|06ISLAMABAD6420||2006-04-14 15:07:00||SECRET||Embassy Islamabad|
1. (S) Summary: President Musharraf reviewed with visiting
Senator Hagel his concerns over his relationship with the
U.S., citing the U.S.-India Civil-Nuclear Initiative and
perceived pressure for democratization. He also described
the threat of Talibanization in Pakistan's Tribal Areas. He
worried that the Civil Nuclear Initiative implicitly
recognized India as a nuclear state and could reignite an
arms race in South Asia. He urged that the U.S. support
construction of a new fully safeguarded nuclear power plant
for Pakistan, arguing that it would not give Pakistan any
technology or fuel it did already have and that he would much
rather get assistance from the U.S. than from other
countries; this would help correct perceptions that a rift
had developed between the two countries. Similarly,
Musharraf expressed concern about a growing perception that
there was a rift between him and the United States on
democratization. He was moving the country steadily toward
democracy, he said, but there was a perception that he was
doing this only because he had been put in a corner.
Musharraf reported that while the Al Qa'ida presence in the
Tribal Areas was declining, "Talibanization" was increasing
and spreading into neighboring districts of Pakistan. He
reviewed a four-part strategy of military, political,
administrative and development measures to counter the trend.
Musharraf stressed that success would depend on
complementary efforts on the Afghan side of the border and
complained that India was sowing distrust by spreading
misinformation in Afghanistan. End Summary.
2. (C) President Musharraf met with visiting Senator Chuck
Hagel on April 13, using the opportunity to convey his views
on the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear initiative, democracy and
Pakistani steps to address the threat of "Talibanization" in
the Tribal Areas. Senator Hagel opened the meeting by
stressing the importance of the U.S. relationship with
Pakistan and the need to work together in confronting mutual
challenges. The United States appreciated Pakistan's
efforts in the border area, he said, and understood that the
success of mutual efforts in the region rested on the
strength of the bilateral relationship.
3. (S) Musharraf reported that he had chaired a meeting of
Pakistan's National Command Authority (NCA) the previous day
and that perceptions of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear
initiative were not good. These negative perceptions
reflected widely held views in the society as a whole. "We
understand your geostrategic relationship with India," he
said, but in Pakistan the deal was "vastly unpopular" for two
reasons. First, it implicitly accepted India as a nuclear
state while excluding Pakistan, so Pakistanis felt "singled
out." Secondly, it would increase India's ability to
proliferate because India's weaponization efforts had been
constrained by a shortage of nuclear fuel, which would no
longer exist under the Initiative. This was the unanimous
perception of the members of the NCA. Pakistan would now be
grappling with the prospect of a nuclear arms race with India
because it would never allow its nuclear deterrent capability
to be compromised.
4. (S) Musharraf added that he also did not understand why
the United States could not let Pakistan have a 1000 MGW
civil nuclear reactor. Pakistan did not need more fuel for
the reactor, so it would not lead to proliferation.
Moreover, it would not involve any technology that Pakistan
did not already possess. Pakistan's nuclear capabilities
were already far more advanced than India's. Pakistan would
welcome any kind of safeguards regime over the plant,
Musharraf continued. Finally, Pakistan had very real energy
needs that would have to be addressed one way or another.
Currently, China was providing a reactor, and Pakistan would
need more. That was the reality and Pakistan would have to
move forward, whether with the United States or not.
5. (S) Musharraf stressed that he would far rather move
forward with the United States, but the Administration's
current posture precluded that. He cherished his friendship
with President Bush and he had said so both publicly and
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privately: "I say he is a friend. He is sincere and open.
These are things you appreciate. And we are together in
fighting terror." Unfortunately, the media created the
impression that a rift had developed in the wake of the
President's visit to Pakistan. This perception was a greater
concern than actual nuclear capabilities. "We know our
capabilities and our potential," Musharraf stressed, Pakistan
would get the reactor anyway. So the only result of the
current policy would be to deepen the perception that there
were problems between the two countries. Despite Pakistan's
willingness to submit to safeguards, everything would be
given to India and Pakistan was being singled out.
6. (C) In response, Senator Hagel indicated that while he
supported strengthening the U.S.-India relationship, he also
agreed that the United States had not given enough attention
to Pakistan. The U.S.-India relationship needed to be seen
in the context of wider U.S. relationships in the region. It
should not have the effect of intimidating or isolating
Pakistan or China or other countries in the region.
Bilateral initiatives should be framed in a regional context.
Hagel said he expected Congress would ultimately pass the
U.S.-India agreement, but many uncertainties remained. Hagel
added that Congress would probably want to assess the IAEA
protocol with India before passing the agreement.
7. (C) Musharraf worried that this perception of a rift
between the United States and him was reinforced "when people
come and overdo the issue of democracy." He acknowledged
that his being in uniform was undemocratic, but added, "we
have never had democracy in Pakistan." In contrast, he had
"empowered people, women, minorities and the grass roots."
He had freed the media and enabled the parliament to complete
its full tenure and hold a second election for the first time
in Pakistan's history. He was totally in favor of democracy,
and a great deal had been achieved, so people should be
careful about statements in the press.
8. (C) Musharraf cited an editorial that morning asserting
that recent USG comments on democracy were evidence that the
US was moving away from him. "Yes, I agree," he said, "we
should have democracy" but he also deserved credit for what
he had achieved in that direction. Pakistan would have "free
and fair elections," but there was a perception that he was
being forced into it. As in the case of broader U.S.
relations with the region, the idea was taking hold that
Pakistan was being singled out for pressure. India was being
treated differently -- "as a partner." Ever since the
President's visit, there was a growing perception that his
own personal standing had declined.
9. (S) Musharraf observed that in his view there had been a
significant change in the Tribal Areas. Pakistani forces
continued to go after Al Qa'ida elements "whenever we get
word." "We strike fast," he said, adding that there had been
a very successful strike the previous night. However, in his
assessment, Al Qa'ida was greatly weakened and the Taliban
was stepping into the vacuum. Now Talibanization was the
issue, and it was a phenomenon on both sides of the Afghan
border. It was characterized by "obscurantist views"
including sanctions for barbers who shaved men's beards, and
opposition to music and television. These Taliban elements
were spreading through the Tribal Areas and into outside
districts of Pakistan.
10. (C) Musharraf noted that one obstacle he faced was a
religious government in the NWFP that turned a blind eye to
Talibanization. Moreover, because the Chief Minister was
with the opposition MMA, he had to work through the governor.
He said he was "reasonably sure" the situation would be
remedied in the next election because the MMA would be "wiped
out." He was confident the government would ultimately
succeed in countering Talibanization because only a small
minority of the population shared the Taliban's extreme views
(albeit a dominant minority). Pakistan was addressing the
challenge of Talibanization with a four-pronged strategy, he
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-- First, it was continuing military actions against
terrorists and any Taliban clerics that were trying to run a
government within a government, for example by requiring men
to wear beards.
-- Second, on the political side, Pakistan was opening up the
Tribal Areas to "progressive political forces." Without
putting anything in writing, he had given tacit permission to
these political parties to "go in and do political work."
--Third, he was working to correct the "administrative
set-up." Currently the FATA Secretariat (which represents
the Tribal Areas and reports to the Chief Minister of the
Northwest Frontier Province) was "impotent." Moreover, the
seven Political Agents (one for each Agency), who were
supposed to be powerful and whose word used to be law, were
not effective. The government wanted to get the best people
for the job, whether out of the military or the bureaucracy,
and equip them effective security forces (tribal levies).
This would give Political Agents independent authority so
they would not have to fall back on the army or Frontier
Corps. Musharraf noted that one-time NWFP Chief Minister
Sahibzada Imtiaz Ahmad was preparing a study on how to
"reactivate" the Political Agents.
-- Fourth, efforts were already underway to end the physical
and economic isolation of the tribal areas by building
infrastructure (including roads and irrigation systems),
generating jobs and building schools. A "massive"
construction effort was in the works; Pakistan had asked for
$150 million per year in donor assistance, and would more
than match that amount out of its own resources. U.S.-backed
"Reconstruction Opportunity Zones" (ROZs) also had great
potential to create jobs and economic opportunity.
11. (S) Musharraf said he hoped there would be equal efforts
on the Afghan side of the border and complained that a
perception had been created that Pakistan's government and
its intelligence services were pursuing separate agendas. It
was a perception he found "most annoying" and one that the
Indian intelligence service was spreading in Afghanistan.
Musharraf said he had documentary evidence that India was
working through Afghanistan's Ministry of Defense and its
intelligence service to undermine Afghan perceptions of
Pakistan; he had shown the evidence to President Bush during
the President's visit to Pakistan. India was also providing
support and cash to "feudal tribals" who were making trouble
12. (U) Codel did not have an opportunity to clear this