57538  3/22/2006 5:59            06ISLAMABAD4767 Embassy Islamabad      SECRET                      "VZCZCXRO7432

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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY"         "S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 004767

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2021

TAGS: PGOV, PTER, MOPS, PK

SUBJECT: ANP AND PPP MOVING TOWARDS ACCOMMODATION WITH THE

GOVERNMENT

ISLAMABAD 00004767  001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: Derived from DSCG 05-01, d.

 

1.  (S) Summary:  In recent separate meetings, Awami National Party (ANP) Chairman Senator Asfandyar Wali Khan and Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim delivered closely coordinated messages to the Embassy. Both leaders were prepared to support an alliance of “liberal” forces under Musharraf, as their parties and the ruling party would face a common enemy in the 2007 elections -- the Islamists.  If this were not possible, the parties would accept a post-electoral alliance.  The ANP and PPPP were prepared to cooperate with the GOP on the Global War on Terrorism and its concept of “enlightened moderation.” Asfandyar, however, made several suggestions to improve GOP performance in this area, including: transfer of intelligence personnel previously involved in supporting the Taliban, increased emphasis on economic/social development and political reform in FATA, and closer coordination between liberal parties and the GOP in pursuit of extremist/terrorist elements.  End Summary.

Awami National Party

--------------------

2. (C) In a March 17 meeting with the Ambassador, ANP Chairman Senator Asfandyar Wali Khan stated that following extensive discussions the ANP had finally arrived at a common understanding with the GOP.  Asfandyar's call followed immediately from his first meeting with President Musharraf since the 2002 elections.  According to Asfandyar, the two leaders agreed that they shared a common vision to promote a moderate, democratic Pakistan and a common goal of defeating terrorist and extremist elements.  Asfandyar promised his party's cooperation in the GOP's efforts to track and apprehend terrorists in FATA and NWFP and agreed to share any information that his party developed on their whereabouts. Asfandyar sought an electoral understanding for 2007 with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and other like-minded parties, including the PPPP, in which they would support common candidates in order to minimize the success of Islamist parties.  Asfandyar indicated that Musharraf was receptive but non-commital.  Asfandyar made clear that, absent such an agreement, his party would still offer its support to GOP counterterrorism efforts and would participate in a post-election coalition government.  Asfandyar seemed relatively convinced that the ANP would be given a fair chance during the 2007 elections following his discussions with Musharraf.

3. (S) While Asfandyar termed his meeting with Musharraf “positive,” he shared a number of concerns about the GOP's counterterrorism efforts.  Asfandyar maintained that, although the leadership of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) was committed to tracking and apprehending al-Qaida and former Taliban, its on-the-ground operatives were not.  Many had previously supported these elements and had personal connections that have led them to defy

Musharraf's policy.  To overcome this problem, Asfandyar recommended the immediate transfer of all ISI agents from FATA that had previously worked with the Taliban and mujahideen.  Asfandyar argued that increased emphasis needed to be placed on social and economic development in the FATA as a complement to military/law enforcement efforts.  He praised the new GOP development plan and stated that he was providing Musharraf a copy of his party's own plan so that the two could be merged. Asfandyar asserted that political reform was necessary in the FATA.  Immediate progress could be made in all agencies, save North and South Waziristan, where extremists groups had a stranglehold on local politics. As a first step, administration should be shifted from the federal to the NWFP provincial government, thereby building political ties between the agencies and the NWFP.  Asfandyar claimed to have pressed Musharraf for closer cooperation with his party as it pursued terrorists in the FATA.  He cited several cases in which local leaders from the ANP had been erroneously arrested and interrogated for alleged links to extremists.

 

Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians

5. (C) In a separate meeting the same evening with poloff, PPPP Chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim raised many of the same points, including the need for an electoral understanding with ANP and PML and the PPPP's willingness to participate in a coalition government.  Fahim again pressed for a resumption of serious negotiations between the PPPP and the government, lamenting the fact that his party had not been included in the ANP meetings.  According to Fahim, the PPPP is willing to negotiate all issues, including the future status of Benazir Bhutto, in pursuit of a common pre-election understanding and would not/not insist on her candidacy in the 2007 National Assembly elections.  He also expressed a strong desire to move quickly to bring together leaders of all parties to negotiate and implement changes in the election law.  Fahim stressed that the recent meeting between Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahbaz Sharif in Dubai was “meaningless.”  The PPPP wants to keep its alliance with the PML-N only long enough to recapture the opposition leader job in the Senate for Raza Rabbani.  After that, the PML-N can be easily abandoned.  Fahim emphasized that most of those remaining in the PML-N were neither democrats nor liberals, making the PML-N's participation in any common understanding problematic.

Comment

6. (C) Post believes that the ANP and the PPPP had coordinated their messages and are serious about their shared desire to build a pre-election coalition of like-minded moderate parties, including the PML.  Both recognize that a united opposition which includes the Islamists is contrary to their political goals and will ultimately weaken their parties.  With Fahim's statement that the PPPP is prepared to consider a non-elected role for Bhutto (at least until the National Assembly elections are over), the “like-minded coalition” may well be achievable.  The ANP's decision to cooperate actively with the GOP in counterterrorist operations in FATA and NWFP is important.  Its on-the-ground presence in these areas can help both to spur residents to increased cooperation and extend the government's information network in these critical areas.

7. (U) MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.

CROCKER