152299 5/4/2008 11:30 08ISLAMABAD1735 Embassy Islamabad CONFIDENTIAL 08ISLAMABAD1702 "VZCZCXRO4934 OO RUEHLH RUEHPW DE RUEHIL #1735/01 1251130 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 041130Z MAY 08 FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6773 INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 8516 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 7826 RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 9655 RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 5404 RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 4141 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 03 ISLAMABAD 001735
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PK SUBJECT: HELPING RESOLVE THE DEADLOCK OVER THE JUDGES
REF: ISLAMABAD 1702
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (C) Summary: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-Chair Asif Zardari still seems determined to limit the power the former Chief Justice, but Nawaz Sharif has succeeded in changing the debate to how, not if, Iftikhar Chaudhry will be restored. Zardari's motivation is not to help President Musharraf stay in office, as his relations with Musharraf and ISI are fraying badly, but to protect himself. Zardari claims ISI has sought to embarrass and endanger him; this prompted Zardari to put a hold on the new South Waziristan “peace deal” (see septel for details).
2. (C) The most credible formulation of the judges' restoration involves a term limit for the former Chief Justice, a restriction on the court's ability to interject itself in any topic (suo moto), and curtailing the Chief Justice's ability to make case assignments. Zardari wants UK help in urging Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif to work with him. Zardari said definitively he would not break up his coalition with Nawaz, since his majority would be razor thin, or he would be dependent on Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party. For the first time, Zardari said Musharraf “has to go sometime.” Saying he was broke, Zardari also requested USG help with security.
3. (C) Separately, Musharraf indicated he is not concerned about the former Chief Justice's return to the bench, if it is temporary. Musharraf asked for our help in convincing Zardari that he is better off without Nawaz and to urge that Zardari ally instead with the PML. Embassy believes this will be difficult, if not impossible. Zardari does need help, however. It may be time for a high-level Washington call to Musharraf asking him to reach out to Zardari in a more positive way, including calling off his supporters' maneuvers against Zardari and weighing in with his UAE contacts to pressure Nawaz to back down. End Summary
4. (C) Ambassador met with PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari May 3 at his request. Zardari emotionally conveyed a long litany of complaints against Musharraf and particularly ISI Chief General Nadeem Taj. He said Nadeem Taj had tried to embarrass and endanger him: he was going “to instruct (National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister) Durrani to fire him.” Zardari claimed the intelligence agencies were behind shots fired at his Karachi home - he had complained to Taj, who claimed not to know firing had occurred. “Nadeem Taj should be fired for incompetence if he didn't know about the attack on my house, or he thinks I am a fool,” said Zardari.
5. (C) Zardari criticized Musharraf's handling of the visit of Iranian President Ahmadinejad saying, this is “not an image I want to convey to the western world,” and Musharraf's trip to China, in which he had bought “costly new toys.” He also alleged that Musharraf was attempting to force the PPP into an alliance with PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Zardari noted that ISI was not honest with him on the components of the new South Waziristan “peace deal,” which he has now told Interior Minister Rehman Malik to delay. Zardari also alleged that Musharraf is still holding some corruption cases over his head. Zardari concluded “I am Musharraf's lifeline, but he just doesn't get it.”
6. (C) Alarmingly, Zardari noted his personal security was inadequate and wondered why there were no threats against Nawaz Sharif. Zardari had “his own boys” around the house but he could not continue to pay them their modest salaries much longer. In a comment that may not bode well for the future, Zardari said flatly that he was broke, with high expenses and almost no income. He asked for USG help with security.
7. (C) Ambassador said it made absolutely no sense for Musharraf to try and undermine Zardari and she did not believe it. But she supposed no one could rule out rogue elements in the intelligence agencies and misguided PML supporters. Zardari said (for the first time) that “Musharraf must eventually go.”
Controlling the Former Chief Justice ------------------------------------
8. (C) Zardari then candidly outlined his reasons for his determination to curtail the powers of the former Chief Justice: (1) If the former Chief Justice ousted Musharraf, there would be the vexing question of who should become President; a debate on a new president was not in his interest; (2) Zardari is still worried about the court's overturning the National Reconciliation Ordinance which granted him and others immunity from prosecution; Zardari noted there were still some cases pending against him. He thinks he can resolve this issue in the package of constitutional reforms; (3) Zardari said that, for family reasons, he does not want to become Prime Minister right now, but he did not rule out taking the job in the next five years. He is concerned that, if restored, the former Chief Justice would not only declare Musharraf ineligible to be President but would absolve Nawaz of corruption charges and thus pave the way for Nawaz to run for parliament (a necessary requirement to be Prime Minister). At this point, he does not think Nawaz has the two/thirds majority required to overturn the two-term limit on prime ministers. To block Nawaz's chances, Zardari said he was going to try to get the June 18 parliamentary by-elections delayed.