Cablegate: Pakistan Reactions to Terror in Mumbai
O 281201Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0405
INFO AMEMBASSY KABUL IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL KARACHI IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL LAHORE IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL MUMBAI IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR IMMEDIATE
CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
FBI WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T ISLAMABAD 003716
EO 12958 DECL: 11/28/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PTER, IN, UK, PK
SUBJECT: PAKISTAN REACTIONS TO TERROR IN MUMBAI
Classified By: Gerald Feierstein, CDA, for reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (S) Summary. President Zardari, PM Gilani and FM Qureshi have made all the right public statements condemning the November 27-28 militant attacks in Mumbai; Gilani has agreed to an Indian request and is sending ISI Chief MG Pasha to India to participate in the investigation. Interior Minister Malik told Charge that Zardari is meeting with appropriate cabinet members November 28 to discuss further possible GOP reaction, and NSA Durrani forwarded via Charge a message to NSA Hadley focusing on the need to jointly fight militants that threaten both Pakistan and India. The UK Embassy in Islamabad advises they have reporting that confirms involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which reportedly plans additional attacks in India. The UK High Commission is suggesting to London that they press the GOP for quick, credible action in the form of arrests of LeT leaders to prevent a feared Indian backlash. The UK believes that New Delhi will be pressed politically to respond, at a minimum with increased proxy action in Balochistan, and at a maximum with attacks on LeT training camps in Kashmir. The UK is seeking to coordinate its message with the U.S. and notes that FM Miliband will see the Secretary on December 1.
2. (S) Post notes there is as yet no direct evidence of GOP involvement in the attack, although the press is reporting that India has captured at least one militant of Pakistani origin. We believe the UK here is overreacting but agree a coordinated message urging concrete GOP action against LeT would be welcome. If the militant plan was to ensure that the Pakistan Army would not shift troops from the eastern border to the tribal areas, the horrific Mumbai attacks may have succeeded. End Summary.
3. (C) President Asif Zardari and PM Gilani both condemned the Mumbai attacks on November 27. Zardari called Congress leader Sonia Ghandi and termed the killing of innocent people a “detestable act” and asked her to convey his grief and sorrow to the people of India and to the families of those who had lost their loved ones. Gilani called PM Manmohan Singh and said “I and the people of Pakistan want to share the pain of the people of India and its government” and called for concerted efforts to make the region a peaceful place. FM Qureshi, who was in India to inaugurate the fifth round of the Indo-Pak Composite Dialogue, noted that he had offered to set up hot lines between the two intelligence chiefs to strengthen their joint anti-terror mechanism. He warned, however, against jumping to conclusions and pointing fingers regarding responsibility.
4. (C) Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Mahmud Durrani called Charge November 28 and asked that the following points be passed to Washington:
-- Pakistan is extremely sorry about the events that have transpired in Mumbai; -- This is a threat that both India and Pakistan are facing together and they need to fight it together; -- President Zardari spoke to Manmohan Singh this morning (he spoke to Sonia Gandhi yesterday)’ -- Prime Minister Gilani also spoke to the Indian PM; -- The Indians have asked the GOP to send ISI officers to India to participate in the investigation; the GOP has agreed; -- India and Pakistan need to avoid being dragged into the militant’s agenda.
5. (C) Charge spoke with Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who reported that Zardari was convening a meeting November 28 to discuss the Pakistani reaction to the Mumbai attacks; Malik promised a readout of the meeting. the Pakistani press carried FM Mukherjee’s November 28 press conference in which he followed up on PM Singh’s comments about a “foreign” hand to say there was prima facie evidence of involvement by Pakistanis in the attacks. Later the press reported that the GOA has one attacker of Pakistani origin in custody. The press also confirmed that Gilani accepted the Indian request to participate in the investigation and is sending ISI Chief MG Pasha to India (date still uncertain) to lead the Pakistani delegation.
6. (S) British High Commission officials in Islamabad told Polcouns November 28 that HMG has evidence the attacks in Mumbai were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was planning more attacks. The UK officials noted that after the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the GOI halted the Composite Dialogue, but this time speculated they will feel the need to respond with force rather than diplomacy. They fear a response could include, at a minimum, increase GOI covert activities in Balochistan or even an aerial bombardment of LeT camps in Azad, Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The UK mission here is proposing that Foreign Secretary Miliband call Zardari and Qureshi and their Chief of Defence Staff call Kayani with the message that Pakistan must act now to take proactive steps to “rescue” the Indo-Pak relationship, suggesting that Islamabad should act before New Delhi demands more. The UK mission is suggesting to London that the UK call for credible actions, perhaps to include arresting senior LeT leaders and “permanently closing down the infrastructure of the militancy.” The UK is seeking to coordinate its message closely with the U.S. and notes that Miliband is due to see the Secretary on December 1.
7. (S) Polcouns noted that, as yet, there was no evidence linking a presumed LeT attack to ISI or the GOP. The UK Polcouns agreed they had no smoking gun but, nevertheless, believed that the pressure on India to react strongly would be impossible politically to avoid. He admitted that UK concern was being driven in part by the presence of up to half a million UK citizens living in AJK.
8. (U) Pakistani media reacted predictably with denials of Pakistani involvement and demands for proof before accusations were made. Dawn TV, echoing the print media, highlighted statements issued by the President and the Prime Minister that “both countries are victims and must join together to combat a common enemy,” and that “the two countries must not fall into the trap of the militants.” Zardari is reported to have told Singh that he recognized he was the first to call him after the Marriott hotel attack in Islamabad. Dawn reports officials saying “the blame game must not begin,” but its own commentators say the blame game is underway. Local print media November 28 mostly reported the event in straight stories with editorials condemning both the attacks and Indian accusations. Some speculated the attacks were meant to undermine Zardari’s outreach to India and juxtaposed the attacks against modest progress in the Composite Dialogue meetings on counter terrorism issues.
9. (S) Comment: For now, we believe the UK Embassy here is overreacting but agree it would be helpful if the GOP could get out ahead of the New Delhi reaction and take proactive measures against LeT leaders.
10. (S) If the militant’s plan was to force the Pakistani Army to re-focus on its eastern border and eliminate any chance (however slight) of moving forces from the Indian border to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), then their plan may have succeeded. The Mumbai attacks likely torpedoed any prospect of Indian CBMs on Kashmir in the immediate future. The decision to send ISI MG Pasha to India, however, is a good sign that both sides are trying to prevent these horrific attacks from undermine all the progress made on bilateral rapprochement.
End Cable Text