ID: 217307

7/20/2009 10:46

Embassy Islamabad




E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/04/2019



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

1. (S//NF) Summary: In a series of meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and Minister of Interior Rehman Malik July 3, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano offered DHS assistance to enhance Pakistan's border security and sought GOP views on an arrangement under which DHS would provide the Government of Pakistan (GOB) with technology to access and analyze Advance Passenger Information (API) and passenger Name Record (PNR) data on passengers flying to and from Pakistan, in return for DHS getting access to the data. GOP officials were uniformly interested in assistance securing Pakistan's borders, with the President and Prime Minister also requesting additional financial support and greater market access to the United States for Pakistani goods. On API/PNR, Interior Minister Malik assured the Secretary privately that the GOP wanted to be helpful, but in the meeting with his subordinates asked for information on model agreements, legal frameworks and precedents the Ministry could use to persuade those in the GOP worried about privacy rights and possible legal challenges in the courts to API/PNR data sharing. The GOP agreed to host future DHS visitors to continue discussions on API/PNR and border security. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Ambassador, DHS U/S Rand Beers, and a DHS delegation met separately July 3 with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Zardari welcomed Secretary Napolitano's offer to work with the GOP on border security, adding that Pakistan needed help responding to the people's demands not only for security, but also for electricity and jobs. He said that greater access to the U.S. market for Pakistani textiles would result in a net increase of only $500 million in textile exports to the United States, but would generate 50-80,000 urgently needed jobs in Pakistan where he said unemployment is running 44 percent in some areas. Until Pakistan significantly raises citizens' per capita income (Note: Currently $1046. End Note), Zardari said that people will continue to be tempted into militancy. Improving education sufficiently to compete with that offered by madrassahs would cost $2 billion per year; Pakistan also needed help subsidizing the poorest of the poor and those displaced by the current fighting when they return home. Pakistan needed donors to expedite delivery of their Tokyo pledges.

3. (SBU) Zardari asked Secretary Napolitano to consider supplying scholarships in the U.S. to the “several hundred” family members of soldiers and police who die or are injured fighting terrorism and more U.S.-based training for the police. The U.S. used to be a more open society, he said, but now few people appreciate America's positive role. The Secretary agreed to look into the scholarship idea.

Border Security


4. (C) Zardari said the GOP needs technical assistance to secure the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and welcomed U.S. technology and training to upgrade GOP efforts. While the GOP tries to block the passes that terrorists use, routes used by normal citizens are less controlled; more and modern technology would help keep track of people in a way that does not disrupt trade. PM Gilani said the GOP is sending its best officials to administer newly-cleared areas such as Malakand, and that the GOP is recruiting ex-army officers on one-year contracts to meet the urgent need there for more police. But the GOP must provide new recruits with both equipment and training, as well as a package of incentives that includes life insurance and medical care. Gilani also requested budget support to help provide services and electricity in the tribal areas. Law and order are essential to building the Pakistani economy, Gilani said, and reiterated President Zardari's request for help regulating movement of people who now freely cross the Af-Pak border. Pakistan is essentially fighting two wars, Gilani said, one against militancy and the second directed at “hearts and minds” to show the people that the government is a better provider than the militants.

5. (C) Gilani and Malik both worried that more military action in Helmand province in Afghanistan will translate into more militants crossing into Pakistan. Malik said MOI has evidence that large numbers of foreign fighters are transiting Pakistan, and asked Secretary Napolitano to use her good offices with ISAF to help control the porous border.  Of the approximately 50,000 foreign fighters who came to the region in the 1980's during the war with the (then) USSR, some 10,000 have married locally and settled permanently in Pakistan. It is these men who made up the core group training local Taliban and who launched the attacks in Swat. Weapons are also flowing across the border in large numbers; MOI knows the routes and some of the traffickers, but needs resources to interdict them. The $5 billion/year drug trade is also cause for concern, Malik said, and traffickers make use of villages that lie half on each side of the Af-Pak border as easy transit routes. Secretary Napolitano said that DHS has expertise and experience, in particular from its work on the U.S. border with Mexico, and offered to send an assessment team to consult with the GOP on how DHS could be helpful at the borders.

Terrorist Travel


6. (S//NF) Zardari said that Pakistan is already sharing some individual passenger data on a case-by-case basis on flights to Europe, adding that, while he understood the United States wanted all data on all flights, Pakistan wanted non-stop flights by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to the United States. Secretary Napolitano responded that the United States now wishes to deal with non-stop flights separately from the issue of API/PNR data exchange, and explained that enhanced access to API/PNR data is of direct benefit to Pakistan as well as to the United States. Prime Minister Gilani echoed Zardari's comments on PNR, stating that, although the Interior Ministry is considering the U.S. request, to “do the whole world” will be difficult. To Gilani's statement that Pakistan had been promised non-stop flights in return for buying Boeing aircraft in 2004, Secretary Napolitano was clear that flights will be dealt with as a separate issue, not as an exchange. She promised, however, to work with Pakistan to “take a fresh look” at both non-stop flights and PNR, and said that DHS personnel could return to Pakistan to discuss these issues in detail soon.

7. (S//NF) Minister of Interior (MOI) Rehman Malik, accompanied by Secretary for the Interior Kemal Shah and Director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Tariq Khosa, told Secretary Napolitano that MOI had already submitted for legal review the possibility of sharing PNR data on passengers traveling to and from Pakistan to the U.S. and Canada. MOI is now awaiting the Law Committee's assessment of what repercussions might ensue from such an agreement, particularly if it was made broader than only North America: maintaining Pakistan's relationships with the airlines is a concern, as is the possibility of a legal challenge on privacy grounds by the activist Pakistani Supreme Court. It is also imperative that Pakistan not be perceived by the public as “working for America” on this, Malik said. (Note: The Pakistanis seemed not to be aware that DHS already gets API/PNR data on the PIA one-stop flight from Lahore via Manchester, U.K., to New York City and the PIA non-stop return flight from New York City to Lahore. End note.) U/S Beers explained that exchanging PNR data is not a one way street: Pakistan will get valuable information on individuals that might be of concern but of whom the GOP is not yet aware because no criminal charges have been brought. Malik stressed that MOI is “trying to do this,” and that Pakistan wants to be a part of working with the U.S. Government on PNR. But he urged Secretary Napolitano to share details of any legal arrangements or governing conventions (e.g., the Chicago Convention) so the GOP can see how other countries addressed these issues. The GOP is interested in a PNR proposal that minimizes criticism and legal problems with foreign airlines such as Emirates Airlines (based in Dubai, UAE), Malik said, but added that Pakistan will continue to provide information as requested on a case by case basis. The GOP will take these individual requests for information to the courts, if necessary, in order to respond to U.S. inquiries.



8. (S//NF) Both PM Gilani and Interior Minister Malik pointed out that the National Data Registration Agency (NADRA) already collects a wide spectrum of information on Pakistani citizens, from driving records to DNA. Malik offered to share NADRA-generated information on Pakistani citizens, within the constraints imposed by privacy concerns. NADRA is at the heart of what the GOP intends to be an integrated border management system, Malik said, and suggested that API/PNR sharing could be a subset of this larger system. The system is currently connected through passport data, but the GOP is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometrics system at the Chaman border crossing, where 30-35,000 people cross each day. Reiterating that he welcomed both USG assistance and the arrival of a DHS team to discuss PNR, Malik agreed to set up a joint U.S.-Pakistan task force to work out a way forward.


9. (S//NF) Comment: The Secretary's visit was an essential and well-received step to rebuild the trust between DHS and the GOP that will be necessary to reach an eventual deal on API/PNR. GOP officials are clearly concerned about the political fallout if any deal to share API/PNR data became public. Malik was direct in expressing his need for model agreements or other legal frameworks to help allay concerns of a politically embarrassing court challenge to API/PNR data sharing and the potential issues with airlines of third countries. While this information will no doubt be helpful, Post strongly recommends further political-level bridge building before we can effectively engage at the technical level. On senior officials' broad requests for more assistance on border security, we caution that the openness we regularly see in high-level meetings is often not followed through at the institutional level. Post will work with DHS, State, and DoD (all of whom are already working on border security and training issues) to target DHS assistance clearly so as to complement our existing security and training programs. End Comment.

10. (U) DHS U/S Rand Beers has cleared this message.