Cablegate: Insights On Zardari's Plans for the Party,
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #2850/01 2401203
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271203Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8527
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 9049
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 8574
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3685
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 0223
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 5963
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 4766
RUEHIL/ODRP ISLAMABAD PK PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 002850
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/27/2018
TAGS: PGOV PK PREL KJUS PTER
SUBJECT: INSIGHTS ON ZARDARI'S PLANS FOR THE PARTY,
COALITION, AND JUDGES
REF: ISLAMABAD 2731
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Jerry Feierstein for reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: Pakistan People's Party Deputy Secretary General Sheik Mansoor admitted August 27 that his party leadership, including those serving in government, would not focus on the extremist threat or other pressing issues until its Co-Chair Asif Zardari was elected Pakistan's president on September 6. Party members were busy securing deals with factions of the Pakistan Muslim League, Karachi's Muttahida Quami Movement, and religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Mansoor revealed that, if Zardari becomes president, as expected, party management will pass to his sister, parliamentarian Faryal Talpur, to serve as “executor” for Bilawal (Zardari and Bhutto's son). Mansoor recognized that Zardari would have to make good on his promise to the Army to grant former President Pervez Musharraf immunity, but said such a bill would be presented to the National Assembly only after Zardari became president. Lastly, Mansoor claimed that the PPP's plan to gradually reinstate the deposed judges, minus former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, was working, with eight judges returning to the Sindh High Court and possibly a couple of Supreme Court justices also agreeing to the “re-appointment” (septel). End summary.
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2. (C) PolOff met August 27 with Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Deputy Secretary General Sheik Mansoor. Mansoor began by expressing his regret for the August 26 attack against the U.S. Principal Officer in Peshawar. When asked, however, what response or reaction could be expected from the PPP-led GOP, Mansoor hesitated to commit the government to any action. He predicted PPP leaders would focus on counterterrorism/counterinsurgency issues, even in general terms, only after the September 6 presidential election. “Every PPP official is focused on electing PPP Co-Chair Asif Zardari,” he said.
3. (C) Mansoor said the PPP was now in constant contact with leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) “forward bloc,” a faction of Musharraf's party. Mansoor specifically mentioned PML parliamentarian Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo and his faction as already committed to joining the PPP at the federal level.
4. (C) Mansoor admitted that the related PML forward bloc in the Punjab Provincial Assembly, led by Hamid Nasir Chattha, looked likely to align with the predominant Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. But Mansoor revealed that the PPP had informally offered Chattha the Punjab Chief Ministership in an attempt to win him over to the PPP. Because neither Wattoo nor Chattha fit in well with the PML or PML-N, Mansoor predicted that their forward bloc would eventually sit with the PPP at the provincial level. He predicted a PPP/PML-forward bloc Punjab government within a year.
5. (C) Mansoor also said that Karachi's Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) would join PPP in the federal coalition after Zardari's election. (Note: MQM is already aligned with the PPP in the Sindh provincial government.) MQM could expect to get three or four “good” ministries if it supported Zardari's candidacy, Mansoor mentioned.
6. (C) Mansoor added that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam's (JUI-F) Fazlur Rehman was trying to shake down Zardari for “more of everything.” But this was Rehman's modus operandi, said Mansoor, and the PPP expected it, explaining why the JUI-F may have only gotten a couple ministries when it first joined the coalition government. (Note: Following Rehman's August 25 statement that perhaps PPP leader Zardari could not be trusted, Zardari dispatched the GOP Information Minister to win Rehman back to the PPP fold.)
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7. (C) Mansoor further revealed that Zardari sister and parliamentarian Faryal Talpur would take over management of the PPP once Zardari was elected president. (Note: As president, a constitutionally non-political position, Zardari would have to resign as PPP Co-Chair.) Mansoor elaborated, a “steering committee” would be set up to run the party “for Bilawal.” It would include Talpur, but also possibly estranged party Vice Chair Makhdoom Amin Faheem. Talpur, though, would serve as the day-to-day “executor” of Bilawal's inheritance.
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8. (C) Mansoor swore that an immunity package for former President Pervez Musharraf would be presented to the National Assembly after Zardari's election. He dismissed recent news articles reporting the PPP was instead considering following up on the charge sheet against Musharraf. He blamed the party's Senate leader Mian Mohammad Raza Rabbani for advocating Musharraf's prosecution, but said Rabbani was a minority within the PPP Central Executive Committee.
9. (C) Mansoor claimed Law Minister Farooq Naek was already drafting this immunity package, though Mansoor was not very convincing in his claims. He recognized that Zardari would have to deliver on this issue because of his promise to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani (and us).
Gradual Reinstatement of Judges
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10. (C) PolOff also asked about Naek's draft 80-part 18th Amendment, which was proposed in order to curb the president's powers and to bring back the judges deposed by Musharraf last year. Avoiding the specific question, Mansoor only repeated that the judges would be restored to the bench, noting that eight Sindh High Court judges would be “re-appointed” (septel). He added that up to three former Supreme Court justices were also willing to come back.
11. (C) The PPP, Mansoor insisted, was being consistent in its legal interpretation that Musharraf's November 3, 2007, actions were later legally sanctioned. (Note: This legal view was crafted by PPP Senator Latif Khosa, appointed Pakistan's new Attorney General earlier this week.) Consequently, the deposed judges could be restored, with their seniority intact, and placed back on the bench once they took a new oath of office. Mansoor added that none of the post-November 3 judges would be dismissed from the (expanded) courts.
12. (C) This “consistent stance” also fit nicely with Zardari's desire to keep former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry off the bench, Mansoor mentioned. Chaudhry would never accept the terms of “re-appointment,” Mansoor was confident. Plus, Zardari did not want him back, supposedly, because he had become “too political,” making statements against the PPP.
13. (C) Comment: Mansoor exuded confidence over how his party chief Asif Zardari is handling the affairs of the PPP party structure, the federal coalition and the Pakistani public (on such popular issues as the judges' restoration). While it is possible that Zardari can continue to juggle all these issues, there are increasing rumblings about many of Zardari's so far unfulfilled promises. He also faces growing opposition within his PPP ranks. End comment.