wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08ISLAMABAD422
2008-01-29 13:51:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

CRIMINAL PLANNING BEHIND POST-ASSASSINATION

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PTER  PK 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3963
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #0422/01 0291351
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291351Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4715
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 8099
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 7141
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2720
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 8774
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 4688
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 3364
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHWSMRC/USCINCCENT 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 000422 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PK
SUBJECT: CRIMINAL PLANNING BEHIND POST-ASSASSINATION
KARACHI RIOTS

REF: ISLAMABAD 228

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



1. (C) Summary. During a visit to Karachi January 25-26,
Ambassador heard a consistent message about the violence that
wracked the city for three days after Benazir Bhutto's
assassination. According to our contacts, while there were
grief-stricken mobs, much of the damage was carefully planned
and clinically executed, presumably by criminal gangs.
Although it is unclear how many Pakistan People's Party
members have been charged with crimes related to these riots,
the arrests do appear politically motivated. End Summary.



2. (C) From several diverse sources, Ambassador heard a
similar analysis of the riots that swept Karachi and Sindh in
the three days following Benazir Bhutto's assassination. The
violence claimed approximately 40 lives, created $2 billion
in damages and lost revenue and left thousands jobless. But,
according to the American Business Council, Mayor Mustafa
Kamal, Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leader Farouq Sattar
(and separately Minister of Finance Salman Shah), most of the
violence was not the work of uncoordinated, grief-stricken
mobs.



3. (C) According to these sources, the damage was done in a
calculated fashion that revealed careful criminal planning,
and the loss of life was minimal. Kamal said 1,120 vehicles
were burned in Karachi, but many had their CNG gas tanks
removed before they were torched. The American Business
Council members described how vandals had looted finished
products and removed expensive brass fittings before
factories were burned. The demonstrators had carried with
them sulfur powder to set machinery ablaze. Shah described
how computer cables had been carefully cut and mother boards
removed before computers were destroyed.



4. (C) Kamal and Sattar suggested that the Pakhtun
community might be partly responsible for the violence.
Karachi has the second largest Pakhtun population (2 million)
after Peshawar, and it includes criminal gangs with
established links to drug and gun smuggling from the
northwest. Kamal noted that the Pakhtuns control the auto
rickshaw union in Karachi, and not a single rickshaw was
torched during the violence. The Business Council was
reluctant to accuse any particular group but noted there was
no violence in MQM-controlled areas of the city. The
Pakistan People's Party (PPP) continues to argue that its
members are being unfairly targeted with arrests related to
the violence. Businessman Farooq Hassan probably best
described the causes as a combination of criminal and
mob-related
attacks.



5. (C) As for timing, Kamal and Sattar speculated that the
violence had been planned for the original election date of
January 8, but perpetrators had acted on the opportunity
presented by Bhutto's assassination. Hassan agreed that was
a probable scenario.



6. (C) Interlocutors told the Ambassador that the Karachi
city services (police, firefighters) were slow to respond to
the violence because of fear of attacks and concern about
creating further trouble. In at least one instance, a fire
truck en route to a blaze was itself set on fire. The
national government reaction was slow, and it was several
days before Rangers were given shoot to kill orders that
finally ended the violence. MQM representatives said that
they made a deliberate decision not to engage the
demonstrators, as that would have sparked a stronger
counter-reaction that would have claimed even more lives.
Surprisingly, the Business Council independently made the
same assessment. The Council, in particular, was urging the
local government to begin emergency planning now for
anticipated violence after the February 18 elections and
hoped the Army would be deployed to prevent further trouble.



7. (C) The Council raised its law and order concerns in a
January 18 meeting with the Prime Minister (septel), and
plans to do the same with the Governor of Sindh later this
week. They want to avoid any violence around the February 18
elections. The Karachi Chamber of the Commerce, the nation's

ISLAMABAD 00000422 002 OF 002


largest, also expressed its conviction that the violence was
planned in advance, and has approved local authorities for
enhanced security for industrial sites during the upcoming
elections.



8. (C) Comment: The number and level of PPP workers being
charged over post-assassination violence remains unclear.
Interestingly, none of our interlocutors suggested that PPP
party members were responsible for the damages, which may
lend credence to the allegation that the arrests were
politically motivated. It is unlikely that the
investigations now underway will produce much real evidence
to settle the question of who was ultimately responsible for
the riots in Karachi, but we hope the local and provincial
governments are preparing for the possibility of another
round of violence on or after February 18.







PATTERSON