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09ISLAMABAD304 2009-02-11 13:49:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

PAKISTAN MEDIA REACTION: FEBRUARY 11, 2009

Tags:   KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK 
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK
SUBJECT: PAKISTAN MEDIA REACTION: FEBRUARY 11, 2009

Summary: Reports and photographs of the U.S. Special Envoy
Holbrooke's meeting with senior Pakistani officials dominated
headlines in all newspapers on Wednesday. All newspapers
highlighted the report that "Pakistan and the U.S. agreed on a joint
team to review the policy in the war on terror." Also highlighted
on the front pages was President Barack Obama's statement that
"al-Qaeda can't be allowed to operate in Pakistan save havens." In
an exclusive story, the English daily, "The News," and its sister
Urdu newspaper "Jang," reported that the "local Taliban leadership
has decided to send their fighters to Islamabad as a reaction to the
operations in Darra Adamkhel (FATA) and Swat valley." Likewise,
some major newspapers reported that the "Taliban asked consumers in
Swat valley not to pay electricity bills, and threatened the
authorities not to cut power supply to the area."

All newspapers continued to run in-depth editorials on Ambassador
Holbrooke's current visit to Pakistan and its possible impact on the
region. The centrist national daily, "The News," observed that the
"U.S. sees regional cooperation, between Afghanistan, India and
Pakistan, as crucial to peace in the region. Pakistan must ensure
it is not left stranded somewhere on the sidelines as this
partnership is put in place." The Peshawar-based daily, "The
Statesman," noted that "instead of receiving the daily dose of
platitudes, the peace-loving section of humanity in the region would
expect something new and positive from the special U.S. envoy."
Toeing the line, the popular rightist daily, "Ausaf," wrote: "If the
U.S. really wants to make Pakistani nation its friend, it will have
to change the inhuman policies of the Bush Administration, and must
halt use of military force against Pakistan." End Summary.



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


News Stories


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



"Pakistan, U.S. Agree On Joint Team For New Anti-Terrorism Policy"
"Daily Times" (02/11)

"Pakistan and the U.S. agreed on Tuesday to set up a bipartisan
'inter-agency team' to improve coordination in intelligence-sharing,
security and other affairs - in a bid to review the policy in the
war on terror."

"'Safe Havens' Must Be Uprooted: Holbrooke; Qureshi Urges Talks With
Reconcilable Elements" "Dawn" (02/11)

"U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador
Richard Holbrooke urged the Pakistani leadership on Tuesday to
eliminate safe havens of terrorists in tribal areas and said the
Obama administration would fully support efforts for achieving the
objective. The U.S. envoy met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi,
Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI's Director General
Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha."

"Holbrooke Also Told About Negative Fallout Of Drone Attacks" "The
News" (02/11)

".... Sources said that President Zardari raised the issue of drone
attacks [during his meeting with Ambassador Holbrooke] and asked for
ending them as they were proving counterproductive. He said
development in Fata was necessary to deal with extremism."

"FATA Not Safe Haven For Terrorists: Asif" "The Post" (02/11)

"Reacting to the recent statement by U.S. President Barack Obama,
President Asif Zardari in unequivocal terms has stated that tribal
areas would not be allowed to become safe haven for terrorists and
extremists. Pakistan has dismantled Al-Qaeda network and now they
are hiding in mountains, he said while talking to U.S. Special Envoy
for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke on Monday."

"Close Ties, But No Let-Up On Terror Issue: Obama" "Dawn" (02/11)

"U.S. President Barack Obama has said he has sent his special envoy
Richard Holbrooke to Islamabad with a message that terrorists who
threaten the United States also threaten Pakistan. In his first
prime-time news conference as president, Mr. Obama sent forceful
message to Pakistan: Washington seeks a closer relationship with
Islamabad but there can be no compromise on the issue of
terrorism."

"Pak-Afghan Policy To Be Reviewed: Obama" "The News" (02/11)

"President Barack Obama has ordered an interagency review to examine
U.S. policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan before a NATO summit in
April, the White House said on Tuesday. White House spokesman
Robert Gibbs said the review would be carried out by Bruce Riedel, a
former CIA officer."

"Taliban Threaten To Attack Islamabad" "The News" (02/11)

"The local Taliban leadership has decided to send its fighters to
Islamabad as a reaction to the operations in Darra Adamkhel and Swat
Valley and in this regard chalking on the walls of Islamabad are
already appearing. Many religious scholars in Islamabad have also
received messages from the Taliban that they have only two options,
either to support the Taliban or leave the capital or they will be
considered collaborators of the 'pro-American Zardari government'
which, they claim, is not different from the previous Musharraf
regime."

"Foreign Sleuths Supervise Operation In Peshawar" "The News"
(02/11)

"As anger is mounting among the locals against the U.S. drone
attacks in Pakistani territory, foreign sleuths reportedly
supervised an operation in Gujjarabad - an urban town of the
provincial capital - is yet another move to fuel the public fury, a
source confided to 'The News' on Tuesday."

"U.S. Envoy Seeks Support For Journalist's Release" "Dawn" (02/11)

"U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard
Holbrooke on Tuesday sought Pakistan's support for the release of
New York Times journalist David Rhodes who has been kidnapped in
Afghanistan. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani assured the U.S.
envoy of 'full support' in this regard. A statement issued by the
Prime Minister House particularly mentioned the assurance extended
by Mr. Gilani to Mr. Holbrooke. Interestingly, the Prime Minister
House soon afterwards issued a revised press release expunging the
part concerning the abducted journalist."

"Holbrooke Holds Out Assurance For Aafia's Early Release" "The Post"
(02/11)

"Well-placed sources told 'Online' that Dr Fauzia Siddiqui also met
new U.S. special envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard
Holbrooke.... She told that her sister Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was kept
in U.S. prison despite being innocent. Richard Holbrooke held out
an assurance to Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui to provide full justice to her
sister Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, just investigation into her case and her
early release."

"Afghanistan Must Not Be Allowed To Weaken Pakistan" "Daily times"
(02/11)

"U.S. Senator John Kerry has said that strengthening the Pakistani
democratic government must be a key part of the regional approach to
curb militancy in the region, and Afghanistan should not be allowed
to destabilize Islamabad."

"FATA Fighting May Displace 600,000: UN" "The Nation" (02/11)

"Fierce fighting in tribal areas could soon drive more than 600,000
people from their homes, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)
said on Tuesday. Spokesman Ron Redmond said the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees will ramp up its relief work in
northwestern Pakistan, where security has deteriorated sharply since
last year."

"11 Militants Killed In Bajaur Operation" "The Nation" (02/11)

"Troops backed by helicopter gunships killed 11 rebels and pounded
suspected militant hideouts in Bajaur, the military said on
Tuesday."

"50 Taliban Killed In Fresh Swat Operation, Says NWFP Minister"
"Daily Times" (02/11)

"Around 50 Taliban have been killed in the third phase of the
ongoing military operation in Swat, NWFP Information Minister
Iftikhar Hussain said on Tuesday."

"Taliban Ask Consumers To Stop Paying Power Bills" "The News"
(02/11)

"One soldier was killed and 13 others, including two civilians,
injured as security forces and militants clashed in different areas
of the restive Swat Valley on Tuesday. Also, local Taliban have
asked the residents of Malakand division not to pay electricity
bills and threatened the WAPDA authorities not to cut power supply
to the area."

"2 Drones Intrude Into Khyber Agency" "The News" (02/11)

"Two U.S. spy planes violated the Pak airspace and entered the
limits of Landi Kotal tehsil at about 7 pm, which continued flying
for about half an hour on Tuesday evening."

"Rift In Pakistan Government Sealed Pole's Fate" "Dawn" (02/11)

"Internal divisions within Pakistan's government apparatus hampered
efforts to save the life of a Polish hostage beheaded by Taliban
militants, Poland's Foreign Minister said on Tuesday."

"Engineer's Killing Yet To Be Verified, Says Qureshi" "Dawn"
(02/11)

"Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday said the reported
beheading of the kidnapped Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak was yet
to be verified, but if the reports were correct, the barbaric act
should be condemned in strongest possible terms, the Minister said
at a press conference."

"'Al Qaeda Video' Warns India Of More Attacks" "Dawn" (02/11)

"A senior Al Qaeda leader, who was claimed to have been killed last
year, has resurfaced to warn India of swift retribution if it
attacked Pakistan, but Indian officials said on Tuesday the threat,
conveyed on a video through the BBC, was not new and in any case New
Delhi was prepared to meet the challenge."



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


Editorials/Op-eds


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



"Holbrooke Visit," an editorial in the centrist national English
daily "The News" (cir. 55,000) (02/11)

"Islamabad must then focus on the economic aid plan. Of the current
options available, this would best suit its interests. It must
also, putting doubts aside, focus on building a relationship with
Mr. Holbrooke and his team. The U.S. sees regional cooperation,
between Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, as crucial to peace in the
region. Pakistan must ensure it is not left stranded somewhere on
the sidelines as this partnership is put in place."

"Holbrook's Fears," an editorial in the Peshawar-based independent
regional daily "The Statesman" (cir. 3,000) (02/11)

"Instead of receiving the daily dose of platitudes, the peace-loving
section of humanity in the region would expect something new and
positive from the special U.S. envoy."

"U.S. Indication To Review Policy On Pakistan And Afghanistan," an
editorial in the popular rightist Urdu-language daily "Ausaf" (cir.
10,000) (02/11)

"If the United States really wants to make Pakistani nation its
friend, it will have to change its inhuman policies of the Bush
Administration, and must discontinue military force against
Pakistan. Instead, the U.S. should support Pakistan economically
and assume more humane policies or else this fire will take the
entire region into its fold."

"Mr. Holbrooke And Ground Realities," an editorial in the
Peshawar-based Urdu-language daily "Mashriq" (cir. 55,000) (02/11)

"Unfortunately the Bush Administration never bothered to consider
the ground realities while making decisions about this part of the
world. Nevertheless, the Obama administration has signaled to
revisit the U.S. policies and as such it must understand that any
steps that increase difficulties for Pakistan are contrary to the
mutual interests."

"Appointment Of Western Diplomats And Our Joint Responsibilities,"
an editorial in the leading mass circulation centrist Urdu daily
"Jang" (cir. 300,000) (02/11)

"We must not overlook the fact that both the United States and
Britain haven't appointed their special envoys just for the sake of
pleasure, but in fact these countries will choose their future
course in the light of findings of these diplomats. Therefore, it
is essential for the Pakistani government and the representatives of
all walks of the society to enlighten these diplomats with the
ground realities and the compulsions of Pakistan, as their reports
will decide whether or not the U.S. and U.K. will continue
cooperation in different fields of life or not."

"Awareness Of Ground Realities, And Vow To Renew Friendship," an
editorial in the Lahore-based Urdu daily "Waqt" (circ. 5000)
(02/11)

"If President Obama's Special Representative wants to understand the
ground realities of South Asia, he must also consider that along
with military operation, reconciliation and compromise cannot be
ignored in order to have peace, and to eliminate terrorism.
Otherwise the war in Afghanistan and in Pakistan's tribal areas
cannot be won."

"Obama's Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke's Visit To Pakistan," an
editorial in the Lahore-based independent Urdu daily "Din" (circ.
5000) (02/11)

"While briefing Mr. Holbrooke, our officials should convince him
that the only way to remove the grave threats to the U.S. and its
national security is for the U.S. to concentrate on restoring its
economy, and to avoid unnecessary expenditure on Iraq and
Afghanistan by extricating itself from the so called global war on
terror as soon as possible."

"Removing Safe Havens," an editorial in the center-right national
English daily "The Nation" (cir. 20,000) (02/11)

"The contacts between the U.S. and Pakistan should be utilized to
bring home to the Americans that the eagerness to go ahead with
achieving their objective by launching drone attacks is not proving
helpful. On the contrary, they are creating anti-U.S. feelings and
making the task of Pakistan harder.... The failure of military
means so far should convince it of the primacy of these factors in
winning the hearts and minds of the people."

"Tribal Areas; Obama's Stand And Pakistan's National Interests," an
editorial in the second-largest, center-right nationalist Urdu daily
"Nawa-i-Waqt" (cir. 150,000) (02/11)

"President Barack Obama's news conference further confirmed the new
U.S. administration's intent that it is going to be spending all
energies on Afghanistan. The possibility of [U.S.] launching ground
attack on Pakistan on the pretext of operation in the tribal areas
cannot be ruled out.... Expecting anything from America and
considering its war as ours would be imprudent.... It would be
better to apprise Holbrooke about ground realities instead of
dishing out more assurance to him."

"Uncle Sam's Threats And Packs Of Jokers," an op-ed by Shireen M.
Mazari in the centrist national English daily "The News" (cir.
55,000) (02/11)

"Holbrooke has the gall to declare that he is in Pakistan to renew
U.S. 'commitment and friendship with the people of Pakistan.' Mr.
Holbrooke, the U.S. has never had a commitment to the Pakistani
nation - only to its own goals here and to its handpicked leaders,
both in uniform and in civvies. As for friendship, only the U.S.
would define this in terms of killings, which is what they are doing
to the Pakistani people. If the U.S. really wanted to show a
positive commitment to the people of Pakistan, they would stop the
drone attacks, allow our state to dialogue with all its stake
holders, desist from strategic arrangements with India that have a
direct fallout on Pakistan, stop destabilizing Pakistan by using its
territory to target the Iranian state, and accept our differing
perspective on critical issues including proliferation and Dr.
Khan."

"Fixing Afghanistan," an op-ed by Nasim Zehra in the centrist
national English daily "The News" (cir. 55,000) (02/11)

"As Holbrooke treads the soil of our region and acknowledges that
his country has never faced a more complex problem than working for
peace and security in Afghanistan, he must be humbled by the
blunders Washington has committed. And perhaps continues to commit.
Holbrooke's task is to make his team in Washington to abandon the
failed ways of working policy in Afghanistan."

"Taliban-Like Terrorists Created By RAW, Mossad And CIA," an
editorial note in the Lahore-based independent Urdu daily "Din"
(circ. 5000) (02/11)

"It has now been proven that some anti-state, anti-peace elements
posing as the Taliban, are destroying important national facilities
in some important cities in the tribal areas and the NWFP like
Bannu, Swat, Hangu, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan by using the latest
foreign weapons. These anti-state and anti-peace Taliban-like
elements include saboteurs, agents and terrorists of the Mossad,
RAW, CIA and pro-Karzai Northern Alliance. It is imperative to
investigate how these weapons reached the local people. Huge caches
of U.S., western, Israeli and Indian weapons are also helping these
elements carry out their terrorist activities in the tribal areas."


"Battle For Hearts And Minds," an editorial in the country's premier
business newspaper, "Business Recorder" (cir. 25,000) (02/11)

"We strongly believe that terrorism in this region is to a great
extent the unwanted by-product of indigenous struggle for freedom in
Kashmir and Afghans' inborn detestation for foreign occupation of
their land. Rightly then, the foreign minister's assertion that in
the 'battle for people's hearts and minds the power of persuasion
must be stronger than the effects of coercion, and an inclusive
process must include dialogue and reconciliation.'"

"U.S. Support To India Exposed," an editorial in the Karachi-based,
pro Taliban Jihadi Urdu daily "Islam" (cir. 15,000) (02/11)

"The Mumbai attacks have exposed the U.S. role in the diplomatic
drive against Pakistan. The U.S. Ambassador Patterson met Prime
Minister Gilani immediately after the extraordinary meeting of the
Defense Committee of the Federal Cabinet. Though the Media Center
of the PM House refrained from telling anything about this meeting,
however the media sources claimed that the U.S. Ambassador demanded
to take action against the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks if they
are from Pakistan. This approach demonstrates that the U.S. has
become a party on this issue."

"Response To Mumbai," an editorial in the Karachi-based center-left
independent national English daily "Dawn" (cir. 55,000) (02/11)

"In legal matters, patience is not just a virtue, it is the bedrock
of justice. However, Prosecution of the Mumbai suspects will only
bring partial closure to the Mumbai issue. The second half is
political and will depend on Pakistan's commitment to shutting down
militant networks that operate here. This is where the issue
becomes murkier. The government has locked some offices of the
Jamaatud Dawa and curbed the movement of a few of its leaders but it
is still not clear if a full-scale closure is in the offing."

"Trading Dossiers," an editorial in the centrist national English
daily "The News" (cir. 55,000) (02/11)

"If India truly wants Pakistan to conduct an investigation it cannot
expect it to do so blindfold and with one hand tied behind its back.
Pakistan for its part needs to do a reality check. The attackers
were Pakistani by origin but most unlikely to be acting at the
behest of the state."

"Ball In India's Court," an editorial in the center-right national
English daily "The Nation" (cir. 20,000) (02/11)

"If the ministerial duo is certain about the involvement of
particular individuals in the Mumbai terror attacks, they should ask
their government to immediately share this secret with Pakistan,
rather than confusing the situation."

"Pakistan's Response," an editorial in the Lahore-based liberal
English daily "The Post" (cir. 5,000) (02/11)

"Unfortunately, India suspects Pakistan's sincere pledge to bring
the Mumbai blasts' culprits to book. Delhi's lack of trust in
Pakistan's efforts to tackle terrorism and its unusual troop
movements on the international border resulted in the heightening of
tension.... The Indian government should have trust in Pakistan's
government's efforts to bring the culprits to book. In this regard
the Defence Committee of the Cabinet deliberations and decisions
will help achieve the desired results."

"Suspended Freedoms," an editorial in the centrist national English
daily "The News" (cir. 55,000) (02/11)

"Moving beyond the controversy surrounding Dr. Qadeer, we need to
stick to some kind of principle. The irrefutable fact is that
treating any citizen in this manner is illegal and grossly
unjust.... The government must either grant Dr. Qadeer liberty or
begin a proper process of trial. Secret agreements, covert deals and
other attempts to hide the truth will only add to the
complications."

"A Closed Chapter?," an editorial in the center-right national
English daily "The Nation" (cir. 20,000) (02/11)

"The Islamabad High Court on Friday set Dr. Khan free because it
felt that his network had been rendered ineffective.... But
unfortunately, his release had set alarm bells ringing in western
capitals. U.S. officials have sharply objected to the IHC decision.
It seems that the government has succumbed to this pressure and
placed curbs that include restrictions on his movement."

"Do not accept any pressure on Dr. Khan issue," an editorial in the
Karachi based left-wing Sindhi Daily "Awami Awaz" (Cir. 70,000)
(02/11)

"We believe that Dr A.Q. Khan's issue is an internal matter of
Pakistan, and no other country should be allowed to mess around with
it. When the U.S. raises questions about Dr. Khan, Pakistani
government must let the U.S. know that Pakistan's demands for
stopping the drone attacks had gone unheard. The government must not
accept any external pressure on this issue, and should not restrict
Dr. Khan's freedom."
Patterson