Cablegate: Interior Minister Rehman Malik's September 7 Meeting with Codel Smith
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DE RUEHIL #2184/01 2531215
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O 101215Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4797
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0837
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1261
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5438
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 2208
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 7812
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 002184
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/09/2034
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MOPS KNNP IN AF PK
SUBJECT: INTERIOR MINISTER REHMAN MALIK'S SEPTEMBER 7 MEETING WITH CODEL SMITH
Classified By: Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1.(C) Summary: Interior Minister Rehman Malik underlined Pakistan's commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism in a September 7 meeting with CODEL Smith. He called for better counter-terrorism coordination among Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States, and NATO. Malik painted a very positive picture of the results of Pakistan's counter-insurgency operations in NWFP and the FATA. He recommended the United States cease drone attacks and provide more visible development assistance to improve its public image in Pakistan. Malik alleged Indian, Afghan, and Iranian interference in Pakistan's internal affairs. He complained the Indians have been dilatory in handing over evidence in the Mumbai bombing case, but predicted the Anti-Terrorism Court would hand down guilty verdicts within three to four months. Malik said he had "no clue" about Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts, but expressed doubt that he is still in the region. He reassured CODEL Smith that the Government of Pakistan (GOP) has firm command and control over its nuclear arsenal. End Summary.
2.(C) Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), and Bobby Bright (D-AL), accompanied by the DCM, met with Interior Minister Rehman Malik on September 7. Malik underscored to the CODEL Pakistan's commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism. "Our leadership is determined to take action against terrorists," Malik told the group. He said that he had established the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) within the Ministry of Interior (MOI). Malik claimed that all of the GOP's intelligence agencies are sending intelligence information to the NCMC, which then rapidly disseminates the information to the field. He said that Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States, and NATO need to increase coordination and cooperation on counter-terrorism.
3.(C) Malik painted a very positive picture of the results of Pakistan's counter-insurgency operations in NWFP and the FATA. After Haji Namdar was killed in August 2008, attacks against NATO supply convoys transiting Khyber Agency were dramatically reduced, he claimed. There had been "lots of insurgents" in Malakand Division and Kurram Agency, "but with the help of jirgas and political negotiations, we're doing a lot better in those areas." In Hangu, "we did our job, in spite of resistance." Despite collateral damage in Bajaur Agency, "we resolved the situation there in three weeks." In Mohmand Agency, the government for the first time managed to generate lashkars (local tribal militias) to support the Frontier Corps, "which helped us gain support from the masses." "What we did in Swat in two months," Malik maintained, "no army in the world had done before." In South Waziristan, he argued, "we didn't want to add to the count of internally displaced persons, so we decided on targeted action against Baitullah Mehsud, going after his home town and forcing him to move, after which our friends" - i.e., the United States -- "came to help."
4.(C) Malik recommended that the United States take steps to improve its public image in Pakistan. First, the USG has to find an alternative to drone attacks on Pakistani territory. "Instead, you could give us the technology and provide us with intelligence information," he argued. Second, the USG needs to pay more attention to development assistance, including in the areas of education and health care. "Providing visible support will help," he said.
5.(C) Malik complained about Indian, Afghan, and Iranian interference in Pakistan's internal affairs. He told the CODEL that the Indians are providing training for Baloch separatists. Malik claimed that the GOP has arrested Afghan police fighting alongside terrorists, but chose not to make this public. Iran, he said, is continuing to supply arms and provide funding to Pakistan's Shia extremists.
6.(C) According to Malik, immediately following the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani had offered unconditional assistance to India. However, the Indians were very slow to provide the GOP evidence to prosecute the perpetrators. "They wasted five months," Malik told the CODEL. India, he said, must learn to trust Pakistan's courts, especially because there is no extradition treaty between the two countries. Malik predicted that the Anti-Terrorism Court would hand down ISLAMABAD 00002184 002 OF 002 convictions in the Mumbai case, probably within three to four months.
7.(C) Representative Giffords asked Malik whether he had information about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. Malik responded that he "had no clue," but added that he did not believe that Bin Laden is in the area. Bin Laden sent his family to Iran, so it makes sense that he might have gone there himself, Malik argued. Alternatively, he might be hiding in Saudi Arabia or Yemen, or perhaps he is already dead, he added.
8.(C) Malik reassured the CODEL that the GOP maintains firm command and control over the country's nuclear arsenal. "It's not like you just have to push one button," he explained. Rather, there is a whole oversight committee, which acts responsibly and transparently. "Your own people have taken a look at our system," Malik added.
9.(U) This cable was drafted after CODEL Smith departed Pakistan. PATTERSON