|08ISLAMABAD146||2008-01-10 09:27:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Islamabad|
1. (C) Summary. Pakistan People's Party candidate for
Prime Minister Amin Faheem told Senator Lieberman January 9
that the party was concerned about election fraud and related
arrests of party workers in Sindh. Faheem said that he would
follow Benazir Bhutto's moderate political agenda, and noted
she had envisioned the possibility of a post-election
coalition with Musharraf's party. Her assassination changed
the political landscape, but if the campaign remained fair,
Faheem indicated this coalition was still possible.
Musharraf was a good and liberal man, and Faheem had no
personal animosity toward Musharraf's party leaders. But
election fraud could destabilize the country, and Faheem
urged the USG to support free and fair elections as scheduled
on February 18. End Summary.
2. (U) Senator Joseph Lieberman and Ambassador met January
9 with Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Vice Chairman Amin
Faheem and PPP Senator Enver Baig. Polcouns attended as
3. (C) Senator Lieberman opened the meeting by expressing
his condolences for the death of Benazir Bhutto and noted
that she had called upon him in Washington; he said she was a
great and inspirational patriot who will be missed.
Lieberman expressed U.S. concern over the events in Pakistan
over the last year, and said he had relayed those concerns to
President Musharraf earlier in the day (septel).
U.S.-Pakistan relation were historically strong, but this
friendship is based primarily on people-to-people ties. We
will work with the elected government, of course, but the
foundation of our relationship is with the people of
4. (C) Faheem and Baig stressed their concern about
possible electoral fraud and urged the USG to intervene and
prevent the Pakistan government from taking actions that
would jeopardize stability in the country. Fahim said they
PPP had reluctantly accepted a delay in elections, although
it appeared the decision to postpone was more politically
than logistically motivated. Now, it was critical that there
be no further delays. Lieberman said he had received
Musharraf's assurances that February 18 was a firm date.
5. (C) Faheem described his concern about ongoing arrests
of up to a thousand PPP workers in Sindh province on charges
they were involved in the post-assassination violence that
claimed over 40 lives and left billions of rupees in damages.
Faheem said the government should arrest the looters and
other criminals, but these were not political party workers.
He voiced concern that pro-government mayors would use the
excuse of the violence to arrest PPP poll and party workers
and prevent them from working on turnout or election
6. (C) Lieberman noted that he had told both Musharraf and
PM Soomro that the USG wanted fair and credible elections and
assured Faheem that we would continue to press for these
goals. Without credible elections, there will be pressure in
Washington to curtail the relationship and that is not in the
interest of either nation. Therefore, it was important that
the GOP both refrain from election misconduct and prevent
others from engaging in it.
7. (C) Faheem said that Musharraf was a good man, a liberal
man, with whom he and Benazir Bhutto had worked in the past.
Faheem intended to follow Bhutto's wishes and plans. She had
been in negotiations with Musharraf, and this was a good
combination that had been supported by the USG. Personally,
Faheem said he had no problem working with the Chaudhry
Shujaat Hussain of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), and
Shujaat had no problem working with him; their fathers had
served together in the Western Pakistan Assembly. Pervaiz
Elahi had recently called Faheem to apologize for a PML
campaign ad that had inflamed PPP supporters. Bhutto had
envisioned working with a PML coalition that included the PPP
and other Pashtun and regional parties.
8. (C) Bhutto's assassination, Fahim cautioned, changed the
political landscape. The public is expressing enormous
sympathy with the PPP over her death, and the party needs to
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move carefully. PPP and the PML should not "utter a word
against each other" that would poison the post-election
environment. The campaign must continue but it should be
political, not personal. This will leave coalition building
possibilities open after the election.
9. (C) Lieberman noted that al Qaeda had clearly turned
more aggressively on Pakistan, and we had a shared concern
about protecting our peoples. If there were another attack
on the U.S. and it emanated from Pakistani territory, this
would override any other political concerns. Faheem said
that fighting terrorism was the number one item in his agenda.
10. (U) Codel Lieberman did not clear this message.