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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08ISLAMABAD1
2008-01-01 11:45:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

MGPK02: SITREP 7: CALM RETURNS; CONFUSION OVER

Tags:   PGOV  PK  PREL  AEMR  AMGT  ASEC  CASC  KFLO  MARR 
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VZCZCXRO2733
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #0001/01 0011145
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011145Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4139
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 7976
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 6979
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2573
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 8536
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 4478
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 3113
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 000001 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2017
TAGS: PGOV PK PREL AEMR AMGT ASEC CASC KFLO MARR
PINR
SUBJECT: MGPK02: SITREP 7: CALM RETURNS; CONFUSION OVER
ELECTION DATE, INVESTIGATION CONTINUES

REF: ISLAMABAD 5392

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



1. (C) Summary: Calm returned across Pakistan on New Year's
Day. The Election Commission met and decided to consult with
the political parties January 2 before making a final
decision to postpone the elections. Various political parties
have differing view on whether to delay. Bhutto widower
Zardari told Ambassador he was opposed to a delay. The GOP
also seems to be in a state of protracted confusion about the
date of elections and the status of the investigation of
Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Ambassador has counseled the
government on the need to speak with one voice. All Embassy
and consulate operations are normal. End Summary.

Elections Date


--------------------------





2. (C) The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) met to
review the various reports filed from ECP offices in the
provinces with respect to their ability to conduct elections
on January 8. The ECP decided to consult first with the
political parties on January 2, after which the ECP will make
a final decision on a date for elections. Ambassador called
the Election Commissioner to express our view that the ECP
decide on a firm date as soon as possible; the Commissioner
argued for a date in mid-February.



3. (C) The political parties themselves are gaming out
their advantages if a delay occurs. Pakistan People's Party
(PPP) Co-chairman Asif Zardari adamantly told Ambassador
January 1 that the PPP wants elections on time. We are not
sure what is happening within the PPP, but Zardari has
already told us that the PPP's candidate for PM, Amin Faheem,
"does not represent me." The PPP will hold a Central
Executive Committee meeting in Larkana January 2 on the
subject of an election date. The Pakistan Muslim League-N
(N) of Nawaz Sharif supports on time elections, but will
follow the lead of the PPP and, privately, told us they could
accept a delay through the 40 day mourning period for Bhutto.
The Pakistan Muslim League (PML) which initially had
supported a delay now says it is prepared to go forward with
elections on time. NSA Tariq Aziz told Ambassador January 1
that the GOP was leaning towards January 29 as the date for
elections; later in the day, he said February 11 was a likely
date.



4. (C) IFES, which is embedded in the ECP as a consultant,
does not believe the ECP can hold elections on time for
logistical reasons stemming from the post-assassination
violence, especially in Sindh province. IFES predicts the
ECP will be forced to delay for 2-3 weeks.

Investigation


--------------------------





5. (SBU) The Sunday press is full of conflicting stories
about the investigation into Benazir Bhutto's assassination.
At a press conference December 31, the Caretaker Interior
Minister "apologized" for the "blunder" made by MOI Brigadier
Cheema when he said that Bhutto had died because her head hit
the lever of her bullet-proof land cruiser.



6. (C) Tariq Aziz told Ambassador that ISI Director Nadeem
Taj would be briefing Zardari January 2 on the status of the
investigation. There is still no official GOP announcement
that it will accept an independent investigation. Caretaker
PM Soomro has left open the possibility of accepting
assistance, and the MFA is quoted as saying the GOP would
"not shy away from receiving assistance, if needed." The UK
High Commission advised post that Scotland Yard has already
begun preliminary work in London but has not yet been asked
officially to assist. The media report that the PPP has
formed a committee to draft a resolution to be sent to the UN
demanding that an expert commission be established to
investigate Bhutto's assassination. Taking full advantage of
all the international speculation and publicity surrounding
Bhutto's death, the Tehreek-i-Taliban (of Baitullah Mehsud)
incredulously told BBC that it, too, was demanding an
independent investigation.

ISLAMABAD 00000001 002 OF 002





7. (U) Meanwhile, a four member police team began the
formal on-site investigation. The Punjab Provincial
government announced it is offering a reward of five million
rupees (approximately $833,000) reward for anyone with
information about Bhutto's assassination.

Protests


--------------------------





8. (U) Although mourners continue to throng the site of
Bhutto's mausoleum, post-assassination violence has faded
across the country.



9. (U) Eleven people were killed in Parachinar, the site of
ten days of Sunni-Shia sectarian and tribal clashes which
have left a reported 300 people dead and another 650 injured.

Coalition Fuel Supplies


--------------------------





10. (U) Fuel trucks supplying U.S. forces in Afghanistan
have slowly begun moving again as roads have cleared and
become more secure. Several trucks crossed the border
yesterday, and many more are en route.

PATTERSON