C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 001351
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2018
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, PK
SUBJECT: CODEL TIERNEY'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Peter Bodde, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (C) In a March 27 meeting with Codel Tierney, President
Musharraf praised newly elected Prime Minister Gillani, urged
the new government to make the transition from politics to
governance, and discussed efforts to combat extremism. End
2. (C) Codel Tierney (Representatives John Tierney, Keith
Ellison, Jim Moran, Betty McCollum, Maurice Hinchey, and
Barbara Cubin), accompanied by Charge and Polcouns met March
27 with President Pervez Musharraf. Also attending were
General Shaufkat and MFA Additional Secretary for Americas
3. (C) Congressman Tierney offered Musharraf
congratulations on the recent election and the way he
responded to it. The U.S. wanted to support the new
government and continue our mutually friendly relations.
Asked about the way forward, Musharraf described the
challenge of governing Pakistan with its multiple ethnic,
linguistic and religious forces that must be balanced.
Political stability was required to support economic growth
which, he said, was the basis for progress; the new
government must not allow politics to interfere with sound
economic management. Only "madmen" would think that the
government could increase subsidies for food and fuel, given
rising international commodity prices. The GOP's balance of
payment deficit is now at an unmanageable level and is
putting pressure on foreign reserves, explained Musharraf.
The answer was to increasing earnings from remittances (which
were growing but limited), exports, and investment. This,
said Musharraf, is where the U.S. can help by increasing
market access for Pakistani goods. He preferred trade to
aid, because trade encourages industrial development, creates
jobs and alleviates poverty.
4. (C) Musharraf said the new government was at a
crossroads between political activity and governance.
Political stability was crucial, said Musharraf, because if
the government fails there will be street protests that will
lead to another intervention by the Army. The good news from
the election was the defeat of the religious extremists. The
problem was that no one party controlled the government; the
coalition between the Pakistan People's Party and Nawaz
Sharif was one of the "oddest of bedfellows who hate each
other." Congressman Tierney noted that this provided
Musharraf with a role in mediating. Musharraf replied that
he would encourage a conciliatory vs. confrontation approach,
but he suspected that Nawaz would be confrontational.
Musharraf hoped the coalition partners would agree on what
was necessary to move forward on the economy.
5. (C) Newly elected Prime Minister Yousef Gillani, said
Musharraf "was a good man who will work well with me."
However, under the constitution, the President does not have
a role in governance. Musharraf explained that "There is no
sharing of power; the Prime Minister is the executive."
Musharraf said in the past few years that he stepped in to
offer advice after it was asked from the Prime Minister. "I
prefer to play tennis or golf," claimed Musharraf, but "I
will gladly help if asked." He noted that the new government
faced tough, unpopular decisions to raise commodity prices.
6. (C) Congressman Ellison asked about the role of the
police and judiciary in fighting terrorism. Musharraf noted
that the police were probably the most hated institution in
Pakistan, but they also had been on the front lines of recent
suicide bombings and were taking many causalities. In the
tribal areas, the police had been the first ones to bolt when
confronted; that is why, said Musharraf, it was necessary to
rely on the Frontier Corps and the Army. The GOP needed to
improve the professionalism of both the police and the
judiciary and would welcome U.S. assistance in that effort.
What was really needed to improve the fight against
terrorism, said Musharraf, was better intelligence
collection. "Suicide bombers are pawns; we need to find the
masterminds and the financiers and that requires better
intelligence." Musharraf noted that there was good and
improving U.S.-Pakistani intelligence cooperation.
7. (C) Congressman Tierney asked about the persistent
perception that ISI contributed to the problem of extremism.
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Musharraf said this perception was most unfortunate and
untrue. Saying that ISI was manned by disciplined military
officers, Musharraf noted there could be some lower level
sympathy for the Taliban but, as an institution, ISI was
committed to fighting the war on terror. "How could it be
otherwise -- ISI itself is being attacked by the militants."
Musharraf explained that previous GOP policy had been to
support the mujahideen/Taliban when Pakistan and the U.S.
were working to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. "Then,
the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan and left Pakistan to fend for
ourselves." In the following years, said Musharraf, al Qaeda
and the Taliban emerged. Pakistan supported the Taliban
initially, said Musharraf. "What else could we do? The
Northern Alliance was being supported by our enemies in India
and Russia." After 9/11, however, Musharraf insisted the
government changed course. He noted that ISI had been
revamped three times, so the old personnel who supported the
Taliban in the past were now gone.
8. (C) Congressman Moran asked about efforts to develop a
middle class and increase Pakistan's tax base. Musharraf
described the feudal and tribal societal barriers that made
this task difficult and said he decided to expand the tax
base rather than increase taxes. From 1947-2000, said
Musharraf, the GOP had collected 306 billion rupees in taxes;
from 2001-2007, it had collected one trillion rupees in
taxes. The tax/GDP ration, admitted Musharraf, was still not
good and should be improved.
9. (C) Congresswoman McCollum asked about education and
adult literacy programs. Musharraf responded that with
limited funds, he had had to prioritize expenditures and give
the most to development. He focused aid to education on
improving physical access to schools, vocational education
and higher education. There were, however, a growing number
of programs to provide adult education. The national
literacy rate was only 54%, which Musharraf described as
being too low.
10. (C) Congressman Hinchey thanked Musharraf for his
leadership, which enabled cooperation that benefited both the
U.S. and Pakistan. Asked about his views on regional efforts
to combat al Qaeda and the Taliban, Musharraf predicted there
would be success. He said that Afghanistan needs more and
stronger forces and economic development; he urged the U.S.
and NATO to continue and strengthen their efforts. Pakistan,
too, said Musharraf has to help on its side by reducing
extremism and Talibanization.
11. (C) On the al Qaeda front, Musharraf said thing were
going reasonably well. In Swat, he said the military had
successfully pushed militants back but had not yet caught
Maulana Fazlullah. There was not complicity on the
government's part, insisted Musharraf, in helping the
extremists. Musharraf hoped that with the new, moderate
provincial government in the Northwest Frontier Province,
there would be an opportunity to move forward on improved
security and economic development. He said he was grateful
for the USG's $150/year plan for providing assistance to the
tribal areas but had not seen much of the money as yet.
12. (C) On the political side, said Musharraf, the GOP was
now operating from a position of strength with the militants.
He admitted that the effort to negotiate a deal with
militants in Waziristan had failed, but said this does not
mean we should abandon negotiations altogether. Finally,
said Musharraf, was the issue of extremism in Pakistani
society. This is the fallout, he explained, from low
literacy and the dependence of the people on ignorant
mullahs. This must be deal with long-term through education,
a revised curriculum, and monitoring of the mosques,
madrassas and religious organizations. With a moderate
government, said Musharraf, we can succeed. Musharraf
questioned, however, whether Nawaz has a different agenda.
13. (C) Congresswoman Cubin thanked Musharraf for doing a
good job and noted it was easy to complain without full
knowledge of events on the ground. She congratulated
Musharraf for putting Pakistan first in his priorities.
14. (U) Codel Tierney has cleared on this message.
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