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Cablegate: Pakistan: Uk Sees Musharraf's Departure As a 'Good Thing' but Not a Solution

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002143

SIPDIS NOFORN

DEPT FOR SCA/PB - TARA FOLEY E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2018 TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PTER PK UK

SUBJECT: PAKISTAN: UK SEES MUSHARRAF'S DEPARTURE AS A 'GOOD THING' BUT NOT A SOLUTION REF: A. STATE 88734 B. ISLAMABAD 2750 LONDON 00002143 001.2 OF 002

Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills, reasons 1.4 (b/d).

1.(C/NF) Summary. HMG sees Pakistani President Musharraf's departure as preferable to the turmoil a "blazing guns" attempt by Musharraf to stay in office would have caused, FCO contacts told us August 18. Following FCO Political Director Mark Lyall Grant's week of August 11 visit to Pakistan, the UK assesses the differences between the PPP and PML-N will likely cause the Coalition's marriage of convenience to breakdown. After a period of uncertainty and political jockeying, Lyall Grant thinks PML-N Nawaz Sharif will end up as President, and FCO Foreign Secretary David Miliband plans to write to the Secretary offering this assessment. While the means by which Sharif would become President are unclear, a protracted legal battle over executive authority is likely to ensue. HMG is also increasingly concerned about the state of Pakistan's economy. The UK will continue to engage with the civilian government and will encourage the PPP and PML-N to shoulder their responsibilities and quickly resolve the current political impasse. End Summary.

2.(C/NF) The UK Government sees Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's August 18 resignation as a "good thing but not a solution," according to FCO Deputy Head of South Asia Group Rowan Laxton. Laxton explained to us on August 18 that Musharraf's resignation would "avoid the threat to public order and short-term turmoil" that a "blazing guns" attempt by Musharraf to stay in office would have caused. Laxton, however, quickly added that Musharraf's departure was by no means a solution, as HMG does not have confidence in the Coalition Government's ability to come to consensus over who the next President of Pakistan should be.

3.(C/NF) Following FCO Political Director Mark Lyall Grant's week of August 11 visit to Pakistan, Laxton said the UK assessed the differences between Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif over reinstatement of the judges, sharia law, and other basic issues of governance would likely cause the Coalition's marriage of convenience to breakdown. Lyall Grant thought that after a period of political uncertainty and power jockeying, Sharif would end up as President. This key judgment, Laxton said, will be the cornerstone of a letter UK Foreign Secretary Miliband plans to write to the Secretary about the UK's assessment of Pakistan following Lyall Grant's visit.

4.(C/NF) The means by which Sharif would take the presidency are far from clear. HMG assesses new elections are unlikely and that legal uncertainty over what power the President and Prime Minister hold could complicate matters significantly. Lyall Grant thought that there would be protracted legal wrangling over the powers of the executive authority, possibly with various amendments to the Constitution coming into play, according to Laxton. This political uncertainty, against a backdrop of increasing economic problems, does not bode well for Pakistan in the short- to medium-term. "Coming around to the U.S.'s assessment," Laxton said in reference to previous U.S.-UK bilateral talks, HMG is becoming increasingly concerned about Pakistan's economy as well.

HMG Response to Musharraf's Resignation ---------------------------------------

5.(C) In response to Musharraf's resignation, Laxton said both Number Ten and the Foreign Office had released press statements. Prime Minister Brown will also be sending Musharraf a personal message, thanking him for his leadership and strong partnership. The letter will also underscore the strong bonds between the UK and Pakistan through the personal LONDON 00002143 002.2 OF 002 links of their leaders. Laxton said HMG shared our view that Musharraf should be given a dignified exit, and the UK will continue working with the civilian government. HMG also plans to encourage the leadership of both the PPP and the PML-N to shoulder their responsibilities and quickly resolve the current political impasse. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX LEBARON

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