Cablegate: Gop Denies Agreement to Transfer Beradar To
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Friday, 26 February 2010, 16:18
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 000461
EO 12958 DECL: 02/26/2020
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PTER, PK, AF
SUBJECT: GOP DENIES AGREEMENT TO TRANSFER BERADAR TO
AFGHANISTAN; LAHORE HIGH COURT INTERVENES
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Classified By: Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b) (d)
1. (C) Summary: On February 26, the Lahore High Court reportedly barred the Government of Pakistan (GOP) from extraditing Mullah Beradar and four other Afghan Taliban leaders, pending a hearing on March 15 to which both the federal government and concerned provincial governments have been summoned. The LHC’s ruling comes on the heels of a February 25 petition filed by Khalid Khawaja, the Chief Coordinator of the Defense Human Rights Commission, challenging the &unlawful8 detention of the Afghan Taliban leaders. The same day of Khawaja’s petition, the press had reported that President Karzai’s office had released a statement noting that the GOP had agreed to hand over Mullah Beradar and other Taliban to Afghan authorities. During a February 24 tripartite meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Afghan Interior Minister Atmar Hanif, Pakistan Minister of Interior Rehman Malik made no commitment of the GOP handing over to Afghanistan the Afghan Taliban leaders in question, but agreed to study the issue. The Pakistani delegation asked for the “deportation” of Baloch separatists, including Bramdagh Bugti. Malik confirmed to Ambassador on February 26 that the GOP, in fact, has made no such assurances of Beradar’s transfer. End Summary.
The LHC Steps Intervenes in Beradar Case
2. (C) The Lahore High Court (LHC) on February 26 reportedly issued an order barring the extradition of Mullah Beradar and four other individuals named in a February 25 petition brought forward by Khalid Khawaja challenging their detention. Khawaja, the Chief Coordinator of the Defense Human Rights Commission, filed a petition dated February 25 in the LHC calling on the Government of Pakistan to treat the detained Afghan Taliban &in accordance with law in the interest of justice, equity and conscience8 and asks that it refuse any transfer of the individuals named in the petition. Khawaja heavily cited various media reports about Beradar’s capture as evidence supporting his petition. (Note: Khawaja is currently defending the five Americans arrested in Sargodha and is known to be a pro-extremist activist and lawyer. End Note)
3. (U) Khawaja claims that the detention of the Taliban Afghan in Pakistani custody is against the law, violating Article 4, 10, and 11 of the Constitution. He argues that the individuals have not been brought before any court, that they have not been provided with the grounds for their arrest, and that they have not had access to counsel of their choice. Khawaja further charges that the &raid by the US agencies and investigation by them is against the provisions of the Constitution and humiliation of the sovereignty of the state.8
4. (U) In the petition, Khawaja asks the LHC to “restrain” the GOP from &handing over or escorting the detenus/accused...to America, Afghanistan or any other country as they are to be tried, if need be, under law of the land.8 Khawaja further pleads that the detainees be produced before the courts, that any investigation of the detainees should be done independently of the &FBI or any other foreign intelligence agency,8 that the FBI and other American officials be restrained from interfering in Pakistan’s affairs, and that the grounds for the arrest of the individuals in question be produced.
No GOP Assurances at Tripartite of Beradar Transfer
5. (C) The Beradar arrest was raised at a February 24 tripartite meeting of FBI Director Robert Mueller, Minister Rehman Malik of the Pakistan Ministry of Interior, and Minister Atmar Hanif of the Afghan Ministry of Interior in Islamabad. There was no agreement from either side about the transfer of “wanted persons.”
6. (C) In the meeting, Malik provided a list of Pakistan’s Most Wanted to Atmar, and requested the same from Atmar. Malik named one of the Most Wanted, known Baloch separatist Bramdagh Bugti, and asked Atmar to assist in locating the individual and returning him to Pakistan. Malik also stated
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that both countries had expressed interest in passing prisoner lists naming the nationals of one country being detained by the other country. Atmar said his government did not know where the Baloch separatists were located and would need more information from the GOP to find them.
7. (C) Atmar highlighted that three Afghan Taliban leaders, including Mullah Beradar, had been recently detained in Pakistan and advised that Afghanistan would be interested in developing a dialogue to have these three deported. Malik noted that these detainees currently were not pending in the courts, but the he would seek additional information on the matter. Atmar further advised that pursuant to discussions between Pakistan ISI and Afghan NDS, 38 Afghans were to be deported/repatriated in the near future, but these Afghans had not been sent back to Afghanistan.
8. (C) The two ministers agreed that, in regards to prisoners, the countries needed to draft an agreement to exchange prisoners. Malik agreed to provide a prisoner list to Atmar listing the 38 3. In regards to the Most Wanted Lists, the ministers agreed to share intelligence at the upcoming Focal Point meeting on the “Most Wanted.” Atmar invited the FBI to participate in these discussions and work with both countries on the efforts to locate the “Most Wanted” persons. Director Mueller accepted the invitation and pledged the FBI’s full support.
9. (C) Director Mueller strongly suggested that, as the two countries moved forward, the “prisoner” and “Most Wanted” lists should not be made public. He urged both Minister Atmar and Minister Malik to restrain from comments to the press (advice which was apparently ignored). The names on the lists could be key to sensitive investigations and making the names public might jeopardize investigations, the FBI Director explained.
Malik Denies GOP Agreement to Transfer Beradar
10. (C) Given all the confusing press reporting, Ambassador contacted Minster Rehman Malik in Dubai on February 26 to ask if there was anything conveyed to the Afghans about deporting Taliban, apart from the discussion in the trilateral meeting in which she, Ambassador Eikenberry and many others had participated. Malik firmly denied that there had been any agreement to extradite or deport Mullah Beradar or any of the other Taliban leaders.
11. (C) Malik claimed Atmar had jumped the gun to the press with his suggestion that some agreement had been reached. Malik said he had told the press that Pakistan would consider a request to deport Beradar and the others if they in fact received such a request. Malik said Pakistan had its “own procedures to follow” and they had to be “sure Beradar hadn’t committed any crimes in Pakistan.” Malik said he had talked to General Pasha (Ambassador pressed him on this point), and Malik claimed he would not have failed to “coordinate” with everyone in his government.
12. (C) Ambassador asked Interior Secretary (Deputy Minister), Qamar Zaman, the same question on February 26. He was fairly certain that the only exchange on this issue was the one conducted in the February 24 tripartite meeting. He speculated that Minister Atmar might have been under pressure from his local press to put a positive spin on the meeting.
13. (C) Comment: The tripartite meeting was a follow up to the earlier May 2009 meeting in Washington. It made progress on a number of fronts, which will be reported septel. But the issue of “wanted persons” dominated the press play after the meeting. Rehman Malik was at pains to convince us that no deal had been made with the Afghans.
14. (C) Comment Cont’d: As most of our readers know, the presence of Baloch separatists Bramdagh Bugti in Afghanistan has long been a neuralgic one with the GOP, particularly with the GOP military. Accordingly, post believes Øthat we should watch out for consideration of some type of exchange of Berader with Bugti. But we do not believe that the Pakistani
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government, especially those who control Berader’s fate--Kayani and Pasha--would willingly lose control of such a huge potential propaganda pawn in Beradar. While Bugti may be a core issue at some political level, the “truths” Berader could tell about ISI, not to mention a host of other Pakistani notables, likely outweigh any potential wins in bringing Bugti to Pakistani justice.
15. (C) Comment Cont’d: To state the obvious, the consistent press leaks in the media about American intelligence operations in the U.S. have lots of unexpected consequences. Most obviously, press leaks enabled the highly unpredictable and anti-American Lahore High Court to issue a judgment decrying the presence of U.S. intelligence agents in the Berader case. End Comment. PATTERSON