Cablegate: Addressing Concerns About Pakistan Security
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O 101440Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4799
INFO CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
NSC WASHINGTON DC
S E C R E T ISLAMABAD 002185
EO 12958 DECL: 09/07/2034
TAGS PGOV, PHUM, PTER, MOPS, MASS, KJUS, PK
SUBJECT: ADDRESSING CONCERNS ABOUT PAKISTAN SECURITY
FORCES’ HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
REF: ISLAMABAD 2074
Classified By: Derived from DSCG 05-01, b and d
1. (S/NF) A growing body of evidence is lending credence to allegations of human rights abuses by Pakistan security forces during domestic operations against terrorists in Malakand Division and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. While it is oftentimes difficult to attribute with accuracy any responsibility for such abuses, reporting from a variety of sources suggests that Frontier Corps and regular Pakistan Army units involved in direct combat with terrorists may have been involved. The crux of the problem appears to center on the treatment of terrorists detained in battlefield operations and have focused on the extra-judicial killing of some detainees. The detainees involved were in the custody of Frontier Corps or Pakistan Army units. The allegations of extra-judicial killings generally do not/not extend to what are locally referred to as “the disappeared” -- high-value terrorist suspects and domestic insurgents who are being held incommunicado by Pakistani intelligence agencies including the Inter-Services Intelligence Division (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) in their facilities.
2. (S/NF) Revenge for terrorist attacks on Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps personnel is believed to be one of the primary motivating factors for the extra-judicial killings. Cultural traditions place a strong importance on such revenge killings, which are seen as key to maintaining a unit’s honor. Senior military commanders have equally and repeatedly stressed their concerns that the court’s are incapable of dealing with many of those detained on the battlefield and their fears that if detainees are handed over to the courts and formally charged, they will be released, placing Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps troops at risk. This fear is well-founded as both Anti-Terrorism Courts and the appellate judiciary have a poor track record of dealing with suspects detained in combat operations such as the Red Mosque operation in Islamabad and have repeatedly ordered their unconditional release. Post assesses that the lack of viable prosecution and punishment options available to the Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps is a contributing factor in allowing extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses of detained terrorist combatants to proceed. There may be as many as 5000 such terrorist detainees currently in the custody of the Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps from operations in Malakand, Bajaur, and Mohmand. As operations in these areas and other parts of the FATA proceed, this number will increase.
3. (S/NF) NWFP Police have also been implicated in the abuse and extra-judicial killing of terrorist suspects that they believe responsible for attacks on police stations and individuals in the run-up to the conflict. This is a separate problem set from those detained in combat by Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army units. The NWFP Inspector General of Police has publicly announced the establishment of a Human Rights Unit within his office to prevent, investigate, and punish human rights violations committed by his forces. As a component of the police training program that we are now standing up for the NWFP, post intends to offer assistance to the Inspector General of Police and his new unit on education and prevention of human rights abuses and investigations and prosecutions where abuses are suspected.
4. (S/NF) In an effort to stem extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses of these detained in combat by Pakistan security forces, post is proposing a multi-pronged approach as follows:
-- Diplomatic Engagement: Continue to privately raise this issue repeatedly and at the highest levels of the Pakistan government and military. Ensure that expressions of concern over the alleged extra-judicial killings coupled with calls for transparent investigations and, as appropriate, prosecution are included in the talking points of all senior USG civilian and military visitors in meetings with Pakistani civilian and military counterparts. Timeline: Ongoing. Funding: None required.
-- Offer Assistance: Coordinate with the British High Commission on an offer of assistance to the Defense Minister and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). To the Defense Minister propose assistance in drafting a new Presidential Order that would create a parallel administrative track for charging and sentencing terrorists detained by the military in combat operations. Amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act are already well underway. To the COAS, propose bringing over a team of American and British experts to evaluate the detainee issue and to determine jointly what assistance is required from coalition partners. If COAS agreement is forthcoming, bring over a team of American military lawyers to meet with Pakistan military officials with a view to obtaining concurrence on training in battlefield evidence collection, investigation and prosecution of human rights abuses by military personnel, and assistance on drafting the new Presidential Order proposed to the Defense Minister: Timeline: Meeting with COAS and Defense Minister by end of September 09. Team deployed by October 09. Funding: Reallocation of existing Foreign Assistance funding.
-- Evaluate Detainee Situation: Local Pakistan military commanders and FATA/NWFP officials have approached various offices with request for assistance on dealing with detained combatants under the guise of reintegration. Post proposes bringing over a senior representative from INL’s prison reform office to lay the groundwork for a visiting team that would conduct a formal assessment of conditions and infrastructure/personnel/systems needs of the local prison system for potentially housing these detainees. This report would form the baseline for development of an assistance strategy to help the GOP address the issue. Timeline: INL initial visit in September 2009. Followed by assessment mission in October 2009 with report to be completed by November 2009. Funding: INCLE funds will need to be reallocated.
-- Draft Ordinance: Get UK agreement to lead a team of British, and possibly American, experts to work with the Pakistan Defense Ministry and Army to draft a new Presidential Ordinance for the administrative prosecution and punishment of terrorists detained in combat operations (this process is already underway in Pakistan). Representatives of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will need to agree to participate in the drafting process. Post will approach the HRCP at an appropriate time but will require Washington/Geneva assistance in obtaining ICRC agreement. Adoption of the Presidential Ordinance would offer a credible way for the Pakistan military/government to prosecute and punish terrorists detained in combat operations. Timeline: Deploy team by December 09 with a view to completing ordinance by April 2010. Funding: Reallocation of existing Foreign Assistance funds.
-- Pakistani JAG and Intelligence Officer Training: Offer Detainee Operations training for Pakistan’s JAG and intelligence officers. This five-day course would cover evidence collection on the battlefield, proper detainee handling, interrogations, international humanitarian law, laws governing internal armed conflicts, and war crime prosecutions. Timeline: Training courses to begin by January 2010. Funding: IMET funds have been allocated for this training.
-- Assist in Implementation of Ordinance: Provide training to Pakistan military and Frontier Corps personnel on collection of battlefield evidence and its use in prosecution. Coordinate with British on providing appropriate training for personnel of administrative structure to be established through Presidential ordinance. Timeline: Training courses to begin by May 2010. Funding: Reallocation of existing IMET and other Foreign Assistance funding.
-- Prison Reform: Design and fund a prison reform program to construct/rehabilitate existing federal/provincial prisons to accommodate terrorists detained in combat operations both pre-trial and post-conviction. Convince other donors to assist GOP in developing post-release programs to reintegrate into their communities detainees deemed not fit for trial or those who have served their sentences. Timeline: Launch prison reform program by October 2010. Approach donors on reintegration by September 2010 through SRAP. Funding: New INCLE funds will be needed.
4. (S/NF) Comment: Post fully recognizes that there is little that the USG can do to change the culture of revenge that underlies many of the extra-judicial killings taking place in the Malakand Division and FATA. However, it is our view that if senior commanders are offered a viable alternate to deal with detained combatants and a credible detention facility under control of the Prisons Department is established, the prevalence of human rights abuses will diminish. Post recognizes that much of this is dependent on goodwill within the Pakistan military and civilian establishment that can easily erode if too much public criticism from USG officials over these incidents is forthcoming. For this reason, post advises that we avoid comment on these incidents to the extent possible and that efforts remain focused on dialogue and the assistance strategy outlined above. End Comment.