163593 7/25/2008 13:26 08ISLAMABAD2524 Embassy Islamabad SECRET//NOFORN "O 251326Z JUL 08 FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8040 INFO AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY CIA WASHDC PRIORITY" "S E C R E T ISLAMABAD 002524
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2018 TAGS: PREL, PTER, PGOV, PK
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR PM GILANI'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (S/NF) Summary. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani will be anxious to prove that he is committed to fighting ""Pakistan's war"" on terrorism and will outline the GOP's partial response to the July demands presented by CJCSMullen/DDCIA Kappes. Gilani will publicly support the coaliton's ""negotiations first"" counter-terrorism strategy and defend Pakistani sovereignty in the face of reported plans for unilateral U.S. action. Privately, he will agree that force is sometimes necessary and assert he is prepared to use it. However, coalition strains and governance gridlock are limiting Gilani's ability to coordinate either security or economic policy. He likely will repeat requests for ""actionable intelligence"" and suggest the need for increased U.S./ISAF operations on the Afghan side of the border. We should maintain pressure for specific counter-terrorism (CT) action and condition future Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance on Pakistani agreement to training that will increase its counter-insurgency capabilities.
2. (C/NF) Summary continued. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif has used his ""go Musharraf go"" campaign to become Pakistan's most popular leader today. To bolster his sagging Pakistan People's Party (PPP) popularity, PM Gilani may ask for quiet support of a dignified exit (resignation) for President Musharraf; in contrast, Musharraf has asked that we reaffirm U.S. support for him as President. Musharraf continues to debate dissolving the National Assembly, a step we believe will lead to widespread unrest and increase calls for his departure.
3. (C/NF) Summary continued. Gilani likely will ask for faster delivery of Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements, endorse the Biden/Lugar bill to double economic aid to Pakistan, and support passage of Reconstruction Opportunity Zone (ROZ) legislation. He will welcome offers of food security and energy assistance to help overcome rising food and fuel inflation and rolling power blackouts. He may ask for support to convince Riyadh to agree to Pakistan's request to defer $5.9 billion in oil payments. Gilani fully supports efforts to repair strained relations with Afghanistan and India. End Summary.
Filling a Leadership Vacuum ---------------------------
4. (C/NF) Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani is well-meaning,pro-American and anxious to convince us that he is committed to fighting ""Pakistan's war"" against terrorism. The challenge is turning good intentions into sustainable action. Gilani presides over a fragile coalition mired in governance gridlock over the issue of President Musharraf's future. The real centers of power -- PPP Co-Chair Asif Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif -- sit outside government fighting for political supremacy. Gilani supports what has been improving Ministry of Interior CT cooperation, but he has limited power to force the Army and the intelligence services (Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)) to battle a growing militant insurgency. His visit to the White House may well empower him to do more. With the withdrawal of Nawaz Sharif's economic ministers, the coalition lacks the expertise to tackle spiraling debt, food and fuel inflation, capital flight, and rolling blackouts.
5. (C/NF) Gilani will be seeking public assurances that the U.S. supports Pakistan's new civilian government, but the uneasy Zardari-Nawaz marriage of convenience may not last much longer. When the coalition breaks apart, Zardari will need to bolster his slim parliamentary majority with other partners. President Musharraf believes his party can be one of those partners, and we agree. But his ""go Musharraf go"" campaign has made Nawaz Sharif the most popular leader in Pakistan today. Zardari and Gilani fear they cannot politically afford to continue working with Musharraf and may raise this in Washington. In contrast, Musharraf has asked that the USG make it clear to Gilani that the U.S. continues to support him as President. Chief of Army Staff General Kayani prefers to remain out of politics, if for no other reason than a reluctance to take on twin security and economic crises. We believe he will support Musharraf's resignation with dignity, if the prospect of impeachment becomes real.
6. (C/NF) Musharraf continues to debate the possibility of dissolving the National Assembly and imposing a technocratic government; we believe this scenario will provoke unrest and increase calls for Musharraf's departure. We should support Gilani now and through a coalition breakup. Nawaz currently does not have the votes to bring down the coalition.
Fulfilling Promises -------------------
7. (S/NF) We have learned since 9/11 that Pakistan responds, periodically, to U.S. pressure on counter-terrorism; we should continue to press for action on specific agenda items. The GOP has responded to the CJCS Mullen/DDCIA Kappes visit in July by arresting several Taliban shura members in Quetta, signed an agreement to install cellphone towers in the tribal areas (FATA), is initiating an Army operation in North Waziristan, and we expect they will allow another B-300 surveillance aircraft to operate. These steps will help disrupt cross-border attacks and improve our intelligence capabilities.