Viewing cable 07ISLAMABAD528, PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF MEETS SPEAKER PELOSI AND 110TH
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|07ISLAMABAD528||2007-01-31 12:12||2010-11-30 21:09||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Islamabad|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 ISLAMABAD 000528 SIPDIS SIPDIS EO 12958 DECL: 01/29/2017 TAGS AF, IN, MOPS, PK, PREL, PTER, XF SUBJECT: PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF MEETS SPEAKER PELOSI AND 110TH CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, Reasons 1.4 (b) and(d) ¶1. (C) Summary: In a January 27 meeting lasting more than an hour-and-a-half,
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Committee/
Sub-Committee Chairs of the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Appropriations Committees called on Pakistani President Musharraf. The Speaker noted that this was her first foreign travel in her new position, underscoring the importance the Congress places on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Acknowledging that this was an important visit, the President offered to describe Pakistan’s strategies to defeat terrorism and extremism and to clarify U.S. misperceptions about Pakistan’s commitment. ¶2. (C) At the CODEL’s request, the President reviewed his recent visit to Middle Eastern capitals, where he promoted his vision of enlightened moderation for the Muslim world; he also counseled Syrian President Assad to abandon his confrontational approach and reconcile with the international community. Musharraf offered a detailed analysis of the security situation along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and his strategy to win the support of local tribes through economic and social development, while eliminating al Qaeda and Taliban leadership cells through security operations. Musharraf told the CODEL that critics who suggest that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies are playing a double game in Afghanistan are wrong, saying that such criticism only emboldens our common enemies. The President specifically requested Congressional support for Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs)and U.S. support for his FATA economic initiative of USD 150 million per year, noting Pakistan’s own heavy commitment of national funds toward economic development in the border areas; he also reviewed his government’s programs to increase spending on education and health care, as envisioned in the U.S.-Pakistan Shared Objectives. Musharraf cast a hard gaze on narcotrafficking in the region, while highlighting Pakistan’s anticipated achievement of “poppy free” status in 2007. He was optimistic regarding the prospects for improved relations with India. Finally, Musharraf told the Speaker that provisions of H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) concerning Pakistan weaken his position vis-a-vis extremists fighting for Muslim hearts-and-minds in the long war on terror; the Speaker was non-committal in response. End summary. ¶3. (U) Meeting Participants: U.S. ---- Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House Rep. Ike Skelton, Chair - House Armed Services Committee Rep. Tom Lantos, Chair - House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Chair - House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Rep. John Murtha, Chair - Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee Rep. Nita Lowey, Chair - State and Foreign Operations Sub-Committee Rep. David Hobson, Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee Mr. Michael Sheehy, National Security Advisor to Speaker Pelosi Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker Mr. John Gastright, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Pakistan -------- President Pervez Musharraf ISLAMABAD 00000528 002 OF 006 LTG Hamid Javaid, Chief of Staff BG Shafqat Ahmad, Military Secretary Outreach to Middle East: Empower Moderates in Muslim World --------------------------------------------- ------------- ¶4. (C) When the Speaker asked about Musharraf’s January 20-25 visit to
Middle Eastern capitals (Riyadh, Cairo, Amman, Damascus and Abu Dhabi),
Musharraf initiated a description of a Muslim World beset by tension.
An incipient Iraqi civil war along sectarian lines, sectarian strife in
Lebanon, the Shi’a dimension in the U.S.-Iran conflict and, at the core,
the unresolved Palestinian question have led the President to believe the
time is ripe for a new Muslim voice of moderation. In his talks with his
Arab interlocutors, Musharraf laid out his goals: promoting sectarian harmony,
organizing joint action against terrorist organizations and building
partnerships with Europe and the U.S. The next step is to engage the major
non-Arab Muslim states -- Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey. (Note: Musharraf
is visiting Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur this week. End note.) He will then
seek to develop a statement of common principals; if this succeeds, Saudi
King Abdullah has pledged to host an event to launch the initiative.
“I am trying to lead on this issue,” Musharraf said, admitting that he
cannot say whether his efforts will succeed. ¶5. (C) While in Damascus, Musharraf said that he had a “frank exchange”
with Syrian President Bashar Assad, telling the Syrian President that his
policies are contributing to instability in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.
“Are you for confrontation or not?” Musharraf demanded, noting that Syria
now has few friends left. Bashar responded by saying that he wants to
reconcile with the international community and work to solve problems.
Musharraf pointed to the need for peace between Hamas and Israel,
obtaining Bashar’s word that Syria would not obstruct communications
between the two. Musharraf offered to help Bashar regain standing in the
international community, if Syria is serious about a new direction.
Representative Hobson asked whether the U.S. should take a different
approach with Bashar. Musharraf advised the U.S. to engage Bashar; he
also believes that moderate Muslims could influence the Syrian. He observed
that Bashar displayed a sense of being overlooked by the international
community: for example, Bashar told Musharraf that the entire world
supports the Palestinians, but has forgotten the Israeli occupation of
the Golan Heights. Musharraf wondered whether observers credit Bashar
with wielding more power than he actually has, speculating that other forces
may be at work. Musharraf perceived Bashar as facing problems similar
to those along the PAK-AFG border, quoting Bashar as saying that more
than 1 million tribal refugees have flowed into Syria from Iraq.
(Note: On hearing this, Musharraf offered Bashar some friendly advice:
“Look into fencing.” End note.) Straight Talk on Pak-Afghan Border Security ------------------------------------------- ¶6. (C) Responding to Chairman Skelton’s desire to hear the President’s
perspective on efforts to secure the Pak-Afghan border, Musharraf decried
the “tremendous misunderstandings and misperceptions” that have led U.S.
critics to accuse Pakistan’s intelligence agencies of collusion with the
Taliban, al Qaeda and other extremists. Musharraf frankly acknowledged
that remnants of al Qaeda remain hidden in the mountainous border region.
Pakistan is now also focused on the Pashtun tribes who live on both sides
of the PAK-AFG border. Of the seven tribal agencies in Pakistan’s
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), populations in North and
South Waziristan openly cooperate with Taliban insurgents. Al Qaeda
elements are concentrated in Bajaur. The other four agencies, Musharraf
contended, are relatively peaceful, although the Taliban has made an effort
to infiltrate Kurram, where it has encountered local resistance.
In contrast, Musharraf continued, Pashtuns residing in Balochistan are
generally peaceful; the trouble ther are Afghan Taliban commanders and
foot soldiers who have found safe haven in lawless refugee camps, from
which they can operate with impunity. ¶7. (C) Speaker Pelosi asked the President whether he knew the whereabouts
of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Musharraf replied that Mullah Omar and
the Taliban movement emerged from Kandahar, where he presumably remains.
“I do not believe Omar has ever been to Pakistan,” Musharraf said,
contrasting this to al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Ladin and Dr. Ayman
al-Zawahiri, who may be ensconced in the mountains along the Frontier.
Musharraf proceeded to describe Pakistani efforts to locate and apprehend
other al Qaeda leaders and Taliban commanders, including Afghans Mullah
Dadullah Lang and Jalaluddin Haqqani and Pakistani Baitullah Mehsud;
leaders, Musharraf said, come and go from Pakistan, where they recruit
and motivate militants. ¶8. (C) What is required to defeat the Taliban? Musharraf answered his
own rhetorical question, saying that in Afghanistan, the Coalition must
deploy military and political resources, while Pakistan controls movement
across the PAK-AFG border. The President painted a vivid picture of the
on-the-ground challenges: there is no easy way to identify Taliban
fighters amongst the 30,000 people who cross the Chaman border crossing
in Balochistan daily, only one of 23 crossing points along the province’s
2300 km border with Afghanistan. Even with 954 border posts, the government
has not been able to control dozens of informal crossing points in
Balochistan and the FATA. The strategy must therefore penetrate deeply
the border regions, focusing on (a) eliminating safe havens, including
refugee camps; (b) launching military action against the militants’
command-and-control targets, and (c) winning the loyalty of local tribes
through economic growth, social development and political reform. ¶9. (C) Arguing that military operations alone will alienate the tribes,
Musharraf segued into an overview of the FATA Sustainable Development
Plan and a description of the traditional leadership roles of maliks
(who represent tribal authority) and political agents (who represent
federal and provincial authorities). To ensure that political agents
and maliks have the necessary muscle to reinforce their authority to
impose law and order, the government is bolstering the numbers and
capacity of tribal levies, the Frontier Constabulary and the Frontier
Corps. As the Speaker described Chairwoman Lowey’s leadership of the
Foreign Operations Appropriations Sub-Committee, the President expressed
appreciation for her support for Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs),
and appealed for USD 150 million/year for five years for FATA development
to supplement the national funds already budgeted. ¶10. (C) Political engagement is crucial, Musharraf said, shifting to a
discussion of the September 2006 jirga accord in North Waziristan.
“This agreement is much maligned,” Musharraf admitted, but it was critical
for the government to reach out to local tribal and religious leaders.
Re-establishing the writ of the government is imperative, but the
authorities must work with the local tribes to make this a reality.
The greatest failure, Musharraf continued, has been controlling cross-border
movement and expelling foreign fighters from the agency; the government
is now pushing the tribes hard to live up to their side of the bargain.
If they do not, the President said, we will take military action.
“When we locate a target, we will hit it,” Musahrraf promised, noting
that Pakistani forces had done just that ten days earlier. Candidly
assessing the agreement as only 25 percent successful so far, Musharraf
was adamant that the jirga agreement is/is the only way forward.
He said he believes that the North West Frontier Province (NWFP)
Governor should pursue a similar accord with tribes in South Waziristan. ¶11. (C) Shifting back to preventing unlawful border crossings,
Musharraf addressed the possibility of selective deployment of fences
and/or land mines along the border. “Mining has problems,” Musharraf
acknowledged, but said he wants to proceed with fencing. Military experts
have estimated that some 32 km in FATA and 295 km in Balochistan would
be appropriate for fences. When Chairman Reyes noted the controversy
generated by proposals to fence the U.S.-Mexican border, Musharraf
nodded in agreement, then cited Pakistan’s long experience with fences
and mines along its eastern border with India. ¶12. (C) Expanding his comments to include Pakistani plans to close
lawless Afghan refugee camps, Musharraf asserted that “nobody wants to
assist us in this task.” Frustrated that “all the ideas I put forward for
controlling the border” are opposed by both the international community
and the government in Kabul, Musharraf said that he welcomes other ideas.
“Either help me control the border or help me move the refugees out,” he said. Defending Pakistan’s Commitment ------------------------------- ¶13. (C) Musharraf told the CODEL that the government is committed to
fighting terrorism, as Pakistanis do not want to see their country succumb
to creeping Talibanization. Musharraf detailed the heavy losses sustained
by Pakistan’s security forces, as well as the multiple assassination attempts against the country’s political leadership, “We are not a banana republic and the ISI is not a rogue agency,” Musharraf said, explaining that he could retire any active-duty general officer with a swipe of his pen: “ISI is a disciplined service staffed by seasoned military officers who follow my orders.” ¶14. (C) Later in the conversation, the President expressed concern about H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act). Musharraf said that language in the bill questioning Pakistan’s reliability as an ally of the U.S. directly damages his ability to wage war on our common enemies (“This weakens me!”) and to inoculate his country against the infection of Islamic extremism. Shared Objectives and Enlightened Moderation -------------------------------------------- ¶15. (C) Chairwoman Lowey asked the President to explain why Pakistan
has not met mutually-agreed targets for budgetary support for education
set forth in the bilateral Shared Objectives. Musharraf defended his
record, saying that since he assumed power, he has embraced human resource
development as essential for sustained growth. He opted for an inital
focus on economic development to generate revenue for health and education,
and this is happening. Education spending is increasing from 2.6 to 4
percent of GDP under his leadership. Chairman Murtha raised the subject
of madrassas, to which the President responded that the appeal of a madrassa
education will decline as the public education system improves. Musharraf
also highlighted the government’s record in improving health care delivery,
particularly maternal-pediatric services. ¶16. (C) Speaker Pelosi raised the specter of suicide bombings, seeking the
President’s advice on persuading all societies that such attacks are
unacceptable. Musharraf agreed, terming suicide attacks as un-Islamic. All
countries must find a way to deal with extremism,” the President said,
“but such terrorism must be addressed by force.” He then outlined his
multi-point strategy for combating extremism and promoting “enlightened
moderation”: -- Prevent the misuse of mosques -- Prohibit speech that incites the public
to violence -- Ban extremist organizations and their leadership (a delicate
business, the President admitted, as the government must not/not be seen
as anti-religion) -- Revise the national curriculum -- Reform madrassa
education, introducing a standard curriculum that includes secular subjects
(math, language, science, etc.) A Poppy-Free Pakistan --------------------- ¶17. (C) Chairman Murtha also complimented Pakistan’s achievements in
fighting the drug trade, asking the President to explain Pakistan’s success
in contrast with the record poppy harvest in Afghanistan. Musharraf
responded: “There is no effective government control in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan was able to implement a coordinated strategy of eradication and
destruction, complemented by programs to offer alternative livelihoods.
The poppy leads only to narco-fueled financial flows supporting the
insurgency. Musharraf suggested that the international community provide
funds to buy the Afghan poppy crop directly from the farmers. Earthquake Relief ----------------- ¶18. (C) Chairman Lantos asked the President whether Pakistan needs the
U.S. to do more to support relief/reconstruction efforts in the areas
devastated by the October 2005 earthquake. Musharraf assured the Chairman
that Pakistan is managing the reconstruction process well, noting that
prompt intervention had prevented the predicted post- disaster plagues
of epidemics, famine and exposure. Now well into the reconstruction phase,
the government has allocated USD 3000 to 500,000 families, whose use of
the funds to rebuild their homes also injects capital to the recovering
local economy. The government has built many temporary schools and
university buildings, many of which are better facilities than those
which were destroyed. Indo-Pak Relations ------------------ ¶19. (C) Chairman Lantos asked about the state of Pakistan’s relations
with India. Musharraf was upbeat in his response, saying that he has his
fingers crossed. The two countries have made progress with
confidence-building measures and have successfully maintained a
cease-fire along the Line-of-Control in Kashmir, but the process had
stalled on conflict resolution. Now, Musharraf indicated, he and Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh are on the verge of an agreement...”Soon --
sooner than anyone might think.” Musharraf appreciated Singh’s flexibility,
relating Singh’s personal invitation for the President to attend the
SAARC Ministerial in New Delhi in April. Musharraf explained his decision
to decline the invitation, saying that there is too much euphoria and
expectation at present. “If I went to Delhi, but we didn’t sign an
agreement, the people would think we had failed,” he said. Musharraf
said that he has conveyed two options to New Delhi: either PM Singh
comes to Pakistan before April to sign an agreement or the two hold a
signing ceremony at the SAARC Ministerial. Musharraf shared his
enthusiasm for the just-concluded visit to Pakistan by three Jammmu
and Kashmir leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, noting tha
t he had advised them to egage and bring on board other Kashmiris.
“An agreement should not land like a bombshell,” said Musharraf.
Leaders must prepare their publics, as he is doing in Pakistan. Iraq’s Shadow over the Region ----------------------------- ¶20. (C) Speaker Pelosi described the current situation in Iraq as
the most important foreign policy issue confronting the U.S., citing
the terrible loss of life and the consequences for America’s global
reputation. President Musharraf opined that dividing Iraq would be
disastrous, citing Turkish opposition to an independent Kurdistan.
He believes that Iran is abetting the growing Sunni-Shi’a schism.
Referring back to his initiative to build a movement of moderate
Muslim voices, Musharraf said this must be done by partners who have
credibility in the region, something that the U.S. does not currently
enjoy. If a consensus could be endorsed by Sunnis, Shi’as and Kurds,
Musharraf mused, perhaps an all-Muslim security force could backfill
following the withdrawal of U.S. and British forces. ¶21. (U) The CODEL did not have an opportunity to clear this cable.