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08ISLAMABAD3594 2008-11-15 05:18:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

MOD MUKHTAR MEETS GENERAL PETRAEUS

Tags:   PREL PTER PGOV PK 
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1. (C) Summary. During a November 3 meeting with CENTCOM
Commander General Petraeus, Minister of Defense Mukhtar
expressed concern about the political difficulties that
ongoing U.S. strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (FATA) were creating for the Pakistani government. He
requested additional U.S. economic support in the upcoming
four to six critical months for the government. Petraeus
agreed to consider Pakistani concerns about strikes and urged
the GOP to take the lead in preparing the Pakistani public
for a much-needed IMF program. End Summary.



2. (C) Minister of Defense Chaudry Ahmed Mukhtar met
November 3 with Ambassador and CENTCOM Commander General
David Petraeus. Also attending were State Assistant
Secretary for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher, Office
of Defense Representative Pakistan Rear Admiral LeFever,
CENTCOM J-3 MG Jones, CENTCOM POLAD Gfoeller, CENTCOM Colonel
Bell, Polcouns (notetaker), and MOD Secretary Rasool.



3. (C) Mukhtar expressed appreciation that Petraeus had
chosen Pakistan as his first overseas stop after assuming
command of CENTCOM. He said that the fight against extremism
was clearly Pakistan's own war, not solely America's war.
The GOP had improved relations with Afghanistan and believed
that stability across the border was critical to stability in
Pakistan. Mukhtar observed that more Pakistanis had died in
the fight against extremism than coalition servicemembers in
Afghanistan. For Pakistan to "do more," the government
needed popular support.



4. (C) Unfortunately, said Mukhtar, U.S. attacks in the
FATA were being played in the media in a way that was making
the situation difficult for the government. Pakistan's
parliament had met in a joint session and produced a
consensus resolution against extremism. This was an
important step forward, but the government had to show it
could implement the resolution's provisions (Note: which
included defending Pakistan's sovereignty). Rasool noted
that even the Pashtun-based Awami National Party and the
tribal area parliamentarians had supported passage of the
resolution. It was important to make U.S. strikes more
carefully targeted and timed in order to avoid negative
consequences.



5. (C) Petraeus said he would keep Pakistani concerns in
mind; in the past, the U.S. felt it had to conduct certain
operations unilaterally. But we would prefer that Pakistan
conduct the entire anti-extremist campaign itself. He had
just met with Chief of Army Staff General Kayani (septel) and
had been reassured by Kayani's briefing that Pakistan had a
campaign plan for addressing the militants and miscreants in
the FATA.



6. (C) Mukhtar, who until 3 November 2008 was also Minister
of Commerce, asked for U.S. economic support over what he
described as the next four to six crucial months. The GOP
had cut subsidies and done 90% of what the IMF wanted
Pakistan to do, but an IMF package would be difficult for the
population to swallow. He appreciated U.S. support in
establishing a Friends of Pakistan group, but urged
additional U.S. support.



7. (C) Petraeus suggested that the GOP needed to "lead the
way" rhetorically in convincing its own public to support an
IMF package. This would make it easier to create popular
acceptance of the difficult decisions ahead. As it was being
played by the GOP now, it made it look like the GOP was only
capitulating to IMF intervention at the eleventh hour; this
in turn had the downside of also discouraging additional
bilateral support from potential International donors.
Rasool observed that 25% of the poorest Pakistanis who live
without any safety net would suffer from an IMF package.
Mukhtar said that Pakistan needs only short-term help to
avoid consequences of inflation, including possible food
riots. A/S Boucher noted that the U.S. was providing support
through traditional USAID programs and we looked forward to
building support structures for additional assistance through
the Friends group. Mukhtar responded that creating jobs was
critical; legislation to establish
Reconstruction Opportunity Zones was stuck in the U.S.
Congress. Boucher said we hoped that the legislation would

ISLAMABAD 00003594 002 OF 002


pass during an upcoming lame duck session.



8. (C) Rasool also raised the need for night vision
equipment and attack helicopters to enhance the COIN
capabilities of Pakistan's security forces. Petraeus noted
that night vision goggles could enhance performance but their
reliance on batteries represented an expensive logistical
burden, and they were not a panacea. Rasool and Mukhtar also
urged that the U.S. provide assistance to persons displaced
by the current fighting in Bajaur.
PATTERSON