ID:87890 3/12/2006 06:38 Embassy Kabul    CONFIDENTIAL    06KABUL5625

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2016 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, ASEC, MARR, AF, PK, MOPS SUBJECT: PAKISTAN AMBASSADOR QUESTIONS JIRGAS

REF: A. KABUL 5625

B. KABUL 5569 C. STATE 193719

Classified By: Ambassador Ronald Neumann for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY: During November 28-29 meetings with the  Ambassador, Pakistan Ambassador to Afganistan Sardar Tariq  Azizuddin, noting that he was speaking personally without  instructions, raised fundamental questions on the meaning and  purpose of the cross-border jirgas.  Searching for possible  alternatives to the concept agreed to in Washington, at one  point, Azzizuddin even proposed that the GOA hold its own  jirga with the Taliban.  His other "personal" proposal was  that, instead of a large national jirga, the two sides should  hold small tribal assemblies to test the waters.  The  Ambassador suggested that Pakistan not get hung up on the  terminology or the venue but rather focus on the shared aim  of dealing with the common threat (the Taliban).  His message  was that there should be no power sharing with the Taliban,  the jirgas should not contravene the state or constitution,  and that the two sides needed to work directly together as  soon as possible to avoid locked in positions.  Azizuddin was  greatly surprised to learn that the UNAMA-delivered paper on  the jirgas was not from the GOA but was UNAMA's  interpretation of Afghanistan's views on the proposal. Azizuddin layed out the format for the planned December 7  Foreign Ministers' meeting, which will feature a two-hour  bilateral meeting between the Foreign Ministers, followed by  a longer meeting with President Karzai.  Azizuddin went out  of his way to stress the importance the GOP sees in close  consultations with the U.S. and hoped the December 7 meetings  would be productive. END SUMMARY

2.  (C) Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan, Sardar Tariq  Azizuddin, requested an urgent meeting with the Ambassador  November 28, who subsequently also agreed to a follow-up  meeting on November 29.  Azizuddin did not indicate he was  acting on instructions from Islamabad, but rather  characterized his concerns as ‘personal questions.’

What is this Jirga Thing About? -------------------------------

3.  (C) During the November 28 meeting, Ambassador Azizuddin  characterized the proposed Afghanistan-Pakistan jirga as a  Washington process and asked a number of questions about the  origin of the proposal, the intent, and how it will play out.

Again, reiterating that it was a ‘personal point of  interest’ he wanted to know how fully President Karzai had  explained the jirga concept to President Bush.  He asked,  perhaps rhethorically, why the other mechanisms that ‘civilized nations have for political engagement’ (i.e.,  Parliament and diplomats) were not suggested and asked the  Ambassador whether the proposal was ‘impulsive’ or well  thought out.

4.  (C) While acknowledging that President Musharraf had  agreed to the proposal in ‘good faith,’ Azizuddin restated  familiar objections that the jirgas are not a Pakistani  tradition, but specifically a Pashtun tradition, whereas in  Afghanistan they are codified in the Constitution.  This led  him to three additional questions:  1) jirgas are conducted  in Pashto, which Musharraf does not speak so how can there be  a real dialogue?  When Musharraf meets tribal representatives  in Peshawar, they speak to him in Urdu and he responds in  Urdu;  2) this kind of cross-border jirga is unprecedented,  so what are the two sides going to do?  Will they admit  publicly that normal political and diplomatic channels have  failed?  3) What are the major problems that bedevil  Afghanistan?  Are Taliban the major problem?

Then Why Not Invite the Taliban -------------------------------

5. (C) Finally, Azizuddin came right out and asked whether it  wouldn,t be possible for Afghanistan to hold its own jirga  and invite the Taliban.  The Ambassador rejected this  suggestion, saying that while it was possible to discuss  reconciliation of Taliban members with the current government  system, and mechanisms for doing so already existed, it would  not be possible to reopen negotiations with a fanatical  organization seeking to reimpose its totalitarian ideology on  Afghanistan.  It would be very destabilizing for Afghanistan  to suggest that the Bonn and London agreements could be  reopened.  There can be no suggestion of a role for the  Taliban in power, as this would result in a catastrophic  undermining of confidence in the Afghan government.

Get Past the Term "Jirga" -------------------------

6.  (C) The Ambassador urge Azizuddin to put aside, for a  moment, the term jirga and focus on the practical aspects of  the problem.  An agreement had been made between three heads  of state for a dialogue.  There is a problem that both the  Pakistani and Afghan sides face, a common menace in the  Taliban.  What do the two parties want to achieve and how can  they do that?  That, said the Ambassador, is the discussion  that needs to occur between the two sides and there is not  much the US can do to be helpful until the conversation takes  place.  Azizuddin demured that it would be impossible to do  when the two sides were so far apart and suggested that all  the two sides could do at this point would be to cast blame  on each other.  He did note that the Pakistani FM would be in  Afghanistan on December 7 for discussions on the jirga but  offered no insight into either his agenda or approach, nor  did he seem to know.

U.S. Bottom Line: No Power Sharing With the Taliban and Watch  Cross-Border Activity --------------------------------------------- -------

7.  (C) The Ambassador reiterated that there can be no power  sharing with the Taliban.  The war against the Taliban has to  be won.  Azizuddin complained that the Afghans want the  Pakistanis to keep the Afghan refugees (who he earlier  described as the ‘scum’ of Afghan society) indefinitely,  which would be destabilizing for Pakistan.  The Ambassador  reminded Azizuddin that these same people had twice tried to  kill his president and suggested that the GOP should take a  firm line.  ‘How long will the 38 nations engaged in a war  employ restraint in the face of escalating cross-border  provocations?’

Can Jirgas Really Be the Solution? ----------------------------------

8.  (C) Azizuddin returned to the Embassy November 29 for a  follow-up meeting and continued similar themes from the  previous day, this time accompanied by his DCM Asif Durrani. Following a brief discussion of the London Telegraph article  reported in ref A, Azizuddin reiterated that he had not come  under instructions from his government but was speaking out  of personal interest.  He reminded us of Pakistan,s support  for Afghanistan against the Soviets and that the Pakistani  people held a vast amount of goodwill toward the Afghans.  He  said everyone was looking for solutions to the border issue  and asked the Ambassador how he saw the jirga as a solution.

9.  (C) The Ambassador responded that the jirgas had a  strategic purpose, i.e., if they could be kept in the simple  mode of enabling tribal leaders to take unified positions  against extremism in support of government, that would be a  positive outcome.  He cautioned that the jirgas should not be  characterized as contravening the Afghan state structure,  noting that there was some nervousness among Uzbeks, Hazaras,  and others that the jirgas could lead to a reversing of the  constitutional process.  He told Azizuddin that the U.S. had  been urging the GOA to work directly with GOP counterparts to  avoid each side locking in positions which could endanger  flexibility down the road.

10.  (C) Azizuddin wondered if the Ministry of Tribal Affairs was not a better vehicle for advancing cross-border  inter-tribal relations.  Ambassador explained that the  Ministry had been gutted, which was not necessarily a bad  thing.  Both Ambassadors agreed that the tribal structure had  been weakened and fragmented over time, although Ambassador  Neumann disagreed with Azizuddin's assertion that there was a  collective radicalization of the tribes, since, for example,  not all Pashtuns were Taliban.

11.  (C) Azizuddin suggested that “rather than go headlong  into a joint jirga assembly", another view in Pakistan sees  smaller assemblies as more practical, as they could (a) test  the waters and (b) avoid raising expectations by getting  right down to working at the tribal level in the border  areas.  Azizuddin saw this approach as having a domino effect  that would generate "similarities of interest".  He continued  that once both sides had sharpened the process, then the two  could meet in a larger assembly to ‘commemorate’ their  respective achievements. Azizuddin stressed that this was  his personal idea.

12.  (C) The Ambassador commented that the Afghan side might  have two possible reactions to this proposal.  First, the GOA  would be concerned about timing and might see this approach  as drifting the process out too long.  Second, the Afghans  will not want to go to a purely tribal jirga format and will  continue to seek a national structure which can satisfy  Parliament and other civil society elements to demonstrate  that this is not just a Pashtun issue.

UNAMA Paper and Role in Jirgas: Not A GOA Paper? --------------------------------------------- ---

13.  (C) Azizuddin asked for the Ambassador,s view on the  UNAMA paper which Azizuddin understood (until this meeting) to have come from the GOA via UNAMA.  The Ambassador  explained that the paper was a UNAMA interpretation of GOA  views on the jirgas, not a GOA paper (ref B).  Azizuddin was  genuinely surprised by this news, as he had understood that  UNAMA had presented it as ‘an Afghan paper being given to  you on behalf of the GOA’.  The Ambassador advised Azizuddin  not to treat the paper as a formal document requiring a  formal response.  He said that both Karzai and UNAMA have  confirmed that the paper has no official status and suggested  that it would be useful for the GOP to accept this view.

14.  (C) Azizuddin asked about the role of UNAMA in the  jirgas and wondered if UNAMA was not exceeding its mandate. The Ambassador responded that a more careful discussion with  the GOA on what precise role UNAMA and other entities should  play would be constructive.

Foreign Ministers to Discuss Details December 7 --------------------------------------------- --

15.  (C) Azizuddin recounted GOP surprise at the way in which  jirga preparations had proceeded.  He said that no official  channels had been used.  At their last meeting with President  Karzai, the latter only said that the two Foreign Ministers  should sit down and discuss modalities.  Now, FM Kusuri would  be coming to Kabul on December 7 to go over modalities, the  timeline for moving forward, and other preparations. Azizuddin stressed that the GOP did not want this process to  preclude the use of normal diplomatic bilateral channels. Azizuddin then layed out the format for the December 7  meeting, which will feature a two-hour bilateral meeting  between the Foreign Ministers, followed by a longer meeting  with President Karzai.  Azizuddin went out of his way to  stress the importance the GOP sees in close consultations  with the U.S. and hoped he could report that the December 7  meetings would be productive.

Pakistan Jirga Team Not Chosen Yet ----------------------------------

16.  (C) Azizuddin reported that Farouk Wardak, the GOA jirga  planning committee Secretary General, recently called him  seeking the names of the jirga planning committee members on  the Pakistan side.  (Note: GOA planning document prepared by  Wadak's office e-mailed to SCA/A and Islamabad. End Note) Azizuddin responded that the GOP had not chosen names yet, as  the issue was still sensitive and politically charged in  Pakistan.  Parliamentarians were arguing that, as  representatives of the Pakistani people, they should  participate.  Many will resent the participation of others if  Parliament is excluded, Azizuddin explained.

Moving Forward --------------

17.  (C) The Ambassador suggested that all of Azizuddin's  questions should be put to the Afghans directly, as they were  only thinking conceptually at this stage.  He offered that  the two countries' state structures did not mesh, which meant  that both sides would need to bring maximum flexibility to  the table.  The Ambassador further suggested that the two  Foreign Ministers focus on areas on which the two sides could  agree, -- e.g., on such points as the jirgas will produce no  legally binding agreements and the structures will not  displace normal bilateral relations but rather complement  them )- in order to narrow differences for future meetings.

18.  (C) Azizuddin expressed "Pakistani nervousness in some  quarters” that, since the jirga proposal had the ‘moral  authority and weight’ of President Bush, he was expecting  quick timelines and results.  The Ambassador reminded  Azizuddin that President Bush did endorse the agreement and  that it would be hard now to walk away from the concept.  He  explained that it was not a concept that the U.S. put on the  table, but one that we endorsed.  Azizuddin reassured us that  Foreign Minister Kasuri would bring much sincerity and  goodwill to his meeting on December 7 and reiterated that  both Pakistanis and Afghans shared these sentiments in vast  quantities.

19.  (C) COMMENT: It is unclear if Azizuddin came to the  meeting uninstructed and whether his proposal for a lesser  jirga was not a trial balloon being floated by Islamabad. What is clear is that both sides have miles to go -- both in  terms of direct outreach and greater accommodation to the  constitutional and institutional biases that each brings to  the table )- before they can start addressing the common  threat facing both countries on the border.  As instructed in  ref C, we will urge the GOA to use its December 7-9 meetings  with FM Kasuri in Kabul to move things in the right direction. NEUMANN "