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Viewing cable 09ISLAMABAD289, ZARDARI’S PLANNED APPROACH TO HOLBROOKE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ISLAMABAD289 2009-02-09 14:02 2010-11-30 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Islamabad
VZCZCXRO6381
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #0289/01 0401456
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091456Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1403
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 9798
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9628
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 4422
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 1036
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 6733
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 5657
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHWSMRC/USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
Monday, 09 February 2009, 14:56
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 000289 
SIPDIS 
EO 12958 DECL: 02/09/2019 
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PTER, PK 
SUBJECT: ZARDARI’S PLANNED APPROACH TO HOLBROOKE 
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (C) Summary. During a February 8 meeting with the Ambassador, President Zardari outlined Pakistan’s need for additional assistance, a message that would figure prominently in his meeting with Special Representative Holbrooke. Zardari outlined the steps he would follow to restrict A.Q. Khan (septel) and reported that the Supreme Court would likely declare Nawaz Sharif ineligible to run for the National Assembly. Zardari believes the international community is not adequately supporting Pakistan’s internally displaced persons and police programs in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Zardari reiterated again that he and Chief of Army Staff General Kayani get along well, although he said he was very realistic about the power of the army “given our history.” Again, Zardari said that he supported stronger ties with India. He also continues to have serious concerns about his personal security. End summary
2. (C) Ambassador called on President Zardari on February 8 to discuss the upcoming visit of Special Representative Holbrooke. Zardari said he would raise with Ambassador Holbrooke Pakistan’s commitment to fighting insurgency, which he expected to get much worse when the GOP really engaged the militants. He would also discuss the need for trade access (Reconstruction Opportunity Zone legislation) for Pakistani products and economic assistance. Zardari said he would not dwell on assistance issues, although he was considering some formulations in which he would invest his own funds for development projects in FATA and NWFP. He realized the United States could not easily provide aid given the current economic climate. Still, as the conversation progressed, Zardari was very worried about the lack of international support for the internally displaced persons and for the police/law enforcement in NWFP and FATA. Zardari said several times that the Special Representative’s visit provided an opportunity to “reset the agenda” with the United States.
3. (C) Zardari told the Ambassador “not to worry” about his relations with Prime Minister Gilani. Ambassador said she was not worried, but she believed that the Embassy (and many others) had not been paying enough attention to the PM, and we were going to try to rectify that. The PM was lashing out because everyone saw him playing second fiddle to the President. However, as a longstanding political leader and Sufi saint, he served a valuable role in the Pakistan People’s Party.
4. (C) Zardari said he had excellent relations with Afghan President Karzai, but was under no illusions about his forthrightness. Zardari said that he was going to work with Karzai, and he did not see any better options in Afghanistan.
5. (C) Zardari was clearer than in previous meetings about his intention to move against Nawaz Sharif and predicted the Supreme Court would declare Nawaz ineligible to run for the National Assembly. Zardari claimed Nawaz had planned to run A.Q. Khan on a Pakistan Muslim League-N slate, so it was better to confront Nawaz sooner rather than later. Zardari said he had been ready to make a deal with Shahbaz Sharif that would provide for a constitutional amendment to increase the retirement age for the justices - presumably bringing back the former chief justice as a justice -- but Shahbaz had been uncooperative. Zardari said he was convinced that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani would never support Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister.
6. (C) Zardari said he was struggling over who would be named Chairman of the Senate after the Senate elections, now scheduled for March 4. Zardari said the best candidate would be law minister Farouk Naek, but Ambassador asked who would then be Law Minister. “That’s the problem,” said Zardari, “we don’t have enough good people.” He said that Information Minister Sherry Rehman “was dying for the job,” but the conservative religious party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, which would still have thirty votes in the Senate, would never vote for a woman as Senate President. Zardari said he was probably going to pick someone from NWFP or FATA so he would have regional balance.
ISLAMABAD 00000289 002 OF 002
7. (C) Zardari said he was going to replace NWFP Governor Ghani soon. He had not done so to date, as picking a replacement brought with it multiple political problems. He suggested Frontier Corps Inspector Major General Tariq Khan. Ambassador tried to discourage that idea, indicating that Khan was desperately needed in the ongoing fight. Zardari was also considering various names for National Security Advisor, including former Ambassador to the UK and the U.S., Maleeha Lodi (“the party doesn’t trust her”) and retired COAS and Ambassador to the U.S. Jehangir Karamat (“probably too old and, as a former COAS, Kayani would always have to defer to him.”)
8. (C) Ambassador saw Zardari at Bilawal House in Karachi. Zardari’s father is in poor health and Zardari was reluctant to leave Karachi. The conversation turned to security in the neighborhood and his personal security. Zardari said his vulnerability was one reason it was important to select a competent President of the Senate. (If the president dies or resigns, the President of the Senate would step in as President until the indirect election for President could be held.) Zardari revealed that, if he was assassinated, he had instructed his son Bilawal to name his sister, Faryal Talpur, as President.
9. (C) Bio Note: Embassy officers have been very impressed with Talpur, who is extremely energetic and well respected. Kayani once told the Ambassador that she would be a better president than her brother.) Zardari described his sister as “tough and committed.” Her nineteen year old son had committed suicide and her husband, Zardari said, had never really recovered from his son’s death. They also had a daughter who had also been emotionally damaged by her brother’s death. The Talpurs had then adopted a child from the Afghan refugee camp, but passed the now six-year old off as their own since it was considered “un-Islamic” to adopt in some circles. PATTERSON