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09ISLAMABAD1988 2009-08-20 09:48:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

PAKISTAN MEDIA REACTION: AUGUST 20, 2009

Tags:   KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK 
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UNCLAS ISLAMABAD 001988

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK
SUBJECT: PAKISTAN MEDIA REACTION: AUGUST 20, 2009

Summary: Reports and photographs of U.S. Special Envoy Holbrooke's
Karachi visit, his announcement that a "team of U.S. energy experts
would arrive in Pakistan on Thursday (today)" and that "there was no
quick solution for a crisis that has taken years to develop"
received front-page coverage. His remarks that the "U.S. would
start issuing business visas from Karachi" were also highlighted.
Undersecretary Judith McHale's statement that the expansion of U.S.
Embassy in Islamabad "reflected Washington's added focus on its
relations with Pakistan" received prominent display. Several
newspapers reported that the "U.S. CENTCOM General Petraeus called
on Pakistan Army Chief Kayani and discussed latest military
equipment for Pakistan." Some major dailies highlighted reports
that the "nervous Afghans prepared to elect a president today as
attacks go up."

In its editorial on the capture of TTP's spokesman Maulvi Umar, the
Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily "Dawn,"
termed it "another blow for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan." Toeing
the line, the populist, often sensational national English daily
"The News" noted that "evidence is indeed already emerging that the
Taliban have been quite badly damaged." Likewise, the liberal Urdu
daily "Express," observed that the "successful security forces
operation in Malakand Division has hit the morale of the extremists
and it seems that this gang of killers is about to meet its fate."
End Summary.



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


News Stories


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



"U.S. Energy Experts Due Today: Holbrooke" "Dawn" (08/20)

"President Barack Obama's envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard
Holbrooke announced on Wednesday that a team of U.S. experts would
arrive in Pakistan on Thursday to help address its energy crisis.
Mr. Holbrooke said the steps were being taken to strengthen
bilateral ties and facilitate Pakistan's access to international
markets, especially the U.S. He said the measure would be a major
step in strengthening relations between the city of Karachi, the
business community and the people of Pakistan and the U.S."

"No quick Fix For Pak Energy Crisis, Says Holbrooke" "The News,"
"Jang" (08/20)

"President Barack Obama's envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan
promised on Wednesday help for Pakistan's beleaguered power sector
but said there was no quick solution for a crisis that has taken
years to develop. 'The United States is committed to assisting
Pakistan to move beyond its current energy crisis and we are
vigorously pursuing ways to expand our engagement,' Richard
Holbrooke told a news conference in Karachi."

"No Magic Solution To Energy Crisis" "The Nation" (08/20)

"The United States is committed to assisting Pakistan to move beyond
its current energy crisis and we are vigorously pursuing ways to
expand our engagement, Richard Holbrooke told a news conference in
Karachi. But let me emphasize that the U.S. does not have a magic
solution for Pakistan's energy problems. They have been at least 25
years in the making, they were predicted by international economists
and experts, and they will not be solved easily."

"U.S. To Issue Visas From Karachi, Says Holbrooke" "Business
Recorder" (08/20)

"Announcing a 'major turn' in its relations with Pakistan, President
Obama-led U.S. government on Wednesday announced to start issuing
100 business visas per week to the business community (in Karachi)
... the economic and commercial hub of your great nation and a
three-pronged strategy to help Islamabad resolve the 'complex
problem' of energy shortage, said Richard Holbrooke, while
addressing a press conference in Karachi."

"Holbrooke Meets Sindh Governor Ebad, MQM Delegation" "The News"
(08/20)

"The visiting U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan,
Richard Holbrooke on Wednesday held a meeting with Sindh Governor
Dr. Ishratul Ebad Khan at Governor House, Karachi and said that U.S.
would specially focus on power sector in Karachi."

"LG System Must Stay: Holbrooke" "Daily Times" (08/20)

"The local government system should continue because it is necessary
to promote strong, democratic institutions, U.S. special envoy for
Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said on Wednesday."

"Holbrooke Lauds Pak Army Success In Malakand; Talk To Geo News"
"The News" (08/20)

"U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard
Holbrooke, has commended the Pakistani troops for achievements in
Malakand, and said that he never accused Inter Services Intelligence
(ISI) of helping Taliban. In an interview with the Geo News
Holbrooke said he was impressed with the resolution of the Swat
crisis and return of the IDPs to their areas."

"Pakistanis Mustn't Notice Marines Deployment: U.S." "The News"
(08/20)

"The U.S. has said that it is working on a number of initiatives in
the Congress to build a robust economic base for Pakistan and the
U.S. Embassy expansion in Pakistan reflects our added focus of our
relations with Pakistan, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy
Affairs Judith McHale said in an exclusive interview with state-run
radio."

"U.S. Clarifies Report About Marines' Strength In Embassy" "Dawn"
(08/20)

"The U.S. State Department document that has provided details of the
amount that is to be spent on the expansion of the American Embassy
in the Pakistani capital does not mention anything regarding the
strength of the Marine guards that will be part of the additional
staff. In response to a report published in 'Dawn' on Wednesday, a
spokesman for the U.S. Embassy pointed out that the reference to the
construction of a residential compound for 1,000 Marines is
incorrect and there is no mention of Marines' strength in the State
Department document. Talking to a group of journalists earlier this
week U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson had said that after
the facility's expansion about 18 to 20 Marines would be posted
there."

"PPP Leader Raza Rabbani Moves Senate Against Expansion In U.S.
Embassy" "Express" (08/20)

"Chairman Parliamentary Committee for National Security and Pakistan
People's Party (PPP) leader, Mian Raza Rabbani, on Wednesday
submitted a Call Attention Notice in the Senate Secretariat
demanding the House to discuss the issue of expansion in the U.S.
Embassy. 'According to the recurring media reports, the U.S. is
expanding its Embassy in Islamabad' reads the notice."

"Petraeus, Kayani Discuss Latest Equipment For Pakistan Army" "The
News" (08/20)

"Chief of United States Central Command (CENTCOM) David Petraeus
called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at
General Headquarters on Wednesday. The U.S. General assured the
Army Chief that latest and sophisticated military equipment would be
provided to Pakistan, sources told Online."

"Petraeus, Kayani Discuss Waziristan" "Daily Times" (08/20)

"A day after it was reported that a full-scale offensive in South
Waziristan may take several months, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)
Chief Gen. David Petraeus and Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani
discussed preparations to take on Taliban in the rugged region. The
CENTCOM Chief called on the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General
Ashfaq to discuss the prevailing security situation and the war on
terror. Sources said the Petraeus and Kayani discussed the
security situation along the Pak-Afghan border."

"Nervous Afghans Vote Today" "The Nation" (08/20)

"Nervous Afghans prepared to elect a president today, reeling from a
surge in Taliban attacks as the government lashed out, threatening
to expel foreign journalists who report violence on polling day."

"Fears Of Large-Scale Poll Fraud In Afghanistan" "Dawn" (08/20)

"Voter registration cards are for sale by the handful on the streets
of Afghan cities and villages. Somebody even registered U.S. pop
star Britney Spears to vote in Thursday's presidential election -
copies of her card were widely emailed and, for a while, pinned up
in a Kabul hotel bar. One Afghan man in a village not far from
Kabul had a sackful of cards buried by a stream at the back of his
house, for sale to anyone who asked - but he'd prefer if they were
used to vote for President Hamid Karzai. The question is not
whether fraud will be perpetrated in Thursday's election, already
described as imperfect by the United Nations and many western
observers, but whether it will be of sufficient magnitude to
influence the outcome of the vote."

"Maulvi Faqeer Claims Taking Over TTP Leadership" "Dawn" (08/20)

"Taliban commander Maulvi Faqeer Mohammad from Bajaur has claimed
taking up the position of Baitullah Mehsud temporarily, the BBC
reported. He has also announced the appointment of Muslim Khan as
the Tehrik-i-Taliban's Chief spokesperson."

"Suspected Al Qaeda Man Found Dead In Peshawar" "Dawn" (08/20)

"The body of a suspected Al Qaeda leader was found in a house in
Peshawar on Wednesday. According to officials, the body with
multiple wounds was of Abdullah Noori, son of Abdul Qadir, an
Algerian believed to be Osama bin Laden's top aide."

"Soldier Among Four Killed In Bajaur" "The News" (08/20)

"Unidentified armed men shot dead three persons, including a soldier
of the Bajaur Levies, in Shago area while security forces killed a
militant and arrested four others in different areas in the Khar
subdivision of Bajaur Agency on Wednesday, tribal sources said."

"Three Blasts Hurt 13 In Balochistan" "Dawn" (08/20)

"Three explosions injured 13 people, including two Frontier Corps
personnel and two policemen, in Balochistan on Wednesday when
miscreants hurled a bomb at their vehicle on Hospital Road in
Khuzdar and escaped. In Quetta, three people were injured when a
bomb attached to a motorcycle went off in the Chaki Shahwani area.
Two policemen were injured when a hand grenade was hurled at their
check-post in the premises of Balochistan University."

"PM Rules Out Musharraf's Treason Trial" "Dawn" (08/20)

"Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday ruled out his
government would seek a trial of former military President Pervez
Musharraf for high treason, declining - at the risk of a political
fallout."

"U.S. Officials Question Pakistani Journalist" "Dawn" (08/20)

"U.S. immigration officials have questioned a Pakistani journalist
to determine whether he could apply for asylum in the United States.
Immigration officials questioned Rahman Bunairee for about 20
minutes on Tuesday and decided to hold another hearing before
announcing their determination. To qualify for asylum, Mr. Bunairee
has to demonstrate that he has a 'credible fear' of being tortured
or persecuted if he returns to Pakistan. If he does, it's likely
that he'll be released and allowed to apply for asylum."

"Baghdad Bombings Claim 95 Lives" "The News" (08/20)

"A wave of attacks across Baghdad killed at least 95 people on
Wednesday in the worst day of carnage to hit the Iraqi capital in 18
months and the bloodiest since U.S. troops pulled out of the
conflict-torn nation's cities.



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


Editorials/Op-eds


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



"Maulvi Umar," an editorial in the Karachi-based center-left
independent national English daily "Dawn" (cir. 55,000) (08/20)

"The capture of Maulvi Umar, a success hot on the heels of the
killing of Baitullah Mehsud, is another blow for the
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.... Indeed, the main question has yet to
be answered: does the state have a coherent, workable plan for
regaining some semblance of control over FATA and eliminating the
safe havens of militants there? Complicating that question is the
fact that it is not clear yet if the security forces are in the
process of mopping up in Malakand division or whether they are
hunkering down for a guerrilla war in the months ahead. If the
security forces get bogged down in Swat, it is debatable whether
they will seriously consider tackling the vastly bigger mess that is
FATA. So while Maulvi Umar's capture is a boon, it raises more
questions than it answers."

"Taming The Taliban," an editorial in the populist, often
sensational national English daily "The News" (cir. 55,000) (08/20)

"The possibility that it may actually prove possible to rein in the
Taliban is growing. The capture of Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the
group and a close aide of Baitullah Mehsud raises hopes in this
respect.... Evidence is indeed already emerging that the Taliban
have been quite badly damaged. However, there is still a great deal
more that needs to be done.... In some of the seminaries and other
training institutions based not only in tribal areas but also in our
major cities, attempts continue to produce just such militants....
The task for the military and the civilian set up is now to continue
their joint effort and implement plans aimed at altering the nature
of life in places that the Taliban had seized, so that, in the
future, they cannot make a comeback initiating a new orgy of
violence."

"Arrest Of Maulvi Umar: Possibility Of Extremists End Increases," an
editorial in liberal Urdu daily "Express" (cir. 25,000) (08/20)

"The arrest of banned TTP spokesperson Maulvi Umar is an important
success of the security forces.... The successful security forces
operation in Malakand Division has hit the morale of the extremists
and it seems that this gang of killers is about to meet its fate."

"A Big Blow," an editorial in the center-right national English
daily "The Nation" (cir. 20,000) (08/20)

"The arrest of Maulvi Muhammad Omar, a senior leader of the Tehrik
Taliban Pakistan and its spokesman, from Mohmand Agency, and other
deaths and arrests, indicate that the military operation is
weakening the TTP top hierarchy as well as the rank and file....
While top commanders like Baitullah Mehsud, as Omar confirms, have
been killed, others are on the run. Their capacity to strike at
will and spill the blood of innocent people has now been seriously
compromised.... This is a good opportunity to dismantle the TTP's
network. The army ought to cash in on the changed situation and
with the intelligence available from the captured militants act
quickly."

"Maulvi Umar's Arrest, Confirmation Of Baitullah's Death" an
editorial in the center-right Urdu daily "Pakistan" (cir. 10,000)
(08/20)

"Maulvi Umar's arrest will be a difficult patch for Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan and information extracted from him will put the security
forces in a position of advantage."

"Beyond The Narrow Confines," an editorial in the country's premier
business newspaper, "Business Recorder" (cir. 25,000) (08/20)

"The Special Envoy Holbrooke's fifth visit to Pakistan marks a clear
departure from the United States' anti-terrorism specific bilateral
relationship with Pakistan.... If and when to launch military
operation in South Waziristan Richard Holbrooke now agrees that 'it
is Pakistan's internal matter.'... At this stage it would be
premature to say that Holbrooke's words and expressions herald in a
paradigm shift in the Pak-U.S. relationship by seeking to broaden
its base and widening its scope."

"Similar U.S., India Objectives Against Our Security: Jihad Now
Obligatory Against Enemy" an editorial in the second-largest,
center-right nationalist Urdu daily "Nawa-i-Waqt" (cir. 150,000)
(08/20)

"Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi has said that if India has
prior information on extremist organizations inside Pakistan
planning attack on India then it should come up with the proof. The
statement of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cannot be ignored
in this respect, he added.... Our rulers are aware of our enemy and
its patron, America's conspiracies, but they are falling in love
with them. This policy is against national pride and the country's
security.... We should not be ashamed of Jihad or apologetic about
it and should prepare ourselves for it. This is the way to teach a
lesson to our enemy for its nefarious conspiracies and
stubbornness."

"Need To Keep An Eye On Indian Designs," an editorial in the
Lahore-based populist center-right Urdu daily "Khabrain" (cir.
50,000) (08/20)

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Anthony has said terrorist training
camps inside Pakistan are a threat to Indian security....
Meanwhile, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has accused
Pakistan of using American military aid against India and said that
American administration has been informed of Indian reservations in
this respect.... Indian allegations are not new for Pakistan.
India has always tried to take advantage by keeping the atmosphere
tense. Prior to this, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had
leveled an amusing allegation that terrorist organizations inside
Pakistan are planning an attack on India.... There is a need to
take note of this new Indian propaganda campaign against Pakistan;
summoning of Indian Ambassador is not enough. The government of
Pakistan should make it clear on India that any adventurism will be
responded to sternly."

"Will The Taliban Re-Emerge?," an op-ed by Air Marshal (Retd) Ayaz
Ahmed Khan in the center-right national English daily "The Nation"
(cir. 20,000) (08/20)

"The next mission of the Pakistani armed forces is to bring normalcy
to North and South Waziristan. The military planning for this
mission seems to be in order.... After the death of Baitullah
Mehsud; with disarray in the ranks of TTP insurgents and continued
air strikes, there are likely to be more defections, with the
demoralized Taliban wishing to surrender."

"Saifullah In Islamabad," an op-ed by Zafar Hilaly in the populist,
often sensational national English daily "The News" (cir. 55,000)
(08/20)

"That Saifullah, the possible successor and right-hand man of
Pakistan's most notorious outlaw, Baitullah Mehsud, was being
treated in the environs of Islamabad by a team of doctors speaks
volumes. It suggests that Pakistan's capital, arguably the
best-protected city in all Pakistan, leaks like a sieve. It amounts
to one more sad revelation of just how deep and pervasive is the
penetration of civil society by extremists and the failure of our
much vaunted intelligence apparatus to prevent it. This is the
inescapable conclusion that is drawn unless we are prepared to
believe that the establishment is complicit in allowing extremists
to set up an effective support system in Islamabad and its environs,
so much so that even their war wounded are brought there for
treatment and recovery, safe from the reach of the law."

"A Slow Return To Normalcy," an op-ed by Gloria Caleb in the
Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily "Dawn"
(cir. 55,000) (08/20)

"According to government officials although 90 per cent of the
valley has been cleared of the Taliban, the militants' presence in
certain pockets continues to haunt the local people. This has not
only caused resentment among the returnees but has also created a
new breed of internally displaced from the Matta, Kanju and Kabal
areas.... In addition to the enormous task of starting life anew,
the returnees are also troubled by rumors of another exodus on the
way. 'If true, this would be the worst atrocity committed against
us,' says Nasim, a housewife who resides in Mingora. She, like many
others, says that come what may, dying in Swat is better than
leaving home again."

"Beyond The Narrow Confines," an editorial in the country's premier
business newspaper, "Business Recorder" (cir. 25,000) (08/20)

"In a press conference, they (Richard Holbrooke and Foreign Minister
Shah Mehmud Qureshi) talked more in terms of expanding the existing
narrow-based economic relationship, so much so that the U.S.
official even volunteered to help Pakistan overcome its energy
crisis. How and when, there was no immediate elucidation except the
reported remark attributed to unidentified sources that the host
officials did ask for civilian nuclear technology assistance - only
to be rebuffed and warned in return not to seek it even from any
other source including France."

"Energy Needs Be Fulfilled With Chinese Help," an editorial in the
second-largest, center-right nationalist Urdu daily "Nawa-i-Waqt"
(cir. 150,000) (08/20)

"PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif has said in a meeting with Chinese
Ambassador that China should help Pakistan combat the energy
crisis.... Our government has given bases to America and redeployed
troops from eastern to western border in order to safeguard U.S.
interests. Obama says that America is a natural ally of India as
both have similar values. America does not even like our nuclear
power status. Trusting America is nothing but self deception....
Energy and economic crises could be dealt with Chinese help rather
than American.... China should be contacted for fulfilling energy
requirements and it will surely not disappoint Pakistan; it can even
build Kalabagh Dam."

(All circulation figures are based on estimation)
Feierstein