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09ISLAMABAD976 2009-05-07 12:19:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

PAKISTAN MEDIA REACTION: MAY 07, 2009

Tags:   KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK 
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SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK
SUBJECT: PAKISTAN MEDIA REACTION: MAY 07, 2009

Summary: Reports and photographs of President Zardari's U.S. visit
dominated all front pages on Thursday and overshadowed reports of
"fierce clashes and explosions in Swat valley and Malakand region"
that resulted in killing of 98 people including 47 militants.
President Obama's statement made during a joint press conference in
the White House that "U.S. would continue support to the democratic
government of Pakistan" received prominent display. All newspapers
highlighted the report that Secretary Clinton was "impressed with
recent Pakistani military action against the Taliban." Report on
signing of a MOU by Pakistan and Afghanistan to initiate talks on a
transit trade agreement was also highlighted. All major dailies
highlighted report that at least "22 militants were killed in a
paramilitary force's raid" at a village in Buner.

Most major dailies ran editorials on the brewing humanitarian crisis
in Swat, military operation against Taliban and President Zardari's
ongoing U.S. visit. In its editorial titled, "Hot and Cold," the
English newspaper, "The News," noted that President Obama's "praise
for the military last week must after all be rooted somewhere; it
couldn't have come entirely out of the blue, especially as Obama has
a reputation as a man who thinks out every move well in advance."
Likewise, the Peshawar-based Urdu daily, "Mashriq," observed that
the "U.S. officials issue statements in line with their needs and
interests, therefore contradictions and discrepancies have become a
everyday routine in their comments." Commenting on a Boston Globe
report on Pakistan's nuclear surrender, the center-right national
daily "The Nation" wrote: "There is no reason for us to open up on
this highly sensitive issue before any foreign power and no one
should ever be allowed to even discuss the possibility of our
surrendering the most potent weapon of security." End Summary.



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


News Stories


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



"U.S. Stands By Pakistan Democratic Govt.: Obama" "The News"
(05/07)

"The United States would continue support to the democratic
government of Pakistan, declared American President Barack Obama in
Washington on Wednesday. He was addressing a joint press conference
with President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan president Hamid Karzai at
the Grand Foyer Hall of the White House. President Obama said his
government is in touch with the Congress for the approval of
economic assistance bill for Pakistan. The U.S. President pledged
that his country would play a role in bringing Pakistan out of its
present economic crisis by extending economic help."

"Clinton Impressed By Operation" "The News" (05/07)

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ways she is optimistic
that Afghanistan and Pakistan will fight extremists, and she is
impressed with recent Pakistani military action against the Taliban.
Clinton said, adding that there was 'resolve going forward' in the
Islamabad government's struggle with the Taliban."

"India To Get Afghan Transit Trade Route; Hillary Oversees Signing
Of Accord" "Dawn" (05/07)

"Pakistan and Afghanistan signed on Wednesday a memorandum of
understanding to begin talks on a transit trade agreement which will
ultimately allow India to use the Wagah-Khyber route for trade with
Kabul. The memorandum of understanding commits the two 'countries
to achieving a trade transit agreement by the end of the year, which
we believe will have great economic benefits for both peoples,' said
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who hosted the Afghan and
Pakistani Presidents for the first round of the second trilateral
talks."

"Clinton Pays Tributes To Benazir, Haqqani" "The News" (05/07)

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid rich tributes to Pakistan's
former prime minister Benazir Bhutto at the State Department
Wednesday on the occasion of the inaugural session of the trilateral
strategic talks between Pakistan, the United States and
Afghanistan."

"President Urges Massive U.S. Support To Fight Insurgency" "The
News" (05/07)
"President Asif Ali Zardari has put across Pakistan's perspective on
security issues with regard to counterinsurgency in the tribal areas
and the overall fight against extremism when he met members of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington at the Capitol Hill."

"Pakistan To Get Five Choppers From U.S.: Malik" "The News" (05/07)


"The United States will soon provide five helicopters to Pakistan to
deal with insurgents effectively, Interior Minister Rehman Malik
told APP on Wednesday. Senior U.S. officials conveyed the decision
to the Interior Minister, saying Washington is prepared to help
Pakistan in its fight against militants."

"Fierce Gun-Battles In Swat, Malakand; 47 Militants, 15 Troops And
36 Civilians Killed" "Dawn" (05/07)

"Forty-seven militants, 15 security personnel and 36 non-combatants
were killed and several others wounded on Wednesday in fierce
clashes and explosions in the Swat valley and Malakand region.
Sources said the militants still had control over Mingora town."

"No Military Operation Under Way In Swat: Iftikhar" "The News"
(05/07)

"NWFP Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain Wednesday said
no military operation was underway in the restive Swat valley and
the security forces were only retaliating against the illegal
activities of the militants."

"Print Media Shuts Down In Swat" "Daily Times" (05/07)

"The print media in Swat has shut down publication due to the
deteriorating security situation, local journalists told 'Daily
Times' on Wednesday."

"22 Perish In Buner FC Raid; Four Bodies Recovered" The News"
(05/07)

"At least 22 militants were killed on Wednesday after the
paramilitary forces raided a village in Buner, the force said in a
statement. The latest casualties in the Buner district came amid a
military operation against the Taliban militants after they occupied
police stations and started armed patrols."

"'Spy' Beheaded In Buner" "Dawn" (05/07)

"Militants beheaded a man on Wednesday after branding him a 'spy.'
Sources said the man belonged to an influential family of Sultanwas.
This is the first incident of beheading in Buner district."

"Upper Dir Tribes Refuse To Confront Taliban" "Dawn" (05/07)

"The Sultankhel and Paindakhel tribes on Wednesday opposed the
activities of Taliban and possible action by security forces in the
district when the district administration sought their help in
expelling militants from Upper Dir, but elders of both the tribes
refused to take up arms against Taliban."

"Peshawar Valley Hosts 0.7 Million IDPs" "The News" (05/07)

"In the wake of ongoing clashes between security forces and
militants in tribal areas and some districts of the NWFP, the
Peshawar valley is hosting more than 0.7 million internally
displaced persons (IDPs)."

"15 Injured In D.I. Khan Mosque Bomb Blast" "The Nation" (05/07)

"At least 17 people were wounded after unknown attackers threw a
hand-grenade at a mosque on Wednesday in Dera Ismail Khan, troubled
by sectarian violence, police said."

"U.S. Legislator Questions Washington's Right To Bomb FATA" "Dawn"
(05/07)

"The House Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. Congress heard an
unusual speech from a Republican lawmaker Ronald Ernest Paul, who
described U.S. drone attacks as the bombing of a sovereign country
and questioned America's right to do so. 'We are bombing a
sovereign country. Where do we get the authority to do that? Did
the Pakistani government give us written permission? Did the
Congress give us written permission to expand the war and start
bombing in Pakistan?' asked the U.S. lawmaker."

"Religious Parties To Agitate Against Taliban, U.S." "The News"
(05/07)

"About two dozen religious parties from the Barelvi school of
thought have decided to launch a countrywide campaign to resist
Talibanization, oppose the U.S. drone attacks and Washington's
intervention. They also decided to launch simultaneously 'Save
Pakistan Campaign' in all the four provinces to counter the growing
secessionist atmosphere in Balochistan and to create national
harmony."



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


Editorials/Op-eds


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



"Hot And Cold," an editorial in the Karachi-based center-left
independent national English daily "Dawn" (cir. 55,000) (05/07)

"President Obama's praise for the military last week must after all
be rooted somewhere; it couldn't have come entirely out of the blue,
especially as Obama has a reputation as a man who thinks out every
move well in advance.... The developments in Washington are then
somewhat disquieting. What Pakistan does not need at this point is
greater instability. This of course would only benefit the
militants who in the past too have taken advantage of the weaknesses
of government.... There is a danger that somewhere along the line
this may be lost sight of, adding to the complications we already
face and which are reflected in the new, wary relationship unfolding
with the U.S."

"Views Of U.S. Officials And Contradiction," an editorial in the
Peshawar-based Urdu-language daily "Mashriq" (cir. 55,000) (05/07)

"U.S. officials issue statements in line with their needs and
interests, therefore contradictions and discrepancies have become a
everyday routine in their comments. U.S. policies with reference to
Pakistan and the compliance of our rulers are unbearable for people
of Pakistan, as they (Pakistani rulers) never established ties with
U.S. on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Perhaps, that is
the reason that Americans always take Pakistan as their colony."

"Nuclear Surrender?," an editorial in the center-right national
English daily "The Nation" (cir. 20,000) (05/07)

"There is no reason for us to open up on this highly sensitive issue
before any foreign power and no one should ever be allowed to even
discuss the possibility of our surrendering the most potent weapon
of security. The U.S., which spared no stratagem it could think of
to scuttle Pakistan's nuclear program while it was under way, finds
it hard to stomach the reality that it tested the weapon
successfully as a tit-for-tat to India.... Islamabad ought to be
extra vigilant against any foreign designs to dispossess it of the
nuclear stockpile. There is no justification whatsoever for
agreeing to engage the U.S. in discussions whose purpose of
depriving us of these assets should not be hidden from our
officials."

"Condemnable Conspiracy To Eliminate Our Nuclear Technology; Is This
The Agenda For President Zardari's U.S. Trip?," an editorial in the
second-largest, center-right nationalist Urdu daily "Nawa-i-Waqt"
(cir. 150,000) (05/07)

"U.S. newspaper Boston Globe claimed in a report yesterday that the
U.S. and Pakistan have started a dialogue for the protection of
Pakistan's nuclear assets and elimination of enriched uranium.
According to the report, based on accounts of two U.S. officials who
have discussed this with Pakistani authorities, America has
suggested that Pakistan send its nuclear material including enriched
uranium to the U.S. in a ship where it will be destroyed....
President Zardari was urged to cancel his trip to the U.S. to
protest the U.S. taunt of calling our civil government weak in
comparison to the military. But the President did not find it
appropriate to cancel his foreign visit. There could be no greater
tragedy for us if - as the Boston Globe has claimed -- the
destruction of enriched uranium is part of President Zardari's
agenda in the U.S."

"Hostile Attitude Of U.S. Media Against Pakistan," an editorial in
the Karachi-based, pro-Taliban Jihadi Urdu daily "Islam" (cir.
15,000) (05/07)

"If we see in retrospect all the American media reports about
Pakistan throughout the last two or three decades, we will find a
commonality in those reports that those were full of hatred and
ill-feeling against Pakistan. It is an open secret that most of the
American media outlets are directly or in some way involved in
propaganda war of Zionist lobby. And this Zionist lobby didn't
digest the fact that Pakistan, a country with a frail economy has
become a nuclear-powered state. Now, they want to capture
Pakistan's nukes in the garb of this propaganda. But perhaps, they
don't know that if the people of Pakistan can develop their nuclear
capabilities, they are quite capable to jealously guard their
nuclear assets too."

"President Zardari's Difficult Trip To The U.S.," an editorial in
the Lahore-based independent Urdu daily "Din" (cir. 10,000) (05/07)

"The presentation of the Kerry-Lugar Bill in the Senate is
encouraging in that it reflects the U.S. intent of strengthening
long-term ties with Pakistan. This is a step in the right
direction. This bill is a clear demonstration of U.S. commitment to
strengthen the civilian government and to improve the lives of
ordinary Pakistanis.... "

"Pakistan Gets Sucked In Trouble," an editorial in the
Islamabad-based rightist English daily "Pakistan Observer" (cir.
5,000) (05/07)

"The emerging dreaded situation in Swat is a matter of grave concern
to every patriotic Pakistani.... Attacks on and occupation of the
symbols of governance is obviously unacceptable and could lead to
large-scale hostilities for an indefinite period. That is what our
friends in the United States wanted and alas they have succeeded in
their nefarious designs."

"Swat's Story," an editorial in the centrist national English daily
"The News" (cir. 55,000) (05/07)

"The truth is the Taliban had never laid down their arms, had made
sure they never relinquished control of Mingora and, as some
intelligence reports suggest, may never have intended to accept the
'accord' brokered by Sufi anyway. It is obvious the militants do
not fall under the aging TNSM leader's control any longer. And even
if we assume his intentions were good, those of the fighters crazed
by power and a lust for blood were not. So, Swat's sad story
continues. The government and the military must now work together
to re-gain control over these areas and to ensure that those guilty
of crime are not allowed to go scot free."

"Victims Of Conflict," an editorial in the Karachi-based center-left
independent national English daily "Dawn" (cir. 55,000) (05/07)

"The humanitarian crisis in the country's conflict zones is
deepening by the day. Caught in the crossfire between militants and
security forces, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced
to leave their homes. This human tragedy, which was years in the
making, has now reached critical proportions.... Anti-Taliban
sentiments may prove to be short-lived if the state does not look
after these new as well as older refugees... It is imperative the
government does all that it can to provide the displaced with
adequate shelter, food and other basic necessities. Our friends
abroad too must be asked to pitch in on an emergency footing."

"Shadow Of The Taliban," an editorial in the Karachi-based
center-left independent national English daily "Dawn" (cir. 55,000)
(05/07)

"While the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and its supporters constitute a
direct challenge to the authority and resources commanded by the
state, it is equally worrying that the extremist right-wing ideology
they represent and the tactics they employ are casting a shadow that
looms far beyond their strongholds.... The fact is that the Taliban
have already extracted a heavy toll in terms of civil liberties and
freedoms of citizens. While the government and the security forces
mull over methods to defeat the Taliban militarily, they would also
do well to recall that the basic purpose of the state and its
apparatus is to ensure the safety and personal freedoms of the
citizens. It may require years to neutralize the Taliban threat in
this deeper sense."

"Human Exodus And War Against Taliban," an editorial in the
Lahore-based liberal English language daily "Daily Times" (cir.
10,000) (05/07)

"If the battle in Swat is to be won, Pakistan must be ready for the
'refugee' problem.... Islamabad must not seek to brush the camps
under the carpet but highlight them as a component of the war on
terrorism. The IDPs must not only be looked after well but be
compensated for the financial losses they have endured so that that
they are tempted to return, ensured of the repossession and
reconstruction of the homes and businesses they have left behind."

"Humanitarian Crisis," an editorial in the center-right national
English daily "The Nation" (cir. 20,000) (05/07)

"With 1.1 million people thrown out of their homes and forced to
live in uncertain conditions, this would constitute a humanitarian
crisis of major magnitude. The question is whether the NWFP
government is able to handle it.... There is a need on the part of
the federal government to make available sufficient funds to deal
with the situation. Before approaching international donors, it
should launch an appeal for funds at home."

"Swat: Need To Understand The Dangers," an editorial in liberal Urdu
daily "Express" (cir. 25,000) (05/07)

"Whether it is Swat or the Taliban's rise, imperialist U.S. should
not forget the historic reality that these creatures are its own
creation.... Special Envoy Holbrooke has clearly said that the Swat
deal should be considered over and that President Zardari was
already against the deal. Americans probably consider it a deal
made on gunpoint. An impression is being created that Pakistan made
the deal from a position of weakness. Now that the Taliban have
rejected the deal and are waging war, and the Nizam-i-Adl is under
threat, the government should make it clear to the world that it
will never compromise on its security and that the operation against
terrorists will continue."

"Swat, Malakand: Peaceful Citizens' Exodus," an editorial in the
center-right Urdu daily "Pakistan" (cir. 10,000) (05/07)

"The nation should remember that the Taliban in Swat and other
troubled areas are becoming a national security threat. Perhaps
there was no other option except military operation to deal with the
emerging situation in these areas. Maulana Sufi and his son-in-law
Maulana Fazlullah have no control over the Taliban and they [the
Taliban] are carrying out activities on their own. Only the army can
now deal with this situation."

"Taliban And Sharia," an editorial in the Lahore-based liberal
English language daily "Daily Times" (cir. 10,000) (05/07)

"The Taliban and the 'background phenomenon' of Al Qaeda base their
worldview on their vision of Sharia without which they would
virtually have no ideological locus standi. They have meted out
harsh punishments to the 'non-practicing' Muslims of Khyber Agency
and elsewhere on the basis of Sharia... The Taliban Sharia is
disputed too.... The only thing different was Sufi Muhammad, and
his family relationship with Fazlullah was actually symbolic of the
relationship Al Qaeda has with the Muslim Ummah. The ANP may have
won the battle by exposing this relationship as a false one."

"Signs Of Disquiet In Washington," an op-ed by Tariq Fatemi in the
Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily "Dawn"
(cir. 55,000) (05/07)

"Washington's expressions of impatience and hints of nostalgia for
the military regime will be counter-productive. The Obama
administration has to demonstrate faith in the democratic
dispensation, for a multi-ethnic state, such as Pakistan, cannot but
be a democracy, where all the constituent elements believe they are
equal stakeholders. True, our democracy has been messy but only a
government enjoying legitimacy can create the national consensus
essential to confronting the militants. American threats and
blandishments will only make matters worse."
"A Letter From Pakistan/Princeton To President Obama," an op-ed by
Sehar Tariq in the centrist national English daily "The News" (cir.
55,000) (05/07)

"You (Obama) surround yourself with 'experts' on Pakistan but with
no people who live amidst and understand this great mass of
humanity. You talk to those who walk the corridors of influence in
Washington but not those who form the real epicenters of power in
Pakistan - its streets, its valleys and mountains. You continue to
engage with the political and military leadership but ignore those
who are the real forces of change - representatives of civil
society, journalists, lawyers, Islamic scholars and students. The
politicized epicenters of power are throbbing with people ready to
resist the forces of extremism.... The people of Pakistan are ready
to lock arms and battle this beast. The question is whether you
will stand by the people of Pakistan in this battle on their terms
or choose the Af-Pak policy of no hope and no change. You are
either with us or against us - us the people - in whose veins the
blood runs green not red!"

"The Talibanization Of Minds," an op-ed by Kamila Hyat in the
centrist national English daily "The News" (cir. 55,000) (05/07)

"There is a need to win back the hearts of people, to address their
needs - otherwise there is a danger that the Taliban will succeed in
winning over this space too. They have indeed exploited the gap in
wealth with immense dexterity in Swat and elsewhere, using
desperate, impoverished people against feudal elements and linking
this up with their warped religious ideology."
Feierstein