Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08ISLAMABAD2305
2008-07-07 07:04:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

BOUCHER AND GILANI DISCUSS BORDER SECURITY AND

Tags:  PGOV PREL PTER ECON PK 
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ISLAMABAD 002305 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER ECON PK
SUBJECT: BOUCHER AND GILANI DISCUSS BORDER SECURITY AND
COMBATING MILITANTS

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 04 ISLAMABAD 002305

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER ECON PK
SUBJECT: BOUCHER AND GILANI DISCUSS BORDER SECURITY AND
COMBATING MILITANTS

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


1. (C) Summary: During a July 1 meeting, Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani told Assistant Secretary Boucher that his
government was serious about the need to confront militant
extremists, establish a foundation for sustainable
development and address Pakistan's growing economic crisis.
Gilani also noted that he was open to closer cooperation with
Afghanistan, as demonstrated by his visit there, but he felt
Afghanistan needed to do more on border security. Boucher
urged Gilani to do everything possible to maintain pressure
on militant groups in the border areas and encouraged
Gilani's efforts to promote greater cooperation with
Afghanistan. Boucher assured Gilani that the U.S. wants to
assist Pakistan in its security efforts and its struggle to
build a more sustainable economy. He reiterated U.S. support
for Pakistan's transition to democratic government and
welcomed Gilani's upcoming visit to the U.S. where he will
meet with President Bush on July 28. End summary.


2. (C) Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian
Affairs Richard Boucher, Ambassador Patterson and National
Security Council Senior Director for South and Central Asia
Mark Webber met July 1 with Prime Minister Gilani. Interior
Minister Rehman Malik and Mahmud Durrani, National Security
Advisor to the Prime Minister, also attended.


3. (C) PM Gilani said his recent meeting with President Bush
at Sharm-el-Sheikh had led to an "important and useful"
exchange on the bilateral relationship. NSC Director Webber
confirmed Gilani was scheduled to meet with President Bush
again on July 28 during Gilani's upcoming visit to the U.S.
and noted the President had also been pleased with their
previous meeting.

PAKISTAN'S THREE-PRONGED COUNTERTERRORISM STRATEGY


4. (C) Gilani noted his discussion with President Bush had
focused mainly on counterterrorism and the rise of extremism
in Pakistan. Gilani said he outlined the government's
three-pronged counterterrorism plan for the President. This
plan consisted of the following elements: 1) peace agreements

with tribal leaders; 2) increased development assistance; and
3) military force.

FIRST PRONG - AGREEMENTS WITH TRIBAL COMMUNITIES


5. (C) Regarding recent attempts to forge agreements with
tribal leaders in border areas, Gilani stressed that these
agreements were negotiated with tribal elders, not militant
leaders. It was vital, he continued, that the tribal
communities be incorporated into Pakistan's counterterrorism
strategy.

SECONG PRONG - DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE TO BORDER AREAS


6. (C) Gilani emphasized the importance of economic and
infrastructure development assistance in addressing the root
causes of extremism. These border areas were plagued with
illiteracy and poverty; education and healthcare facilities
were completely inadequate. There were almost no
opportunities for young men seeking a trade and almost no
infrastructure to support industry. Gilani said he knew the
U.S. was aware of this problem and had already offered
substantial assistance, but he stressed the need for greater
market access and reconstruction opportunity zones. Gilani
added that elected officials from the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas were "100 percent supportive" of the plans for
development.


7. (C) Gilani highlighted the importance of having the
support of local leadership in the border areas. He pointed
out that when the U.S. had pressured Pakistan to eradicate
poppy cultivation in the 1980s and 1990s, the introduction of
an alternative livelihoods program in the Northwest Frontier
Province had been critical to making Pakistan almost poppy
free.

THIRD PRONG - MILITARY FORCE


8. (C) Gilani stated that, when necessary, the government
would use force, but that this option should be "kept in the

ISLAMABAD 00002305 002 OF 004


background" as much as possible. Military force should be
held in reserve and deployed if the tribes did not live up to
the agreements. Gilani noted that these agreements meant
tribal leaders had given their "collective word" that their
communities would not shelter or support militants and that
they would not attack law enforcement or military personnel.
If they broke this agreement, said Gilani, "they will be
punished, and the law will take its course."

PUBLIC WELCOMES CRACKDOWN ON EXTREMISTS


9. (C) Gilani said that in recent days civilian law
enforcement agencies had already begun a crackdown on violent
extremists who attack barber shops or music stores. These
forces were also sending the message that strong action would
be taken against those threatening or kidnapping minorities.
Gilani claimed there had already been a positive public
response to this assertion of authority. He said people were
relieved to see the law enforcement agencies taking action.
"This is the first time ever we feel we have popular support"
for a governmental crackdown.

PRIORITIZING THE WAR ON TERROR


10. (C) Emphasizing that the coalition government was united
on the counterterrorism issue, Gilani noted that General
Kayani, Chief of Army Staff, recently gave a presentation on
the security situation and his strategy to the civilian
leadership. Gilani noted that during this briefing, Pakistan
People's Party leader Asif Zardari sat to one side of him,
while Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim
League-Nawaz sat to the other side.


11. (C) Boucher assured Gilani the U.S. wanted to work with
Pakistan in its counterinsurgency efforts and urged Pakistan
to maintain the pressure on militant groups. Boucher
observed that recent internal political turmoil had
distracted Pakistan's leadership from focusing on the
security and economic crises; he recognized the government
faced serious political challenges but national security must
be the top priority. Gilani agreed, saying Pakistan was
fighting this war with conviction and acknowledged that
continuing instability also threatened Pakistan's economic
well-being by discouraging foreign investment.


12. (C) Gilani thanked the U.S. for providing reimbursements
under Coalition Support Funds and for its support on F-16s,
but complained that Pakistan did not have the sophisticated
equipment necessary to strike back at militants effectively.
If Pakistan hit a target, instead of the U.S., it was "much
easier for people to swallow." Therefore, Gilani asked if
credible intelligence on potential targets could be passed to
Pakistan for action. It would, he said, enhance the
credibility of both governments with the Pakistani public.

AFGHANISTAN: PAKISTAN SEEKING CLOSER RELATIONSHIP


13. (C) Gilani asserted he was interested in improved
relations with Afghanistan and noted that he, the Foreign
Minister and Interior Minister had all met with President
Karzai to convey that message. He also mentioned the wheat
that Pakistan had sent Afghanistan to assist with food
shortages, though he noted smuggling of wheat continued.
Gilani said his government saw a stable and prosperous
Afghanistan as key to Pakistan's own stability and
prosperity. He was working on organizing the smaller jirgas
agreed upon with Afghanistan; he had already approved an
attendee list.

CONTINUING PLIGHT OF AFGHAN REFUGEES


14. (C) Gilani noted the difficult situation of the three
million Afghan refugees who reside in Pakistan. They would
not return to Afghanistan until there were jobs and schools
for them across the border. Gilani said that he was
considering hosting a conference in Islamabad to focus
international donor assistance on this problem. A tripartite
(Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UN) effort needed to be made
to facilitate refugee returns.

PAK-AFGHAN SECURITY COOPERATION


ISLAMABAD 00002305 003 OF 004



15. (C) He then brought up an oft raised point regarding
border security: that Pakistan had 900 posts along the
Pak-Afghan border while Afghanistan had only about 100. He
described Pakistan's efforts to introduce a biometric system
at border crossings, indicating that Afghanistan was unable
to maintain the equipment on its side. Gilani said Pakistan
was considering a border "fence" to deter illicit
cross-border movements. He commented that many of the
combatants moving across the border were "legacies of the
past," referring to foreign fighters who had joined
Afghanistan's fight against the Soviet Union.


16. (C) In combating cross-border activity, Gilani stressed
the need for intelligence sharing. Boucher pointed out that
Pakistan's participation in Border Coordination Centers would
help address that need, but Gilani said Pakistan forces
needed satellite imagery to locate and target militants.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik interjected that $50 million
assistance from the U.S. for the Frontier Corps was not
enough; the forces needed more equipment, training and
intelligence sharing. Boucher agreed that Frontier Corps
training should be a shared focus, but Malik protested that
training was a long-term process when short-term solutions
were needed. Gilani added that Pakistan's forces could do
more if they were better equipped; he claimed that if
Pakistan could stop militant activities in the border areas
"80 percent of terrorism in the world would be reduced."

GILANI REJECTS AFGHAN ACCUSATIONS: "OUR INTERESTS ARE MUTUAL"


17. (C) Regarding recent anti-Pakistan statements from Karzai
and his officials, Gilani denied they had any basis and said
he had told Karzai to reach out directly to him at any time.
Karzai had invited Gilani to a joint sitting of Afghanistan's
parliament, but Gilani noted that Afghanistan needed to
demonstrate tangible trust and not assume Pakistan was behind
every bad act. "Our interests are mutual," declared Gilani.


18. (C) Boucher said Afghanistan had a strong interest in
moving forward on the jirga process, to encourage greater
people-to-people engagement at tribal and governmental
levels. Gilani agreed that Afghanistan and Pakistan needed
to cooperate on combating militants, otherwise the militants
were only displaced by their respective forces. Gilani said,
"we need to throw them (the militants) somewhere they are not
leaving."

TRIBAL AREAS AND COUNTERINSURGENCY


19. (C) Boucher asked about political reform in the tribal
areas. Gilani said the government was committed to
mainstreaming the tribal systems and reforming the Frontier
Crimes Regulations. There should be, he said, no more public
hangings or executions. The people should have greater civil
rights, including the right of assembly. Ultimately, Gilani
foresaw merging the Federally Administered Tribal Areas into
the frontier province, but very gradually. Referring to the
losses taken by Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, and
local policemen, Gilani said Pakistan was not in an economic
position to provide compensation for their families given
that virtually every man killed was the bread winner for an
extended family. Gilani said this fact had a significant
impact on how poor communities viewed the war on terror.

FOOD AID AND ENERGY SECTOR DEVELOPMENT


20. (C) Boucher agreed on the need for sustainable
development and, regarding the food crisis, said the U.S. was
actively seeking to identify sources for food aid. Gilani
charged the previous administration with exacerbating the
food crisis by selling too much wheat and then being forced
to purchase it back to address the shortages. Gilani said
the government had "lost millions of dollars" this way,
calling it "criminal negligence."


21. (C) Regarding the energy crisis, Boucher acknowledged it
would take a long time to develop energy supplies and that
the U.S. wanted to help Pakistan organize the private sector
to assist with this. Gilani welcomed the assistance and
recognized the need for investors. The energy problems and
inadequate infrastructure were causing serious damage to
Pakistan's industries and further discouraging foreign

ISLAMABAD 00002305 004 OF 004


investment. Boucher agreed and said the U.S. would continue
to seek ways to assist; he hoped the U.S. would be able to
follow through on something similar to the "Biden Plan," but
added that translating the proposal into the U.S. budget
could be very difficult.

GILANI PROMOTES HEALTH CARE AGENDA


22. (C) Gilani said that he was launching a program to
establish basic healthcare clinics throughout the country and
expanding the number of female doctors so that women would be
more likely to come in for treatment. Gilani added that he
was going to personally focus on the problem of hepatitis in
Pakistan and lead a campaign to heighten awareness and ensure
treatment was widely available.

JUDICIARY ISSUE


23. (C) Gilani admitted the government's failure to reinstate
the judiciary was criticized by the public. Asked about the
Long March, he said the government had handled it well. The
activists in the Long March had wanted the government to
confront them; instead, he said, "we brought them water and
snacks." Boucher offered his appreciation of the
government's flexibility in considering various options to
resolve the judiciary issue. Gilani said the Pakistan
People's Party wanted to find a balanced solution, but, given
Nawaz Sharif's inflexible stance and public opinion favoring
the lawyers movement, he admitted his party felt caught
"between the devil and the blue sea" on this issue.


24. (U) Assistant Secretary Boucher has cleared this cable.

PATTERSON