Cablegate: Corrected Copy: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif Pledges To
O R 181136Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL LAHORE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3861
INFO AMCONSUL CHENNAI
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
C O N F I D E N T I A L LAHORE 000325
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2018
TAGS: PGOV PTER PREL EFIN PK IN
SUBJECT: CORRECTED COPY: CHIEF MINISTER SHAHBAZ SHARIF PLEDGES TO
CONTINUE STRONG JUD CRACKDOWN
REF: A. A. Lahore 318 B. B. Lahore 314
CLASSIFIED BY: Bryan Hunt, Principal Officer, Consulate Lahore, U.S. Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif told Principal Officer December 13 that he intended to follow the directive to shut down Jamaatud Dawa (JUD). While he planned to take over JUD schools and hospitals, the madrassah network posed a challenge, he admitted. Pushed to cooperate with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Sharif responded that President Asif Zardari should replace Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who has constantly interfered in provincial governance. Asked whether the U.S. government could question Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Hafez Saeed, currently held in house arrest, Sharif said he would look into the matter. Sharif requested that the U.S. provide information that could help implicate Saeed and other LeT and JUD leaders in the coming court cases. End Summary.
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Sharif Plans To Take Over JUD Schools and Hospitals
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2. (C) In a December 13 breakfast meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif told Principal Officer (PO) that he intended to completely shut down Jamaatud Dawa (JUD) (Ref A). He related that he will preside over a meeting with provincial officials to formulate a plan to take over the hospitals and schools previously run by JUD. He expected that taking charge of the JUD's three hospitals in Punjab would occur easily. ""We will use trained doctors to charm the patients with long beards and caps,"" he joked. While he expected to install trained government teachers in the JUD schools, which number in the hundreds, he admitted that assuming control of the schools will pose a greater challenge. Moreover, asked how he will deal with the extensive madrassah network, he had no substantive response.
3. (C) Sharif noted that the other provincial governments have also followed the federal government directive to shut down JUD. While the police in other provinces have taken responsibility, he related that in Azad Kashmir the Pakistan Army has acted to close JUD offices.
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Cooperation with PPP Requires Action Against Governor Taseer
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4. (C) PO pushed Sharif to cooperate with the federal government. Sharif pledged to give his full support to the JUD crackdown, but he complained bitterly that Punjab Governor Salman Taseer has interfered excessively in the governance of the province by refusing to appoint an ombudsman and questioning the Chief Minister's decisions in public (Ref B). He noted that while Prime Minister Gillani has apologized and promised to avoid public criticisms of the provincial government, the Governor has persisted. ""He is impossible to deal with,"" Sharif stressed. Taseer's instructions to intrude likely come from another PPP leader, Sharif surmised. He also recalled that the PPP has not fulfilled the terms of the Charter of Democracy, particularly the complete restoration of the judges. Asked how the PPP can help reconcile with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), Sharif suggested that Governor Taseer be replaced.
5. (C) Sharif recounted that he kept his brother, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, from issuing what could have been a troublesome statement December 12. Nawaz Sharif had planned to complain that ""anti-democratic agencies"" have created the current problem faced by the government, but Shahbaz intervened and explained that such a statement would prove unhelpful, he detailed.
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Prosecution of JUD Leaders Needs Information
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6. (C) Sharif said that he welcomed the deep involvement of the U.S. in calming the tension between Pakistan and India after the Mumbai attacks. In order to prosecute the JUD leaders currently in three-month detention, Shahbaz explained that he will require evidence implicating their involvement in the Mumbai attacks. He noted that proof that originates with the U.S. would have greater credibility than proof produced by India. Any information that he can use in the courts would be very helpful, he appealed.
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Sharif To Look Into Hafez Saeed Access
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7. (C) PO asked if the U.S. government could question Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafez Saeed. Sharif said that he will look into the request and respond soon.
- - - Comment: Shahbaz Remains Strongly Supportive of JUD Crackdown - - -
8. (C) The unwavering attitude displayed by Shahbaz Sharif in shutting down the JUD bodes well for the crackdown. However, he faces a huge challenge in taking over the JUD schools and confronting the madrassah network; teacher training could help ease the burden as he attempts to place government teachers in schools that taught extremist curriculum last week. Moreover, by providing assistance with the prosecution of the JUD leaders, we could help mitigate the possibility that a lack of evidence results in their release. We will continue to work closely with the provincial government to ensure an irreversible shutdown of the JUD.