Cablegate: Interior Minister Reacts to Pakistani Counterpart
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #2421/01 2310341
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 190341Z AUG 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0908
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002421
DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/A, FBI, CENTCOM
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/05/2019
TAGS: AF PK PREL PINS PTER
SUBJECT: INTERIOR MINISTER REACTS TO PAKISTANI COUNTERPART
REF: A. (A) KABUL 02021
B. (B) OSC ARTICLE: SAP20090719102001
D. (C) OSC ARTICLE: IAP20090719950007
Classified By: Deputy Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d)
1. (S) SUMMARY: Afghan Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar told us that public claims by his Pakistani counterpart that Afghanistan has admitted to hosting Anti-Pakistan terrorist training camps, an outright lie. Atmar said that Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik raised this issue when he visited Afghanistan last month as a special emissary of President Asif Ali Zardari; but, contrary to Malik's claims to the Pakistani media (Ref B) , he had presented neither details nor evidence to support this assertion. He also refuted Malik's statement that Karzai directed Atmar and the National Security Advisor to take action against these alleged camps. Atmar said the move was an indication that Malik is trying to please the ISI by showing that he was brave enough to say these things to President Karzai. He added that he was disappointed by several other factually incorrect comments Malik has made to the media, and that he seemed to be focused on everything but the points of discussion in the upcoming trilateral talks between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S. scheduled for November. Atmar was more circumspect in his public rejection of Malik's remarks (Ref C) END SUMMARY
2. (SBU) Following a July 19th visit to Afghanistan, during which he met with President Karzai and Minister Atmar (Ref A), Pakistani Interior Minister Malik reportedly held a press conference announcing that President Karzai had admitted to him that Afghanistan is hosting Anti-Pakistan terrorist training camps. Atmar said he dismissed the comment when he first heard about it. But when Malik subsequently repeated this and other comments during an interview with Pakistani television station Geo (Ref B on July XX), he felt he had to respond publicly. Atmar discussed his concerns with Malik's comments with Deputy Ambassador Ricciardone in a meeting on another subject on August 2.
3. (SBU) Atmar said there is refugee camp in Kandahar that serves 400 to 500 Balochi and Sindhi separatists who fled Pakistan following former President Musharaff,s crackdown on their separatist movements. But there is no evidence that this site, or any other in Afghanistan, is serving as a training ground for anti-Pakistan terrorists. Atmar said he told Malik that if any such camps existed, surely the U.S. military with its operations in RC-S would have made the GIRoA aware of them. (Note: Neither the GIRoA nor UNHCR run official refugee camps in Kandahar. UNHCR lists only 100 registered refugees within all of Afghanistan, far exceeding the number of persons described above. End note.)
4. (U) Atmar held a press conference on August 2 (Ref C) to dispute several of Malik's allegations. He told the media that the charge that the GIRoA had admitted to hosting these terrorist camps is baseless. "My colleague registered a number of concerns on behalf of the government of Pakistan with our President and President Karzai. Our president promised that if there is any evidence, our government will take strong action against any threat posed to Pakistan from Afghanistan," Atmar told the press. He also challenged Malik's comments that Afghanistan initially was opposed to the installation of biometrics collection stations at border crossing points. Afghanistan has never been against it, and Afghanistan is against selectivity, Atmar told the media. It was suggested at some point that only certain border crossing should have biometrics, but the Afghan position is that the process would only be effective if it was carried out at all crossing points.
5. (U) Atmar also took issue with Malik's statement that 90 percent of terrorists arrested in Pakistan were of Afghan origin. We disagree with this point, Atmar said during the press conference. We have strong evidence that there are four categories of terrorists operating from safe havens, and their sanctuaries are on the other side of the Durand line. He described category one as composed of those with Afghan citizenship; category two is those with Pakistani citizenship; category three identifies those with Central Asian citizenships; and, category four is Al Qaeda operatives with a variety of citizenships. Our position is that it doesn't really matter which country is the origin of the terrorists, Atmar said. What really matters is that we must stop the sanctuaries and destroy the training facilities, the financial support networks, the system whereby terrorists are provided with weapons and the crossing points for the terrorists.
6. (SBU) Malik's public comments are a distraction from the important issues that the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan need to focus on in the upcoming trilateral talks, Atmar told Ricciardone. He hoped his press conference would set the record straight and allow all three parties to focus on more important issues.