139894            2/4/2008 12:55            08ISLAMABAD505   Embassy Islamabad      CONFIDENTIAL            08ISLAMABAD505   "VZCZCXRO8836

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SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PK

SUBJECT: AMIN FAHEEM: SINCERE BUT UNPREPARED TO BE PRIME

MINISTER

 

Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)

 

1.  (C) Summary.  Ambassador met January 31 with Amin Faheem, the Pakistan People's Party Vice-Chairman, who confirmed the party will not decide on a candidate for Prime Minister until after the February 18 elections.  Faheem continues to remain open to working in a coalition with Musharraf's party (and others) and saw no reason to impeach Musahrraf for his activities during the state of emergency.  With no personal security and no plans to campaign on a national level, Faheem's self-effacing sincerity makes him an unconvincing candidate for Prime Minister.  End summary.

2.  (C)  Ambassador and Polcouns met January 31 with Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Vice Chairman Amin Faheem at the Islamabad home of Air Vice Marshall Rahim Yousefzi (ret). Faheem said he was recovering from the flu and continued to feel the after-effects of being in the car with Benazir Bhutto when she was assassinated on December 27.  He has trouble hearing in his left ear and continued pain in his chest and shoulder from the effect of the blast.

Election Fraud

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3. (C) Faheem and Yousefzi recounted several continuing PPP allegations of vote rigging.  They claimed the nazims (mayors) are disbursing money and controlling the police who will be assigned law and order duties on election day.  This will be a problem if there is a ""tussle"" where political party polling agents disagree on results and the police are not impartial arbitrators.  Faheem supported PPP calls for deploying the Army at polling stations on election day.

Security

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4.  (C)  In response to Ambassador's concern, Faheem said he has no personal security.  The PPP insisted he now use a driver, but he has no armored car and no bodyguards.  The GOP has provided PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari with two police car escorts.  The PPP will begin campaigning again (post Muharram) and will divide up responsibilities across the country.  Faheem will campaign in Sindh, where he says he has security protection from a supportive constituency.

 

Electoral Prospects

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5.  (C)  Faheem predicted the PPP will do well in Sindh and would sweep the country if the elections were free and fair. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz will do well in central Punjab and Lahore, but Pervaiz Elahi's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) will do well in Punjab as well.  Support for the PML has declined because of power outages and rising flour prices.

Post Election

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6.  (C)  Confirming other reports, Faheem said that the PPP Central Executive Committee will decide the party's candidate for Prime Minister.  This will not occur until after the election.

7.  (C)  Faheem said his goals are to focus on fighting terrorism, improving the economy and tacking the law and order problem  For this, Pakistan needs a national unity government.  He is prepared to work with PML, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and Nawaz Sharif.  Faheem does not want to see post-election violence and thinks the PPP can work with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Fazlur Rehman to counter extremist threats.  Benazir Bhutto had worked with Fazlur before because he is a pragmatist.  Yousefzi was more derisive, saying Fazlur works with everyone for a price.

8. (C)  Saying he had met with Musharraf and found him sincere, Faheem said he saw no need for a post-election effort to impeach Musharraf because of his actions during the state of emergency.  On the National Reconciliation Order which reportedly expires on February 4, Faheem said there were differing legal opinions on its continued validity.

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Personally, he did not want to fight PML and MQM after the elections.  It was time to work for the future.  Again, Yousefzi was more critical, citing Musharraf's continued support for the rule of ""radical mullahs"" in the Northwest Frontier Province and the lack of a GOP strategy for countering a growing extremist militancy.

9.  (C)  Comment: Faheem continues to leave the impression of being mild-mannered, sincere and unprepared for being Prime Minister.  He is not even attempting to campaign on a national basis, has no security, and is taking a very gentlemanly approach to growing challenges within the PPP to his nomination as Prime Minister.  If the PPP wins and he becomes Prime Minister, it is likely that Faheem will be taking orders behind the scenes from the more assertive and focused Asif Zardari.

 

PATTERSON

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