192895 2/19/2009 16:17 09ISLAMABAD365 Embassy Islamabad SECRET "VZCZCXRO7004
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2018
TAGS: PREL, PTER, PGOV, MOPS, MARR, EAID, PK
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR GENERAL KAYANI'S VISIT TO
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (S) Summary. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani's February 20-27 visit to Washington comes on the heels of the government's loss of control over Swat, continued Pakistani Army/Frontier Corps operations in the tribal areas, and still-simmering Indo-Pak tensions in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. We expect Kayani will request increased intelligence sharing (real-time SIGINT and ISR), help to modernize his helicopter fleet, increased support for civilian law enforcement, and financial compensation for Pakistanis displaced by combat. He likely will complain about delays in Coalition Support Fund payments, suggest that U.S. policy on strikes in the tribal areas be amended, and request information about plans for a U.S. troop surge in southern Afghanistan.
2. (C) We should recognize growing Pakistani casualties in the fight against militants, praise Kayani's support for the civilian democratic government in Islamabad, re-iterate the long-term U.S. commitment to support Pakistan, and thank him for agreeing to send his intelligence chief and director of military operations to the Holbrooke/Riedel U.S.-Pakistan strategic review meeting in Washington. We should also thank Kayani for the GOP's effort to ensure that U.S./NATO continues to deliver fuel and dry goods through Pakistan for our forces in Afghanistan.
3. (C) But we need to lay down a clear marker that Pakistan's Army/ISI must stop overt or tacit support for militant proxies (Haqqani network, Commander Nazir, Lashkar-e-Taiba). We should preface that conversation with an agreement to open a new page in relations; Kayani, who was ISI Chief from 2004-2007, does not want a reckoning with the past. Given the GOP surrender of Swat to local taliban, we need to press Kayani to commit his now reluctant Army to retake the area after the ""peace deal"" inevitably fails.
4. (C) We should press for Pakistani prosecution of the Mumbai suspects, encourage expanded USG training of Army and Frontier Corps forces, raise the prospect of embedding U.S. military observers/advisors with the Frontier Corps, support a prioritized needs-based FMF request that builds COIN capability, ask Kayani to explain how Pakistan plans to back U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, and probe for what Indian action would allow him to redeploy troops from his eastern front to support increased combat in the Pak-Afghan border area. Suggested talking points and bio are included at paras 28-30. End Summary.
Supporting Democratic Governance --------------------------------
5. (C) The civilian government headed by Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani, elected one year ago, is now stable. President Zardari's elected position is politically secure and Gilani has a majority in parliament. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and its coalition allies rule in three of the four provinces and effectively control all three branches of federal government. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif is by far the most popular politician in Pakistan (with an 83% approval rating compared to Zardari's 20% in the latest IRI poll), but he does not have the votes to bring down the government.
6. (C) Zardari is cementing leadership alliances so he can avoid another election until he receives international assistance to address food and fuel inflation, electricity blackouts and high unemployment. Pakistan has met its first-quarter targets under a $6.7 billion IMF Standby Agreement but the economy remains too weak to support the Pakistani military's appetite for expensive weapons systems (particular F-16s).
7. (C) President Zardari and Kayani are the key decision-makers in Pakistan; they have developed a respectful if not entirely trusting working relationship. Kayani has gone out of his way to publicly defer to Zardari because he needs political support to wage successful military
ISLAMABAD 00000365 002 OF 006 operations. After eight years of military rule under Musharraf, Zardari is re-shaping civilian-military relations in the shadow of Pakistan's history of repeated military coups. It is in USG interests for the Zardari/Gilani government to complete its full five-year term, and we should praise Kayani's efforts to support civilian democracy.
8. (C) Kayani may advocate for pending legislation (Kerry-Lugar) in the U.S. Congress to triple non-military assistance to Pakistan and robust USG support for an IMF/World Bank Donors' Conference to provide $4 billion in social safety net programs to compensate for IMF-imposed budget cuts. We anticipate that Special Representative Holbrooke will attend a Donors' Conference in April. Kayani may request additional U.S. support for civilian law enforcement; in addition to the over $40 million of equipment and training delivered to the Frontier Corps, we are providing $15 million in additional equipment for the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) police and are working to re-program another $55 million in FY2009. There is a FY2009 supplemental request pending for another $95 million for the police. 9. (C) Kayani will request cash to assist more than 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled fighting in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Swat, NWFP. Through USAID, State/PRM and DOD, we already have provided over $10 million in assistance and are preparing to respond to new UNHCR/ICRC/World Food Program appeals for Pakistan. Of particular interest will be U.S. plans to continue/expand the delivery of $2 million in (CERP-like) assistance from DOD through the Frontier Corps to IDPs in support of Kayani's counter-insurgency strategy.
10. (C) Security concerns are limiting our ability to operate, but today USAID contractors are building schools and wells, hiring workers for short-term jobs, training teachers and increasing the capacity of the FATA Secretariat to deliver services that demonstrate the writ of government in FATA.
The Big Strategic Questions ---------------------------
11. (S) Zardari and Gilani agree that Pakistan's biggest threat comes from a growing militant insurgency on the Pak-Afghan border. The military and ISI have not yet made that leap; they still view India as their principle threat and Afghanistan as strategic depth in a possible conflict with India. They continue to provide overt or tacit support for proxy forces (including the Haqqani group, Commander Nazir, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, and Lashkar-e-Taiba) as a foreign policy tool.
12. (S) The single biggest message Kayani should hear in Washington is that this support must end. It is now counterproductive to Pakistan's own interests and directly conflicts with USG objectives in Afghanistan--where Haqqani is killing American soldiers and Afghan civilians--and the region--where Mumbai exposed the fruits of previous ISI policy to create Lashkar-e-Taiba and still threatens potential conflict between nuclear powers.
13. (S) Kayani will want to hear that the U.S. has turned the page on past ISI operations (he was ISI chief from 2004-2007). We should ask for his views on what political end state in Afghanistan would convince him to end proxy support for militants and probe for what would be required by India to allow him to redeploy forces from the Indian border for the fight in FATA. The reality is that, without a redeployment, he does not have the forces (however poorly trained) to combat the insurgency in FATA.
Pakistani Will. . . . ---------------------
14. (C) The good news is that the Army/Frontier Corps are engaged in combat in Bajaur and Mohmand, FATA. Zardari is committed to the fight; he knows that Osama bin Laden has publicly targeted Pakistan and admits ""the militants are
ISLAMABAD 00000365 003 OF 006 after me and my job."" The bad news is that the militants increasingly are setting the agenda.
15. (C) The government's anti-terrorism strategy is based on ""dialogue, deterrence and development;"" however, it lacks the military capacity to deter militants and the financial resources to develop the FATA and NWFP. Its historic fallback has been to play for time by conducting negotiations with militants, a disastrous tactic that only has made the extremists stronger. The government insists it will negotiate with tribal leaders but not with militants.
16. (C) However, in the latest agreement in Swat (once a tourist resort approximately 90 miles from Islamabad), the provincial government agreed to negotiate for peace in exchange for imposition of Shari'a law with the Taliban. This was recognition of de-facto Taliban control, which produced beheadings, closure of girls' schools, a growing exodus of terrified citizens, and the desertion of outgunned and outmanned police. Ham-handed military tactics, which included indiscriminate artillery bombardment, have further alienated a population that simply wants the fighting to end. Under international pressure, Zardari has not yet signed off on the deal pending assurances it really will deliver peace; a similar negotiation in 2008 failed.
17. (C) Kayani, who supported the Swat deal, will argue that he does not have the forces to battle on multiple fronts, so he is picking his battles and negotiating to preserve later options. We should push back hard, noting that it will be difficult for international donors to support a government that is not prepared to go all-out to defend its own territory.
. . .vs Capability ------------------
18. (S) Now absorbing combat losses against formidable militants, Pakistan's Frontier Corps (FC) and military finally have begun to accept more USG training and assistance in support of counter-insurgency (COIN). Kayani will appreciate U.S. recognition of the casualties his men have suffered, and this is an opening we should exploit to press for expanded FC and special forces (SSG) training. Kayani remains leery of too large a USG military footprint in Pakistan, but to win he must be able to fight without creating the level of civilian casualties his forces' blind artillery and F-16 bombardments are now producing. We are responding to Pakistan Air Force requests for Close Air Support training to improve the precision of F-16s they are using in FATA. We should probe for the possible introduction of U.S. military observers/advisors to improve the COIN capability of this 1940's force.
19. (S) Kayani will repeat his requests for increased intelligence sharing, notably SIGINT, in support of ongoing military operations in FATA. Pakistan has agreed to build additional tripartite Border Coordination Centers (BCCs), and this month we will expand real-time tactical/target-focused intelligence sharing through the Torkham BCC. We continue to work on delivering Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aerial capability (two B350-ERs) that Kayani has raised with all his high-level visitors.
20. (C) The Bush administration's commitment to provide Pakistan with $300 million annually in FMF expires in 2009, and we need to come to agreement with Pakistan on how to restructure its FMF program to meet its long-term COIN needs. The Pakistan military has requested $1B per year for five years (FY10-14) in FMF.
21. (C) Kayani may request additional U.S. support for Pakistan's F-16 program, the flagship symbol of post-9/11 re-engagement. We are about to send to Congress notification for an additional $142 million in FMF support for one part of this complex program. But we do not believe Pakistan can afford to complete a $2 billion plus program to buy 18 new F-16s, upgrade 35 older aircraft, upgrade a new base, and fund a munitions package. Given the funding and production
ISLAMABAD 00000365 004 OF 006 line implications of either bailing out the GOP or canceling the program, U.S. agencies are reviewing our options.
22. (C) We could not agree more with Kayani on the need to modernize Pakistan's helicopter fleet; on any given day, they have perhaps 2-3 attack helos flying in support of COIN operations. We now are delivering spare parts for their Cobra and Bell 412s, overhauling and upgrading their MI-17s, and assessing ways to improve overall helicopter maintenance.
U.S. Strikes ------------
23. (S) As recent media reports indicate, the U.S. has eliminated 10 of the top 20 al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan over the last year. However, the strikes have put increasing political pressure on the Pakistani government, which has struggled to explain why it is allowing an ally to violate its sovereignty. The GOP so far has denied recent media reports alleging that the U.S. is launching the strikes from bases in Pakistan. Kayani knows full well that the strikes have been precise (creating few civilian casualties) and targeted primarily at foreign fighters in the Waziristans. He will argue, however, that they undermine his campaign plan, which is to keep the Waziristans quiet until the Army is capable of attacking Baitullah Mehsud and other militants entrenched there. In recent meetings with Special Representative Holbrooke, a variety of Pakistani interlocutors (and now the press) suggested that the U.S. work jointly with Pakistan and target Mehsud or other militants who are killing Pakistanis.
24. (C) Pakistan-NATO/Afghan cooperation and coordination across the border has improved dramatically in recent months. This includes exchanges of tactical intelligence that allows NATO forces to block passes in support of Pakistani operations and has helped lower attacks on U.S./NATO forces. In recent meetings with ISAF Commander McKiernan, Kayani raised concern about the effect of a U.S. troop build-up in southern Afghanistan, which could push militants and refugees across the border into Balochistan and prompt an influx of foreign fighters. Pakistan currently has only one Army brigade and perhaps 15 Frontier Corps wings stationed along the vast and largely unpopulated Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan.
25. (C) Following embarrassing militant attacks on U.S./NATO convoys last year, Pakistan has made efforts to secure Khyber Agency/Torkham Gate, through which U.S./NATO trucks deliver 30% of the fuel and 80% of the dry goods for our forces in Afghanistan. The troop surge will require us to send additional supplies through the Chaman (Balochistan) border crossing in Afghanistan; CENTCOM is now evaluating ways to improve delivery of supplies through Pakistan.
26. (C) Indo-Pak tensions are still simmering, but to avoid a potential Indian military strike, the GOP needs to continue to show progress on prosecuting those Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives responsible for the Mumbai attacks. India has welcomed the GOP decision to file formal charges against the key masterminds of Mumbai; Islamabad now awaits an Indian response to requests for additional information (forensics, ballistics reports, etc) from New Delhi to support prosecution.
27. (S) Although he has remained silent on the subject, Kayani does not support Zardari's statement last year to the Indian press that Pakistan would adopt a ""no first use"" policy on nuclear weapons. Despite increasing financial constraints, we believe that the military is proceeding with
ISLAMABAD 00000365 005 OF 006 an expansion of both its growing strategic weapons and missile programs. Pakistan's strategic assets are under the control of the secular military, which has implemented extensive physical, personnel and command and control safeguards. Our major concern has not been that an Islamic militant could steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in GOP facilities could gradually smuggle enough fissile material out to eventually make a weapon and the vulnerability of weapons in transit. Despite a court decision to ""free"" nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan, the GOP continues to assure us he remains under significant travel and media restrictions.
28. (S/Rel Pak) Suggested Talking Points:
-- (S/Rel Pak) What is in the past is behind us. What we seek going forward is an all-encompassing bilateral relationship based on what we can accomplish for the future. We recognize your sacrifices and are well-aware of the trust-deficit that exists on each side. We must both work to overcome it.
--(C/Rel Pak) We appreciate your efforts to support stable civilian democracy in Pakistan and are working to provide a democracy dividend that improves both economic conditions and the law and order situation.
-- (S/Rel Pak) We must succeed in Afghanistan. What is your vision for what constitutes an acceptable outcome?
-- (S/Rel Pak) We want more Pakistani forces deployed to the western border to fight the militants. What conditions are necessary for you to reposition forces from the eastern to the western border?
-- (S/Rel Pak) It is time to cut your ties to extremist groups/proxy forces and urge the permanent severing of ties. Such ties hinder trust and our ability to move forward together.
-- (S/Rel Pak) Our security relationship must move beyond the provision of equipment, and we seek opportunities to expand training throughout the military.
-- (S/Rel Pak) Our ability to deliver sustained security assistance also depends on the Administration securing Congressional approval. Congress is likely to prioritize assistance to counterinsurgency-related equipment and training, as well as align its support with Pakistani performance in the field.
-- (S/Rel Pak) Strikes in the FATA are succeeding in eliminating the enemy senior leadership and collateral damage has been minimal. We are working to provide you with tactical battlefield intelligence to support your operations in FATA.
Bio Notes ---------
29. (U) General Ashfaq Kayani was born in Punjab in 1952, grew up in a working-class family and is the son of a former junior officer. He was commissioned in the Pakistan Army after graduating from the Pakistan Military Academy in 1971. His long career has included command at every level from Company to Corps. He has served in key staff positions, to include Military Assistant to the Prime Minister under Benazir Bhutto from 1988-1990, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), 2000-2003, Director General, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) from 2004-2007, and Vice Chief of Army Staff in 2007. In November 2007, he became Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He is the only officer ever to have served as both DG-ISI and COAS. His term as DGMO coincided with the intense military standoff with India of 2001-2002.
30. (C) C) In interactions with post, Kayani is often direct, frank, and thoughtful. He has fond memories of his IMET training at Fort Leavenworth and values his personal relationships, particularly with U.S. military leaders. Kayani is married and the father of two children, a son and a
ISLAMABAD 00000365 006 OF 006 daughter. An avid golfer, he is President of the Pakistan Golf Association. He smokes heavily and can be difficult to understand as he tends to mumble.
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