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Viewing cable 09ISLAMABAD24, ZARDARI COMMENTS ON INDIA/NAWAZ SHARIF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ISLAMABAD24 2009-01-05 13:01 2010-11-30 21:09 SECRET Embassy Islamabad
P 051311Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0935
INFO AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 
AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 
AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 
CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
FBI WASHDC PRIORITY
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
S E C R E T ISLAMABAD 000024 

EO 12958 DECL: 01/05/2034 
TAGS PREL, PTER, PGOV, PK 
SUBJECT: ZARDARI COMMENTS ON INDIA/NAWAZ SHARIF 

Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S) Summary: President Zardari told the Ambassador January 2 he would have no choice but to respond militarily to an Indian attack. There was no more politically sensitive issue in Pakistan than Kashmir, he said. Zardari had been briefed by ISI Director General, LTG Pasha, on his meeting with the DCIA in Washington, and he had concurred in the release of the “tearline” information to be passed to the Indians. Zardari also discussed his increasing frustration with Nawaz Sharif’s government in the Punjab, whom he believed had tipped off Jamaat ul-Dawa (JUD) about the assets freeze ordered by the federal government. Zardari discussed his concern about relations with India and his conviction that he (and Chief of Army Staff General Kayani) represented the best hope for better relations with India. Zardari needs additional resources for the police, particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), and he was looking forward to his upcoming trip to Afghanistan. End summary.

2. (S) Ambassador called on President Zardari January 2 to discuss follow-up to the Mumbai investigation. Zardari said he had been briefed by Lt. General Pasha on his meeting with DCIA, and he had approved the release of “tearline” information to the Indians. He wanted to emphasize he (and General Kayani) were fully committed to better relations with India. He reminded the Ambassador that it had only taken a “phone call” from the U.S. to ensure that Pakistan did not oppose the U.S./India civil nuclear deal at the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Zardari emphasized he had no problem making decisions, recalling that we had asked him to refuse the release of detainees in the context of “peace deals” when the Army and ISI were pressing to do so. But he said there was no way that he could let India attack Pakistan: many in the West did not understand the importance of Kashmir in Pakistani public opinion.

3. (C) Zardari indicated clearly that he was disinclined to repeal with 17th amendment (which gives the President the power to appoint the service chiefs, judges, and the Election Commissioner.) He justified this on the grounds that the initiative had to come from parliament. (Nawaz Sharif lately has been pressing Zardari to fulfill his electoral commitment to repeal this amendment, which codified Musharraf’s Legal Framework Order.)

4. (S) Zardari said that he was increasingly losing patience with Nawaz Sharif’s government in the Punjab, and he believed that a confrontation was looming. He said that Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz Chief Minister Shabbaz Sharif had tipped off the JUD about the UNSCR 1267 mandated asset freeze, resulting in almost empty bank accounts. (Information from MOI does indicate that bank accounts contained surprisingly small amounts.) Zardari suggested Lahore Principal Officer might mediate between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Governor and Shabbaz Sharif who increasingly are publicly at odds. Ambassador noted that his government had been “holding over Nawaz’s head” the Supreme Court’s decision on Nawaz’s eligibility to run for office. Zardari replied, “yes, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much good anymore.” Zardari dismissed Nawaz’s ability to bring crowds into the street in the Punjab if his party was removed from the Punjab government.

5. (S) Ambassador and Zardari discussed U.S. assistance issues, particularly in regard to upcoming visits of A/S Boucher and CODEL Reed. As usual, Zardari asked for additional support, particularly to fund additional police in FATA and NWFP, which could hold territory after the army and the Frontier Corps moved out. He said that he needed 100,000 police in each province. (There are now 48,000 police in NWFP.) And he needed equipment quickly. He said that he was going to ask us to reprogram some of our funding, since “without security, none of the other programs matter.”

6. (S) Zardari confirmed again at the end of the conversation that Pakistan would not allow non-state actors to dictate state policy, but that the GOP would respond if the Indians attacked. He recommended a report done in India which indicated that Indian Muslims are treated poorly and are among the least prosperous members of society. He said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment. Morever, there were plenty of extremist groups in India that could have assisted Lashkar-e-Taiba.

7. (C) Ambassador asked about Swat. He said flatly they did not have the troops to hold it. Ambassador asked the status of Asfandyar Wali Khan, the head of Awami National Party, who was ostensibly in charge of the NWFP government. Zardari just rolled his eyes.

8. (S) Zardari said his trip to Afghanistan had been rescheduled for January 7. He laughed about the rumors that civilian military struggles in Pakistan had prompted the delay. In truth, he said, he did not like to fly in bad weather, and he was worried about security. Ambassador had asked Interior Minister Rehman Malik several times about the status of Brahamdagh Bugti who is in exile in Afghanistan. (Readers will recall that the status of Mr. Bugti was a major bilateral irritant between Afghanistan and the Musharraf government, since Musharraf wanted Bugti “deported” to Pakistan by Karzai to “face justice” for participation in separatist activities.) Zardari said he was going to ask Karzai to keep him in Afghanistan: Bugti was now involved in conflicts for supremacy in his tribe. Zardari said that government was drafting legislation to give the Balochis more autonomy and political control.
PATTERSON