Cablegate: Durrani Tells Boucher of Successful Visit to India
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 003402
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2018
TAGS: PREL PTER PGOV PK
SUBJECT: DURRANI TELLS BOUCHER OF SUCCESSFUL VISIT TO INDIA
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (C) Summary. During an October 20 meeting with Assistant Secretary Boucher, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Durrani said military progress in Bajaur was slow because militants were being reinforced with fighters from Afghanistan, neighboring tribal areas and from Arab and North African fighters. He urged that any efforts to incorporate the tribal areas into Pakistan proceed slowly and take account of both constitutional and tribal equities. Durrani reported that his visit to India had been "unusually good." He assured the Indians that Pakistan was not involved in the attack on the Indian consulate in Kabul; the Indians assured him they were not supporting secessionist activities in Balochistan. Progress on Sir Creek was possible, although not for the moment on Siachen. The Indian government assured Durrani it intended to continue keeping its commitments on water sharing, but there simply was less water to share this year. Former National Security Advisor Tariq Aziz has agreed to continue his mediator role in back-channel talks, but this time in a private capacity. End Summary.
2. (C) On October 20, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher and Ambassador met with National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Mahmood Durrani. SCA Senior Advisor Caitlin Hayden and Polcouns also attended.
Tribal Areas Future
3. (C) Durrani said the ongoing special joint session of the parliament on the security situation had taken on a distinctly anti-American character. He had drafted the Prime Minister's statement and launched a campaign to recoin the "war on terror" phrase, which only made it appear as if Pakistan was fighting America's war. He recommended supporting change within the constitution and opposing those who want to impose their own socio-religious regime on the population.
4. (C) Assistant Secretary Boucher asked if the government planned to move forward with bringing the tribal areas into the regular legal administration of Pakistan. Durrani cautioned that change would have to be incremental given the delicate security situation; any amendments to the Frontier Crimes Regulation should be slow and enshrined by both the constitution and traditional tribal jirgas. The way the princely state of Swat was hastily incorporated into the Northwest Frontier Province formed the basis of today's problems there; this was a cautionary tale for the future of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas said Durrani. Boucher said it was our policy to leave the politics of the issue to the Pakistani government and focus instead on building an administrative capacity to implement development projects. Durrani said Pakistan could not wait for long-term development in the tribal areas; he advocated for quick-relief projects and creating jobs as soon as possible.
5. (S) Boucher asked if the Pakistani Army had turned a corner in Bajaur and whether a resurgence of tribal lashkars was helping. Durrani said the security forces were doing better than before and there was a new resolve to take the campaign to completion; that resolve had been missing in Swat last year. The lashkars (tribal militia) were helpful, although the Political Agents had a hand in motivating them. Durrani agreed that progress in Bajaur had been more difficult than expected because of the inflow of fighters from Afghanistan, Mohmand and other tribal areas in Pakistan, and from increased Arab and North African foreign fighters.
6. (S) Durrani would not say everything was "hunky-dory" but they were following a coherent strategy. The security forces needed to be flexible and follow military action with aid/development to civilians. It might be possible, said Durrani, for the Army itself to begin reconstruction efforts. Boucher said he had heard impressive things about the new Frontier Corps Inspector General and was encouraged that efforts to train the Frontier Corps were underway and that USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives was delivering small-scale relief projects in the area. Durrani cautioned
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that we should not ignore the Commander of the XI Corps as we worked with the Frontier Corps commander.
Optimism on Indo-Pak Relations
7. (C) Durrani described his recent counterparts visit with National Security Advisor Narayanan as "unusually good." He had been able to build on his track two contacts and was received "as a friend with open arms." Referring to the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Durrani told N that Pakistan "Inter-Services Intelligence didn't do it." He admitted that "we have some contacts with bad guys and perhaps one of them did it," but denied any direct responsibility. Narayanan, he said, also admitted that he had gotten carried away and was a "little harsh with us."
8. (C) The Indians had "lots of complaints" about allegedly 39 violations of the Line of Control this year. The Indian Foreign Secretary told Durrani bluntly, said Durrani, that the Indian view was that after Musharraf lost control, the Pakistani Army went back to its old ways. Durrani pointed out that Musharraf had blocked "launch efforts" in Kashmir but said that perhaps one specific battalion on the border was a source of trouble. Pakistan had recommend that the two Directors General of Military Operations meet more regularly; the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had rejected that idea because of objection from their military. Ambassador Boucher noted that it was in Pakistan's interest to stay "as clean as possible" on Kashmir so the Indians could not use Line of Control violations as an excuse to avoid dealing with growing problems. Durrani noted that in the past Pakistan has jumped on the Kashmir bandwagon whenever there were problems on the Indian side; this time Pakistan had remained quiet.
9. (C) Durrani said, despite the facts, he took at face value the Indian Prime Minister's claim that "150% they were not involved in creating instability in Balochistan." Durrani received for the first time an Indian National Security Council briefing on what India was doing in Afghanistan. The briefing was "elaborate" and covered the details of ongoing development work; the Indians noted that they were suffering a casualty every one and half kilometers in this effort.
10. (C) On Sir Creek, Durrani said he believed the two sides were very close and that a deal was possible. He felt that politically both Pakistan and India were ready to support an agreement and that the "contours" of an agreement had been worked out with the Pakistani military. According to Durrani, however, the Indian Army was opposed to making progress on the Siachen Glacier; he was told by the Indians to "forget it," so perhaps progress was only possible on Siachen within a more comprehensive framework. Durrani confirmed that Musharraf National Security Advisor Tariq Aziz had agreed to continue his back-channel negotiations, but in a private capacity. Boucher said we should keep nudging forward, although it was not clear how much could be accomplished before the Indian elections.
11. (C) On water issues, Durrani said the Indian Prime Minster Singh "spent a great deal of energy" reassuring him on India's commitment to abide by agreements on water sharing in the Indus River Basin. Singh said the reality was that there was simply less water to give this year. The Governor of Kashmir provided the same assurances that "we aren't playing games on water" and praised the breakthrough on renewed trade across the Line of Control. Ambassador Boucher agreed that there was good news on increased Indo-Pak trade and said both sides should seek to expand that trade, especially for agricultural goods. Durrani said the current government is committed to good relations but it needed to take Nawaz Sharif along to make any real progress.
12. (U) Ambassador Boucher has cleared this message.