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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07ISLAMABAD4819
2007-11-12 10:18:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

MUSHARRAF'S PRESS CONFERENCE

Tags:   PGOV  PK  PREL  AEMR  AMGT  CASC  KFLO  PINR 
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DE RUEHIL #4819/01 3161018
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 121018Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3136
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 7749
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 6685
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2201
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 7989
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 4016
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 2541
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3230
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 004819 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2017
TAGS: PGOV PK PREL AEMR AMGT CASC KFLO PINR
SUBJECT: MUSHARRAF'S PRESS CONFERENCE

REF: A. ISLAMABAD 4728

B. ISLAMABAD 4818

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 004819

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2017
TAGS: PGOV PK PREL AEMR AMGT CASC KFLO PINR
SUBJECT: MUSHARRAF'S PRESS CONFERENCE

REF: A. ISLAMABAD 4728

B. ISLAMABAD 4818

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


1. (C) Summary: Meeting with local and international press
November 11, President Musharraf announced elections would be
held "by January 9" and said he would take the presidential
oath of office as a civilian after the Supreme Court allows
the Election Commission to confirm his re-election. He
declined to set a date for lifting the state of emergency,
but indicated it would continue through the elections. This
prompted a skeptical response from international media. End
summary.


2. (C) A clearly defensive President Musharraf on November 11
addressed the local and international press corps. He
immediately announced: (1) Pakistan's National Assembly will
complete for the first time in Pakistan's history its full
five year term on November 15; (2) the Provincial Assemblies
will be dissolved on November 20; and (3) this would allow
parliamentary elections before January 9, 2008. Musharraf
said that the election should come before the Islamic holiday
of Moharram, but that he would leave the setting of the
election day to Pakistan's Election Commission (ECP).


3. (U) Musharraf also announced that he would take the
presidential oath of office "as a civilian" as soon as the
Supreme Court allows the ECP to confirm the results of his
October 6 re-election. In response to a Fox News question on
how long the state of emergency will last, Musharraf said he
"could not give a date." He indicated that elections would
be held under the state of emergency.


4. (C) Repeating much of what he said to the diplomatic corps
on November 5 (Ref A), Musharraf presented his case against
(former) Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. He

said the Court "demoralized law enforcement and encouraged
terrorists," and argued that the country had moved into a
state of paralysis that necessitated imposing a state of
emergency. He admitted that it was "a drastic measure," but
one required "to save democracy." He confirmed that the
(former) Chief Justice and his court would not be reinstated.


5. (U) Turning to media freedom, Musharraf proclaimed: "I
gave independence to the media." He claimed that new
restrictions on content were based on other countries' codes
of conduct for the press and that only a few channels
remained off. He would not allow "defamation by design."
Responding to a question about the three Telegraph reporters
expelled November 11, he said the newspaper's editorial had
used "unacceptable words."


6. (U) In responding to questions, he repeatedly committed to
elections, but was equally adamant that those politicians and
activists who disturbed law and order would be, or would
continue to be, detained. He welcomed international
observers on election day. Musharraf deliberately gave no
positive signal that he would reach any political
understanding with Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader
Benazir Bhutto before the elections. He noted that the
parties would all compete in fair elections and that the
election results would determine the make up of the future
government. He stressed that it was not about personality
but about political parties and how well they do. He
observed that an election result in favor of Bhutto's party
is by no means a foregone conclusion.


7. (U) Musharraf repeatedly linked the spread of terrorism to
the need for imposing a state of emergency. He said he did
not believe foreign aid to combat terrorism would be cut off
because "unnamed" countries' leaders, with whom he had
spoken, "understand this problem" in Pakistan. Musharraf
believed that the emergency powers would help, not hinder,
the war on terror. Furthermore, the November 10 amendment to
the Army Act was to allow military courts to hear cases
against those "missing," who were arrested under Pakistan's
anti-terrorism laws. He denied that the amendment would
allow any civilian to be charged in a military court.


8. (U) Musharraf ended the press conference responding to a

ISLAMABAD 00004819 002 OF 002


local reporter's prompting for a stronger reaction to
"western interference." Musharraf answered: "We do not need
anyone's dictation or advice. We in Pakistan operate as per
our own will." Emergency was imposed, Musharraf insisted,
despite the expectation of western disapproval.

9 (C) Comment: Musharraf's rather unnerving performance did
not display his usual poised, confident demeanor. He was
flanked by key cabinet and political advisors, most of whom
appeared uncomfortable and embarrassed by Musharraf's
harangue against the (former) Chief Justice. His delivery
was forced and marked by emotion. It was a far cry from the
self-confident, calm and even humorous head of state who a
year ago successfully appeared on "The Daily Show." While
the news on an elections date is positive, it is almost
impossible to envision how elections can be held under a
state of emergency which suspends all political rights. End
comment.
PATTERSON