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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
86ISLAMABAD1587 1986-01-23 09:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

KHAMENEI'S VISIT: RESURGENCE OF SHIA EXTREMISM?

Tags:   PINS PGOV PK 
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1. CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT.



2. SUMMARY: THE SUCCESSFUL (FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE)
VISIT OF KHAMENEI TO PAKISTAN HAS BOOSTED THE MORALE OF
THE RADICAL SHIA GROUPS HERE. APPARENTLY FLUSH WITH NEW
FUNDS, THE SHIAS HAVE BEGUN MAKING COMMON CAUSE WITH
THE ANTI-GOP, ANTI-US OPPOSITION, PARTICULARLY OVER
LIBYA. SUCH CAUSES EVOKE LITTLE PUBLIC SYMPATHY, AND
THE ATTITUDES OF THE SUNNI MAJORITY -- MANY OF WHOM
HAVE BEGUN TO LOOK UPON ANY SIGNS OF SHIA ASSERTIVENESS
WITH SUSPICION AND DISTASTE -- WILL CONTINUE TO LIMIT
THE ABILITY OF THE RADICAL SHIAS TO PURSUE SPECIFICALLY
SECTARIAN GOALS. HOWEVER, SHIA EXTREMISTS WILL
DOUBTLESS SEEK TO EXPLOIT ANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR FANNING
ANTI-AMERICANISM AMONG THE PUBLIC AT LARGE. A HEATING
UP OF THE AL QUDS EPISODE WOULD TURN ALL GROUPS AGAINST
US. END SUMMARY.

THE KHAMENEI VISIT



2. ONE WORRISOME ASPECT OF THE RECENT VISIT OF IRANIAN
PRESIDENT KHAMENEI TO PAKISTAN HAS BEEN THE APPARENT
NEW LEASE ON LIFE IT HAS GIVEN TO RADICAL SHIA
ORGANIZATIONS HERE. PAKISTANI SHIAS CLEARLY VIEWED THE
VISIT PRIMARILY AS A SECTARIAN ONE, AND THE COMMUNITY
AS A WHOLE WENT ALL OUT TO ENSURE KHAMENEI'S WELCOME
WAS A WARM ONE. HUGE THRONGS OF SHIAS WERE BUSED TO THE
AIRPORTS IN LAHORE AND ISLAMABAD TO GREET KHAMENEI AND
WELCOMING POSTERS SPRUNG UP IN THE MAJOR CITIES OF THE
COUNTRY.



3. THE MONEY FOR THIS MAJOR EFFORT APPARENTLY CAME FROM
TWO SOURCES: WEALTHY PAKISTANI SHIAS AND THE IRANIAN
GOVERNMENT. THE FUNDS WERE FUNNELED PRIMARILY THROUGH
TWO RADICAL SHIA ORGANIZATIONS, THE TEHRIK-E-NIFAZ-E-
FIQH-E-JAFFRIA AND THE IMAMIA STUDENTS ORGANIZATION
(ISO). THESE TWO ORGANIZATIONS HAD BEEN IN THE
FOREFRONT OF THE SECTARIAN AGITATION LAST YEAR.
HOWEVER, FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS -- PERHAPS INCLUDING
THE FEAR OF A SUNNI BACKLASH -- THEY HAD BEEN
RELATIVELY QUIET FOR THE PAST FEW MONTHS.



4. IN UTILIZING THE NEW FUNDS AVAILABLE, THE EXTREMIST
SHIAS ENSURED THAT KHAMENEI'S WELCOME TOOK ON A
RADICAL, ANTI-GOP, ANTI-US TINGE. THE CROWDS CHANTED
ANTI-AMERICAN SLOGANS, MANY OF THE BANNERS WERE ON AN
ANTI-AMERICAN THEME, AND A LARGE NUMBER OF SHIAS AT THE
DEPARTURE CEREMONY OPENLY SHOWED DISRESPECT TO
PRESIDENT ZIA, SURROUNDING HIS CAR AND MAKING OBSCENE
GESTURES.

RENEWED SELF-CONFIDENCE



5. IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE KHAMENEI VISIT, THE RADICAL
SHIAS APPEAR MORE SELF-CONFIDENT THAN THEY HAVE IN
MONTHS. SINCE KHAMENEI'S DEPARTURE, THE ISO HAS BEEN
PARTICULARLY ACTIVE IN SUPPORTING THE FLURRY OF
ANTI-AMERICAN, PRO-LIBYAN RALLIES WHICH OPPOSITION
POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE ORGANIZED THROUGHOUT THE
COUNTRY. THESE RALLIES HAVE NOT STRUCK A POPULAR CHORD
-- ATTENDANCE HAS ALMOST UNIFORMLY BEEN SMALL -- BUT
THE AMOUNT OF ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORT WHICH HAS GONE INTO
THEM AND THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE POPPED UP ALL OVER THE
COUNTRY MAKES THIS PHENOMENON NOTEWORTHY.

LIMITS



6. THE ACTIVITIES OF THE RADICAL SHIA ORGANIZATIONS
WILL, HOWEVER, CONTINUE TO BE LIMITED BY TWO FACTORS:
THE AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS AND FEAR OF A SUNNI
BACKLASH. THE RECENT ACTIVISM OF THE RADICAL SHIAS
APPEARS TO BE A MANIFESTATION NOT ONLY OF EUPHORIA
FOLLOWING THE KHAMENEI VISIT, BUT ALSO OF A GREATER
AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS. THE MONEY BEING SPENT NOW --MUCH
OF WHICH PRESUMABLY IS LEFT-OVER FROM THE VISIT -- WILL
HAVE TO BE REPLENISHED IF THE SHIAS ARE TO MAINTAIN
THEIR CURRENT LEVEL OF ACTIVITY. THE ATTITUDE OF THE
IRANIAN GOVERNMENT -- THE MOST LIKELY PAYMASTER -- WILL
THEN BECOME CRUCIAL -- WILL THE IRANIANS RISK
ANTAGONIZING THE GOP TO PLAY THEIR OWN SECTARIAN GAMES
IN PAKISTAN?



7. GIVEN THE DEMOGRAPHIC IMBALANCE -- AND THE GROWING
INTOLERANCE OF SHIA "DEMANDS" BY THE VAST SUNNI
MAJORITY, THE SHIAS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PURSUE
SUCCESSFULLY A SPECIFICALLY SHIA AGENDA. INDEED, THE
LEVEL OF GRUMBLING AMONGST THE SUNNIS ABOUT THE SHIAS
HAS NOTICEABLY RISEN AS A RESULT OF A PERCEPTION THAT
THE SHIAS "HIJACKED" KHAMENEI'S VISIT FOR THEIR OWN
PURPOSES AND ARE -- ONCE AGAIN -- GROWING UPPITY.
PRESIDENT ZIA HIMSELF IS REPORTEDLY ENRAGED BY HIS
TREATMENT AT THE HANDS OF KHAMENEI'S WELL-WISHERS AND
HAS TOLD THE SECURITY FORCES TO CHECK CLOSELY INTO THE
OPERATIONS --AND FUNDING -- OF THE RADICAL SHIAS.



8. PRESUMABLY, A RECOGNITION THAT THEY CAN NOT AFFORD
TO GO IT ALONE AT LEAST PARTIALLY EXPLAINS WHY THE
RADICAL SHIAS ARE INCREASINGLY MAKING COMMON CAUSE WITH
THE EXTRA-PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION AND IN PARTICULAR
HAVE LASHED ON TO THE LIBYAN CAUSE AS TOOL FOR
AMERICAN-BASHING.



9. THE OPPOSITION ALLIANCE, THE MOVEMENT FOR THE
RESTORARTION OF DEMOCRACY (MRD), HAS BEEN WILLING TO
MAKE COMMON CAUSE AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT WITH THE
SHIAS. IN SOME WAYS, THIS IS A NATURAL ALLIANCE OF
GROUPS ON THE OUTS WITH THE PRESENT SYSTEM. FOR THE
MRD, HOWEVER, THE SHIAS REPRESENT A TWO-EDGED SWORD:
SHIA EXTREMISTS MIGHT HIJACK THE ANTI-GOVERNMENT
MOVEMENT FOR THEIR OWN RADICAL PURPOSES, THEREBY
ALIENATING MUCH OF THE MRD'S CONSTITUENCY (MANY OF WHOM
ARE FAIRLY CONSERVATIVE SUNNIS).

COMMENT



10. FOR THE MOMENT, THE TACTIS OF THE RADICAL SHIAS
APPEAR UNLIKELY TO SUCCEED: THE GOVERNMENT APPEARS
FAIRLY FIRMLY IN THE SADDLE, AT LEAST OVER THE SHORT
TERM; AND COLONEL QADDHAFI'S CAUSE EVOKES LITTLE PUBLIC
SYMPATHY -- TOO MANY PAKISTANIS CONSIDER HIM A
TERRORIST. IF, HOWEVER, AN ANTI-AMERICAN CAUSE ARISES
AROUND WHICH A LARGER SECTION OF THE PAKISTANI POPULACE
CAN UNITE -- AND EVENTS SUCH AS RECENTLY HAPPENED AT
THE AL-AQSA MOSQUE COULD PROVE TO BE SUCH A CATALYST --
THE RADICAL SHIAS WILL NO DOUBT DO ALL THEY CAN TO TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF THE SITUATION.


HINTON