politics
PP RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHPW #0413/01 2141212
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021212Z AUG 06
FM AMCONSUL PESHAWAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6677
INFO RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 2505
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 0942
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 0934
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 2315
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0490
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0299
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PESHAWAR 000413
E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/2/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PK AF
SUBJECT: 11TH CORPS COMMANDER DISCUSSES JIRGA, DEVELOPMENT ISSUES AND NWFP POLITICS
REF: A) PESHAWAR 360; B) ISLAMABAD 13677; C) ISLAMABAD 14209
CLASSIFIED BY: Gautam Rana, Political Officer, U.S. Consulate
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: 11th Corps Commander Lt. General Hamid Khan expressed optimism that the jirga organized by the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) Governor Ali Jan Orakzai will be successful. If not, he plans to "hammer" the militants into submission. Khan does not plan to negotiate with foreign militants and is currently working on a strategy to create separation between the local tribesman and foreigners in the FATA. The general advocated for economic development projects with an immediate effect, particularly in the textile and mineral industries, that would help placate FATA militants.
Khan also criticized the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) religious coalition that currently governs the NWFP, bluntly stating they would not be allowed to return for a second term in office. End summary.
Jirga or the Hammer
2. (C) Khan expressed optimism that the jirga organized by Governor Orakzai will be successful. The militants had sued for talks because Khan had been "hammering" them since January, killing over 400 fighters. Military operations by themselves would not bring an end to the insurgency, but required a political solution. However, if the jirga efforts failed, Khan claimed he would "hammer" them even harder than before, with more forces and "everything I have." The militants are aware of this and he did not believe they would challenge the Army.
3. (C) Khan conceded the militants, especially foreign fighters, were dispersing to other agencies from North Wazirstan during the current lull -- most likely to South Wazirstan, and up north to Bajaur. There would be no peace or negotiations with foreign militants, and Khan maintained that he had a plan for the foreigners "that even the Governor does not know about." He did not elaborate, but explained his strategy is to drive a wedge between the foreigners and the local population. Khan distinguished Afghans from the militants, noting the former were
"simple people." He did not perceive Afghans to be a threat and is not planning any action against them. He expressed bitterness at President Karzai's comments blaming Pakistan for Afghanistan's current problems, and rejected other criticisms of Pakistani efforts. The key to the FATA problem, according to Khan, is Afghan development. Without political and economic development across the border, there will continue to be problems in the FATA. "After five years what has Karzai done? Nothing. The problem is across the border, not in FATA," claimed Khan.
4. (C) According to Khan, long-term development is extremely important and entails building schools, roads, health clinics, and generally improving the lives of the tribals. However, development projects that have an immediate impact are even more critical. Khan emphasized economic and industrial development, especially in the textile and mineral industries: "If people see the development, the fighting will stop".
5. (C) He reiterated comments he made to us earlier that the Governor's office lacks capacity to implement development schemes, and will probably not be able to do so for 5 to 10 years. The only institution capable of executing wide-scale development projects is the Army, and it should continue to play a central role in the coming years.
6. (C) Khan criticized the MMA government in the NWFP. He explained, "We need to ensure the mullahs don't get a second term. The common person doesn't understand what they're doing, so they're still popular." Khan said he had recently talked to President Musharraf about this issue, and bluntly added "it might require manipulation" but "we will separate them and ensure they do not return for a second term."
7. (C) Clearly speaking in support of Pres. Musharraf and the PML-Q, he noted "we need to create new alliances" -- Fazlur Rehman would go to the highest bidder, but Qazi Hussain is more of a problem, though "nothing" without the MMA.
8. (C) "ANP is the logical partner, but their party chief, Senator Asfandyar Khan, has too many ties to India and Afghanistan," stated Khan. He plans to meet with Senator Asfandyar soon to "sniff him out."
9. (C) COMMENT: General Khan took pains to emphasize that he sees himself as "the hammer" that brought local Islamic militants to the negotiation table - effectively playing the bad cop while Governor Orakzai plays the good cop. If jirga efforts fail to end the insurgency in North Waziristan, he seems committed to wielding the stick first and asking questions later. END COMMENT.
10. This cable has been approved by Embassy Islamabad.