ID: 213661 6/24/2009 7:42 Mission USNATO CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN USNATO 000274 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2019 TAGS: PREL, NATO, MOPS, MCAP, PK, AF
SUBJECT: PAKISTANI PRESIDENT ZARDARI MEETS THE NAC
USNATO 00000274 001.2 OF 003
Classified By: Charge John Heffern. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).
Zardari Claims Political Ownership of the War
(C/NF) In a June 17 meeting with NATO’s North Atlantic Council, Pakistani President Zardari used an emotional intervention to argue that his government, with the support of the population, had taken “political ownership” of the war against extremists in northwest Pakistan. He called terrorism the “war of our age,” but added that the international community had wasted eight years by attempting to combat violent extremism without engaging Pakistan’s public. While saying he was glad NATO was involved in Afghanistan, he stressed the need for NATO to respect Pakistani sovereignty. He said that Pakistani forces would have to fight the extremists, arguing that NATO forces were not properly trained to do so. He said that he was a willing participant in the war, but that he needed additional resources. He asked, for example, for “my own drones to fly under the Pakistani flag.”
Requests Financial and Development Assistance (C/NF) Zardari asked for financial and development assistance from NATO countries, adding with a rhetorical flourish that “you don’t have to love me as much as AIG, but love me closer to that.” He said that Pakistan was worse than underdeveloped: it was at war. He called on the international community to match the U.S. pledge of USD 2 billion per year, noting that Pakistan would probably require significant assistance for at least the next five to ten years. He also asked for access to western markets. Zardari made his case for this assistance through the colorful use of metaphors. Zardari compared Pakistan to a sick patient, arguing that--in the same way a doctor prepares the body to fight disease--the international community should strengthen the GOP so that it can fight the disease of extremism. He added “don’t give me the fish, teach me how to fish.”
Democracy is Necessary, but Not Sufficient (C/NF) Zardari repeatedly stressed the importance of democratic changes in Pakistan and asked for a commitment from Allies that they would not let a “dictator” take over the country again. At the same time, he argued that democracy alone would be insufficient for winning the war against the extremists.
PermReps Try to Engage... (C/NF) In their tour d’table, NATO PermReps expressed support for the GOP in its war against the extremists and expressed condolences for lives lost in Pakistan due to extremism. Turkish PermRep Ildem said Ankara was proud to have recently taken on the role of NATO Contact Point Embassy in Islamabad, adding that it supported enhanced NATO-Pakistan political engagement. Several Allies--including Ambassador Daalder, Canadian PermRep McRae, and Norwegian PermRep Traavik--asked what specific assistance NATO could provide, such as assets to help alleviate the current humanitarian crisis of Internally Displaced Persons who have left their homes due to the ongoing military operations. Spanish PermRep Miranda joined McRae in asking what could be done to improve the image of NATO in Pakistan and how NATO might help Zardari continue to build the political consensus he needs to combat extremism. UK PermRep Eldon asked what training NATO might be able to provide Pakistan and how Zardari’s government planned to follow military operations in the northwest with reconstruction and development efforts.
But Zardari Fails to Respond in Kind (C/NF) Zardari failed to answer most of these direct questions, reverting instead to continuous invocations of his late wife. At one point he said that it would take up to USD 2 to 3 billion to help displaced people return to their homes, adding “I have my hat off to ask the international community for financial support.” Zardari dwelled on “30 years of neglect,” blaming the international community for turning away from Pakistan. He repeatedly argued that his family had paid a heavy priced in the struggle for democratic change in Pakistan, particularly the assassination of his wife. Nevertheless, he said that his family would continue the struggle. In this regard, he noted that he had appointed his son to the chairmanship of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, even though previous chairmen had been assassinated.
Allies and the IS Reflect on the Visit (C/NF) When asked for his thoughts on the Zardari visit, the NATO International Staff action officer for Pakistan smiled and said that Zardari was certainly “theatrical.” He said that he regretted that Zardari seemed ill-prepared for his NATO meeting, focusing a disproportionate amount of his limited time on issues that were better suited for the UN or the EU. Allies had a similar view.