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08ISLAMABAD1401 2008-04-01 15:18:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Islamabad
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1. (C) Summary: PM Gillani in his first week is already
demonstrating what Pakistanis describe as "our tendency to
jump into the river first and figure out how deep it is
afterwards." Faced with immediate opposition, Gillani has
had to backtrack on pronouncements that the Frontier Crimes
Regulation (FCR) governing the tribal areas would be
abolished and the "black" media laws restricting press
activities would continue. In what appears to be a growing
trend, the government quickly referred these issues -- and
the matter of restoring the deposed judiciary -- to
committees or ministries for further consideration. The
Pakistan People's Party (PPP) already has had to contend with
an obstinate coalition partner -- Pakistan Muslim
League-Nawaz (PML-N) -- whose nine ministers refused to
recognize President Pervez Musharraf at yesterday's
swearing-in ceremony. End Summary.

PML-N Pouts


2. (U) Though the nine PML-N ministers agreed, under last
month's Murree Declaration, to be sworn in by President
Pervez Musharraf, they used the March 31 swearing-in event to
make some explicit political points. All nine wore black
armbands in protest against Musharraf, who they maintain
holds his office illegally. They also refused to stand when
Musharraf entered the room, shake his hand, or stay for the
subsequent luncheon hosted in their honor. PML-N Spokesman
Siddiqui Farooq stated to the press after the event that the
PML-N snubbed Musharraf "in protest because an
unconstitutional president was sitting up there and our
ministers had to take oath under him."

Committee on the Judiciary


3. (C) Yesterday's swearing-in was followed by the new GOP's
first cabinet meeting. Minister of Information and
Broadcasting Sherry Rehman announced afterward that a joint
committee of all coalition parties would be formed to submit
recommendations on how best to restore the judiciary deposed
by Musharraf. Leading the ad hoc committee would be new Law
Minister Farooq Naek (of the PPP); however, there was no
announcement as to which other representatives from the
parties would form the committee. There was no deadline set
for the committee's work, another sign the PPP plans a slow
resolution of the issue.

Jumping In and Back Pedaling


4. (U) The new cabinet also decided late yesterday to form a
second ad hoc committee to review the abolition of the
Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), the law that governs the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (See Peshawar
septel). The creation of this committee was in response to
Gillani's surprise March 29 announcement that the FCR would
be immediately abolished. The announcement -- part of
Gillani's "First 100 Days" speech following the National
Assembly's vote of confidence -- failed to mention what law,
if any, would replace the FCR, drawing wide criticism in the
press and by the public.

5. (C) Gillani also announced March 29 that Musharraf's
November 3 amendments to Pakistan's media regulations,
enforced by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory
Authority (PEMRA), would remain in place. PPP Co-Chairman
Asif Zardari then reversed his PM, announcing off the cuff
that all these amendments would be repealed. In yesterday's
cabinet meeting, however, they decided that the Information
Ministry would prepare draft proposals regarding which
provisions would be repealed or how the regulations would be
further amended. Speaking to PolOff March 31, PEMRA Chairman
Mushtaq Malik revealed that the new GOP was also considering
placing PEMRA under the Information Ministry, which had
jurisdiction over PEMRA until the last days of the caretaker
government, when PEMRA was moved under the Prime Minister's

ISLAMABAD 00001401 002 OF 002

6. (C) Comment: The new PPP-led GOP, in its first 100 hours,
has already made some missteps, unilaterally and unexpectedly
announcing the abolition of some key federal laws and
regulations. These missteps are to be expected from a party
that has been outside government for eleven years. The first
cabinet meeting appropriately patched up the new PM's gaffes.
More worrisome, however, is the PML-N's uncompromising and
provocative stance concerning anything having to do with
Musharraf. The PPP's coalition "partner" appears bent on
making governing as difficult as possible. End comment.