TEHRAN, March 11 (UPI) -- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari says a proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India would generate much-needed new jobs and economic development. Speaking Wednesday at the 10th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization in Tehran, Zardari called for the speedy implementation of the so-called Peace Pipeline, the state-run Iranian news agency IRNA reported. The proposed $7.5 billion, 1,500-mile pipeline would transport natural gas from Iran's Pars field through Pakistan to India. It is opposed by the United States, which says it would bind its key South Asian allies too closely to Iran, analysts say. In the speech, Zardari cited "deeply-rooted ties between Iran and Pakistan" and said the two nations "shared many historical common points," IRNA paraphrased. Zardari also urged ECO member states use the global economic crisis as an opportunity, saying Asia has the ability to rev up its economic engines to overcome the situation, the news agency said. REFERENCE: Zardari, in Iran, backs 'Peace Pipeline' Published: March. 11, 2009 at 9:41 AM http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/03/11/Zardari-in-Iran-backs-Peace-Pipeline/UPI-79371236778880/
TEHRAN Iran finalised a $7 billion “peace pipeline” deal on Sunday to export natural gas to Pakistan by 2015, Irans state television reported. “The deal was signed. Export of Irans gas to Pakistan will be launched by the end of 2015,” state TV reported. “For 25 years Iran will export one million cubic metres of natural gas to Pakistan per day,” it said. The project is crucial for Pakistan to avert a growing energy crisis already causing severe electricity shortages in the country of about 170 million, at the same time as it confronts Islamist militancy. Iran has the worlds second largest gas reserves after Russia but has struggled for years to develop its oil and gas resources. Iranian officials say the country needs $25 billion to develop its crucial energy industry. Sanctions by the West, political turmoil and construction delays have slowed Irans development as an exporter. The pipeline will connect Irans giant South Fars gas field with Pakistans southern Baluchistan and Sindh provinces. State television said the pipeline was 1,000 km (620 miles) long, with about 907 km of it already built. Dubbed the “peace pipeline,” the project has been planned since the 1990s and originally would have extended from Pakistan to its old rival, India. New Delhi has been reluctant to join the project because of its long-running distrust of Pakistan. Under a deal signed in March, Pakistan will be allowed to charge a transit fee if the proposed pipeline is eventually extended to India. The United States has tried to discourage India and Pakistan from any deal with Iran because of Tehrans disputed nuclear programme, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs. Iran, hit by a fourth round of UN sanctions on Wednesday over its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, denies any such ambitions. REFERENCE: Iran approves “peace pipeline” deal with Pakistan June 13, 2010 http://archives.dawn.com/archives/103343
Seymour Hersh- US is funding Al-Qaeda to counter Iran - 1
RICHARD Holbrook, US Special Envoy for Pakistan mandated to secure and promote US agenda in the region, is now a familiar figure with frequent visits to Islamabad. He has gradually become more intrusive in Pakistan politics and governance and consequently more unwelcome. Holbrook carries an unsavoury record and reputation for his diplomatic exploits in Latin America. During his recent call on Islamabad, Holbrook evinced deep interest in the energy requirements of Pakistan and offered $1billion to boost the energy sector, stating that “US is determined to support Pakistan for peace and stability, for fight against terrorism and for alleviation of poverty”.
The offer however is not an altruistic as Holbrook made it out. The severe energy crisis that Pakistan is facing today has had enormous negative impact on its economic development and political stability. The long power outages across the country has made it an issue of extreme volatility causing suffering in the daily life of Pakistani and putting Pakistan`s economic future in serious jeopardy . Pakistan`s energy requirements are increasing in geometrical ratio, and not only economic growth but political stability is directly linked with the availability of adequate energy resources. Pakistan initiated discussions with Iran in 1985 for construction of a natural gas pipeline linking Karachi with the South Pars natural gas field. The agreement called “peace pipeline” was signed by the president of Iran and Pakistan in Turkey on June 4, 2009, after considerable delay and lengthy negotiations, on price formula, security guarantee and transit royalties.
Iran has some 15.7 per cent of the world`s natural gas reserves, second only to Russia. Although its share in the global market does not reflect it, primarily due to US sanctions against Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1980. However, now Iran is following an aggressive export policy and it is expected that given the ever increasing demand for energy by China, India and Europe, Iran`s total gas export will reach $18 billion in 2025. The pipeline would run about 1,115 km in Iran, 705 km in Pakistan and 850 km in India, had it joined IPI. Total investment is estimated at $7.04 billion and may take 4-5 years for completion. The US has continued its opposition to the proposed pipeline and urged India and Pakistan to abandon the project and instead explore alternative sources, such as coal, wind or solar energy. Samuel Bodman, Energy Secretary under Bush administration conveyed US concerns “If IPI is allowed to be formed in our judgment, this will contribute to the development of nuclear weapons by Iran. We need to stop this”. The US has periodically conveyed its concerns at the highest level. This policy remains constant and now even more strident in the context of Iran nuclear standoff with US.
Despite the fact that energy needs of Pakistan are desperate and immediate, the US ignoring this consideration has mounted strong pressure on Pakistan to abandon Iran pipeline accord. Ambassador Holbrook in his discussion with Pakistani authorities assured them that the US was well aware of the energy crisis confronting Pakistan. He told them that if Pakistan foregoes the agreement providing gas import from Iran the US would help import electricity from Tajikistan through Afghanistan via Wakhan corridor. It would construct high voltage power transmission lines from Tajikistan to Pakistan. Holbrook assured that within the next four years US will assist another mega project in Pakistan costing 1 billion dollars. India was involved in the IPI project in the beginning but succumbed to the US pressure and opted out. Pakistan under the circumstances is not likely to resist any longer. The World Bank has also joined the US effort and warned Pakistan that major multilateral donors will stay away from the projects due to US opposition and hence the safe course for Pakistan would be to give up the project of Iran. It has instead proposed gas line project with Tajikistan known as TAPI.
TAPI is a 1680-km, 56-inch diameter gas pipeline starting from Dauletabad field in Turkmenistan to Fazilka at the Pakistan-India border, passing through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan and Multan in Pakistan. It is estimated that the pipeline will carry $3 to 5 trillion oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea basin via Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Two oil refineries and four thermal power houses, with a 1,000 MW capacity will also be built for shipment of gas to other Asian markets. Pakistan government has already awarded the contract for laying the TAPI gas pipeline project to US-based International Oil Company (IOC). The four nation — Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) pipeline — project is part of the grand US design to set up a regional power grid stretching from Almaty to New Delhi. Central Asia with abundance of existing and potential oil gas and electricity sources can meet the growing demands of South Asia and also advance regional economic development and integration.
Given the US strategic interest in TAPI investment problems associated with IPI are not likely to prove a hurdle. ADB has shown interest in funding the project and agreed to a comprehensive review of the feasibility study to invite foreign investment. The four partners have agreed to formulate a long term pricing mechanism and a draft of the gas sales and purchase agreement would be ready soon. The issues of payment of transit fees to Afghanistan and Pakistan taxation structure and consortium procedures will be finalised by the end year. The supply is to begin in 2015. While the prospects for TAPI appear bright, the challenges of security situation in Afghanistan and the state of relations between India and Pakistan put a question mark on the completion of the project within stipulated time frame. The open and determined US opposition to IP project makes it highly improbable that the project signed between Pakistan and Iran on June 4, 2009 could be implemented. The project is not likely to get any investors and hence the project appears to be still born. Pakistan and Iran have already signed the Gas Sales Purchase Agreement and the deadline for the submission of conditions precedents (CP) by Pakistan was September 5, 2009 which in view of the constraint explained above has been extended until this month. The prevailing circumstances leave little space for Pakistan and it may have to opt out of the agreement. The stakes for Pakistan are very high. Pakistan`s diplomacy is facing its severest test. The negative impact on our bilateral relations with Iran could be well imagined in the event of Pakistan`s withdrawal. Pakistan should continue meeting its obligations under IPI to protect its national interests and avoid friction with the United States. There are reports of China`s interest in IPI. Pakistan should simultaneously intensify its diplomatic efforts to bring China on board, which given the rising cost of fuel and galloping needs of Chinese burgeoning economy may not be difficult to achieve. This is no small consideration for the sort of influence Pakistan would gain in resisting US pressure vis-Ã -vis IPI should TAPI run into serious schedule delays due to volatile security situation in Afghanistan. The writher is a former ambassador. REFERENCE: Energy crisis & Pakistan`s dilemma By Tayyab Siddiqui February 7, 2010 http://archives.dawn.com/archives/152745
Seymour Hersh- US is funding Al-Qaeda to counter Iran - 2
WITH energy crisis feared to worsen next year because of the doubling of natural gas shortfalls, the only apparent hope to keep the economic engine running is the swift completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and import of liquefied natural gas. Over the next 20 years or so, the country is likely to depend primarily on timely realisation of these two projects. The country has already lost decades in development of cheap hydro and coal resources for power generation, resulting in the rising power rates and long hours of loadshedding. But the opposition to Iran-Pakistan pipeline has not died down. During the recent bilateral strategic dialogue concluded in Islamabad, the US officials clearly told Islamabad that Obama administration did not appreciate the gas import plan. They have tried to raise doubts over Iran`s reliability as a gas supplier and Tehran`s credibility not to seek tariff revisions after completion of the project. However they were surprised over the rates on which the two neighbourly countries have struck the deal.
At current oil prices, the Iranian gas is estimated to cost Pakistan around $9 per MMBTU (million British thermal unit) and the price is capped at a maximum of $100 a barrel. This could be used only for power production because of its comparatively higher rates when compared with domestic gas price of about $4.5 per MMBTU. While opposing the Iranian gas project, the US has not shown any interest in going deep into Sui field in Balochistan and in exploitation of over a trillion cubic feet of tight gas in small pockets across the country at economical rates. America is known to have made technological advancement for tapping such difficult resources. Pakistan had sought the US assistance for technical studies, surveys and latest production techniques to maximise domestic production of gas including from deep, shallow and tight horizons. This makes easier for Islamabad to resist the US pressure against Iranian gas project. It would be in the best interest of Iran and Pakistan to stick to the `peace pipeline` agreement, honour their mutual commitments and move swiftly to complete the multi-billion dollar project as early as possible.
The agreements entail first gas flows by end 2014 which could be advanced by one year if domestic gas companies – SNGPL and SSGCL – are engaged to construct about 750-kilometer of pipeline. More so, because they are well versed with the terrain, routes and other technical details inside their country`s borders, given their vast existing pipeline network – one of the world`s largest integrated transmission system. The two companies have indicated to complete the pipeline in 36 months compared with estimates of minimum 48 months, presented by a consultant who had been engaged without a transparent process as required under the public procurement rules. Simultaneously, the LNG import is the key to resolution of short-term energy needs. The prime minister has decided to go ahead with the contract finalised with 4Gas and GDF Suez for import of 3.5 million tons per annum (500 million cubic feet per day), on which a lot of time has been lost due to unnecessary litigations. At the same time, the prime minister has agreed to allow other firms to bring in additional quantities of LNG. The benchmark prices agreed for contracted project would, however, need to be kept in mind to ensure that energy costs remain within affordable limits.
Officials estimate that the gas shortfall is likely to almost double to more than two billion cubic feet a day (BCFD) even if the liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports planned over the next few months materialise. The most important thing is to put all resources and efforts together to expedite and enhance domestic oil and gas production. The OGDCL, the PPL and others have been sitting on vast hydrocarbon resources for decades because of bureaucratic wrangling and security reasons, which should end, given the increasing energy shortages. As of now, the gap between gas demand and supply stand at around one BCFD this year and the plan to import gas from Iran through a proposed pipeline would, at best, materialise in four to five years. The shortage of one BCFD this winter, would go up to 2.1 BCFD by next year. The demand and supply estimates suggest that the gas shortfalls would increase by more than 300 per cent to 6.5 BCFD by 2020.
The projections imply that while gas demand would maintain a steady increase over the next 10 years — from 4.8 BCFD now to 8.6 BCFD in 2020 — the supplies would register a further decline, from four BCFD this year to 2.11 BCFD by 2020. Over the next two years, however, the supplies would slightly increase by 0.5 BCFD because of LNG imports. The estimates suggest the shortfalls would increase despite a projected gas import through the IPI pipeline in 2014 and LNG imports next year because of the decrease in domestic production. These estimates indicate that shortfalls would be even higher if taken at the historic 6.5 per cent growth rate rather than 4.5 per cent assumed earlier. Many believe that the demand, supply and shortfall estimates were still conservative given the fact that these had been prepared keeping in mind the current downturn in economic activities. That would mean even higher reliance on imported fuels like diesel and furnace oil to meet electricity demand. The oil import bill last year stood at about $9.5 billion and is forecast to be around $11.6 billion this year. If the gas import pipeline is not completed, oil import bill could reach $15 billion in only two years. In the recent past, the previous government had planned five major initiatives to meet energy requirements, including three gas import pipelines, Gwadar port as an energy hub and LNG import. There has been no progress on these three pipeline projects, while building energy facilities at Gwadar has remained a pipe dream chiefly because of security situation. REFERENCE: Energy security options By Khaleeq Kiani June 21, 2010 http://archives.dawn.com/archives/15865
Seymour Hersh- US is funding Al-Qaeda to counter Iran - 3
KARACHI: A US State Department official in a meeting urged President Asif Ali Zardari against accepting Iran’s offer of concessional oil for Pakistan and providing Iran with a foothold in Pakistan, a ‘Secret’ American diplomatic cable made available to Dawn reveals. The meeting between Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia during the Bush administration, and President Zardari took place on October 18, 2008 at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, during which Mr Zardari apprised the visiting official of the Iranian offer that the President “did not believe he could refuse.” “How could he go to the National Assembly and tell them Iran had offered the assistance and Pakistan had turned it down, he asked rhetorically,” the then US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson wrote in the cable dated October 22, 2008, referring to President Zardari. She added that, “Boucher reminded him of Ambassador Haqqani’s recent conversation with Deputy Secretary Negroponte in which the Deputy cautioned against providing Iran with a toehold in Pakistan.” The cable illustrates how US officials tried influencing Pakistan’s policy not only with regard to Iran but also indicates how and with whom Pakistan had been dealing with at the time in order to meet its energy requirements. The American caution about Irani oil is consistent with the US government’s efforts to isolate Iran both militarily and economically. The oil offer was discussed months after Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had approved the revised gas purchase agreement between Islamabad and Tehran for the import of gas through the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline (formerly the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline). The US has continually expressed its reservations over the project from which India withdrew in 2008. REFERENCE: Don’t provide Iran with a foothold, US told Pak By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui | From the Newspaper (6 hours ago) Today http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/24/dont-provide-iran-with-a-foothold-us-told-pak.html
Seymour Hersh- US is funding Al-Qaeda to counter Iran - 4
Months after the talks with Mr Boucher, President Zardari, in a discussion with a Congressional delegation headed by US Senator Patrick Leahy, again referred to Iran’s offer to provide “oil, gas and electricity to Pakistan”, another cable dated May 26, 2009 by Ms Patterson detailing the meeting states. Mr Zardari told the delegation during the May 25, 2009 meeting that “Pakistan desperately needed energy resources” and that “no on else – especially the Saudis” was ready to help. However, in a possible attempt to please the delegation, he went on to say: “I need you more than anyone else, so I will take my cue from you. Perhaps now it will be possible to work with Iran on energy issues.” Interestingly, however, Ms Patterson noted in the cable that President Zardari asked for the “cue” a day after he and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had signed an inter-governmental framework declaration to support the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline agreement between the oil ministries of Pakistan and Iran. Moreover, around the time of the Boucher-Zardari meeting, along with pursuing the Iran gas pipeline project, Pakistan was in talks with the Chinese government over a deal to build two additional nuclear power plants for the country, once construction of the Chashma II reactor was completed. A contract to cooperate in building the two new nuclear reactors, commonly referred to as Chashma III and IV, at the Chashma atomic complex was eventually signed on June 8, 2010. The development occurred despite misgivings on part of the US and other governments which have every now and then stated that China should seek approval of the reactors from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to reduce nuclear proliferation and of which China is a member. On the other hand, the US government was almost simultaneously in touch with Saudi officials regarding Saudi-Pak negotiations to assist Pakistan “by deferring crude oil payments”, a previously published cable dated July 30, 2008 states. It further states that if the US government assessed that a “rapid implementation” of the Saudi offer was “critically important to the Pakistan government’s stability, it will likely take USG intervention at the highest levels with senior Saudi officials…to secure its rapid implementation.” REFERENCE: Cables referenced: WikiLeaks #174700, http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/24/2008-do-not-to-allow-iran-toehold-in-pakistan-us.html 208526, 164170 Don’t provide Iran with a foothold, US told Pak By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui | From the Newspaper (6 hours ago) Today http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/24/dont-provide-iran-with-a-foothold-us-told-pak.html
Seymour hersh and Scott Ritter on Iran 1-3
Seymour hersh and Scott Ritter on Iran 2-3
The arrest of Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi on Tuesday should have a positive impact on Iran-Pakistan relations. The terrorist leader and his deputy were arrested by Iranian security forces when a Bishkek-bound flight was diverted to Iran to catch a man whose organisation was responsible for a deadly terrorist attack last October that killed 35 civilians, besides seven revolutionary guards. While Tehran never really joined the `do more` chorus to pressure Islamabad for action against the plethora of banned — and not banned — militant outfits in this country, the Iranian government had serious reservations about the efficacy of Pakistan`s policy, especially with regard to the anti-Iran terrorists operating close to its border in Pakistani Balochistan. On a visit to this country following last October`s crime, Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar reportedly provided Islamabad with proof of Jundallah`s activities here and its use of Pakistani soil for acts of terrorism against his country. For its part, Islamabad was vocal in denying that Rigi was ever based in Pakistan. But the ease with which militants of various nationalities have operated in this country for years has given a hollow ring to official protestations. Look at the most recent example Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the Afghan Taliban`s top commanders, was arrested earlier this month in Karachi. He reportedly lived in Pakistan for several years and seemingly enjoyed the freedom to direct Taliban operations inside Afghanistan. Many people have aired suspicions that the so-called Quetta Shura leadership has started moving to the port city now. Against this backdrop, Jundallah`s claim that Pakistani intelligence helped in Rigi`s arrest should serve to remove some misunderstandings between Tehran and Islamabad. Additionally, along with Mullah Baradar`s arrest it may also mark a dramatically different, and welcome, approach by the Pakistani security set-up. REFERENCE: Jundallah chief`s arrest February 25, 2010 http://archives.dawn.com/archives/32473 Iran's Arrest of an Extremist Foe: Did Pakistan Help? By Ishaan Tharoor Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1968126,00.html
Seymour hersh and Scott Ritter on Iran 3-3
Annals of National Security - The Iran Plans Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? by Seymour M. Hersh April 17, 2006 The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium. American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred. There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ” REFERENCE: Annals of National Security - The Iran Plans Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? by Seymour M. Hersh April 17, 2006 http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/04/17/060417fa_fact Target Iran: Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh on White House Plans for Regime Change December 21, 2006 http://www.democracynow.org/2006/12/21/target_iran_former_un_weapons_inspector
Annals of National Security - The Coming Wars What the Pentagon can now do in secret. by Seymour M. Hersh January 24, 2005 George W. Bush’s reëlection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control—against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism—during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way. Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region. Bush’s reëlection is regarded within the Administration as evidence of America’s support for his decision to go to war. It has reaffirmed the position of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership who advocated the invasion, including Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Feith, the Under-secretary for Policy. According to a former high-level intelligence official, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after the election and told them, in essence, that the naysayers had been heard and the American people did not accept their message. Rumsfeld added that America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing. “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.” Bush and Cheney may have set the policy, but it is Rumsfeld who has directed its implementation and has absorbed much of the public criticism when things went wrong—whether it was prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib or lack of sufficient armor plating for G.I.s’ vehicles in Iraq. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have called for Rumsfeld’s dismissal, and he is not widely admired inside the military. Nonetheless, his reappointment as Defense Secretary was never in doubt. REFERENCE: Annals of National Security - The Coming Wars What the Pentagon can now do in secret. by Seymour M. Hersh January 24, 2005 http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/01/24/050124fa_fact Target Iran: Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh on White House Plans for Regime Change December 21, 2006 http://www.democracynow.org/2006/12/21/target_iran_former_un_weapons_inspector
2008: Do not to allow Iran toehold in Pakistan: US
174700 10/22/2008 8:58
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RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL” “S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 003339
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SUBJECT: ZARDARI EXPRESSES DELIGHT WITH CHINA VISIT, LOOKS
TO FRIENDS FOR HELP ON CHALLENGES
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S/NF) Summary: In a wide-ranging discussion with visiting SCA Assistant Secretary Boucher, President Zardari expressed complete satisfaction with his just concluded visit to China, reviewed planning for the Friends of Pakistan, and reiterated his determination to press the fight against extremism and the militancy in the tribal areas. He linked his ability to sustain the counter-insurgency fight to progress on addressing Pakistan,s economic woes, however, and chastised the IMF for only wanting to &take away8 in its negotiations. Zardari alerted Boucher to Iran’s offer of concessional oil for Pakistan, an offer he did not believe he could refuse. Boucher reminded him of the Deputy Secretary’s recent caution not to allow Iran to gain a toehold in Pakistan. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Visiting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher called on President Zardari at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, October 18. He was accompanied by the Ambassador, DCM (notetaker), and SCA Senior Advisor Hayden. Minister of Information Sherry Rehman joined Zardari.
3. (S/NF) Zardari told Boucher his visit to China was
&great.8 He confirmed that the Chinese had committed to building two additional nuclear power plants for Pakistan ) Chashma 3 and 4. He noted, however, that construction would not start until the completion of the Chashma 2 reactor, which he anticipated would require an additional five years. Commenting that the Chinese were providing only old technology, Zardari said that Pakistan had no choice but to accept &junk.8 Boucher told Zardari we would examine the implications of the new nuclear deal vis–vis the International Atomic Energy Agency and let the Pakistanis know if we anticipated any problems with the deal.
4. (S/NF) Zardari also told Boucher that the Chinese had committed to providing assistance to Pakistan,s security forces. Arguing that China was Pakistan,s only affordable option for needed security items, Zardari said the government plans to acquire armored vehicles, body armor, and small arms from China. The Chinese also plan to provide large scanners to Pakistan to help check the contents of trucks. Boucher and the Ambassador reminded Zardari that the U.S. is working with the Frontier Corps on a comprehensive train and equip program. (Comment: Embassy is preparing a letter to Zardari reviewing the details of the U.S. government’s extensive support to the Frontier Corps. End Comment)
5. (C) Although silent on the question of possible Chinese balance of payments support to Pakistan, Zardari lauded Chinese &out-of-box8 thinking about business investment in Pakistan. As an example, he described a project to build a dam that would irrigate land that Zardari would then grant to women, who would grow flowers on the land for export to the Emirates. The Chinese will manage the marketing for the
Friends of Pakistan
6. (C) Zardari confirmed that he wants to formally change the name of the group to Friends of Democratic Pakistan. In response to Boucher’s question about the Saudi position, he provided Boucher with a convoluted description of his discussions with Prince Turki bin Abdullah, who requested Zardari,s participation in the Interfaith Dialogue that the King is organizing in New York. In exchange, Zardari expects that the Saudis will be full participants in the Friends group (see septel).
7. (C) As for other possible additions to the Friends group, Boucher suggested that Spain and the Scandinavians might be ISLAMABAD 00003339 002 OF 003 good additions. Zardari assented, and asked Boucher if the U.S. would support Libya’s inclusion, to which Boucher agreed. Zardari suggested to Boucher that he would like China added to the steering group. Boucher was open to the idea but noted that the steering committee needed to remain small.
8. (C) Boucher reminded Zardari that the Friends group is not a &checkbook8 organization. He noted that we need to sit with the steering group and consider issues like membership and the role of the UN. We are hoping that the UN will help drive the process by providing a secretariat function. After the next meeting in Abu Dhabi, the U.S. vision would be to launch a series of experts meeting that would consider Pakistani policies and initiatives in a sector-by-sector review.
9. (S/NF) In an aside, Zardari mentioned that Iran has offered to provide Pakistan with concessional oil. How could he go to the National Assembly and tell them Iran had offered the assistance and Pakistan had turned it down, he asked rhetorically. Boucher reminded him of Ambassador Haqqani,s recent conversation on this issue with Deputy Secretary Negroponte in which the Deputy cautioned against providing Iran with a toehold in Pakistan.
10. (S) Zardari stressed repeatedly his determination to carry through with the fight against extremism and militancy. &I don’t believe in talking to the Taliban,8 he said. &We won’t do it on our side of the border.8 He noted that he has built a good relationship with the military and praised the leadership of Chief of Army Staff Kayani, ISI Director General Pasha, and Frontier Corps General Tariq Khan. To challenge the fundamentalists, however, Zardari needs to gain the confidence of the Army, the National Assembly, and the people. To do that, he believes he must address the economic situation and demonstrate that he can deliver on his economic promises. Zardari chastised the IMF for just wanting to &take away8 from Pakistan in the negotiations over a bailout package.
11. (C) In response to Boucher,s question about the National Assembly debate on Pakistan,s counter-insurgency strategy, Zardari expressed confidence that he would succeed in winning from the Assembly a consensus resolution on the government,s policy. (N.B.: A day earlier, both National Security Advisor Durrani and Information Minister Rehman expressed skepticism that an acceptable consensus resolution was achievable.) Nawaz Sharif,s Pakistan Muslim League is offering no help on Pakistan,s counter-terrorism policy, Zardari opined. Rehman added that Nawaz and Chaudhry Nisar have a &good cop/bad cop8 routine. Nawaz says good things about his party’s commitment to cooperation, but Nisar does the opposite in the Assembly.
12. (C) Describing his legislative strategy going forward, Zardari said that proposed revisions to the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) are nearly ready to bring to the Assembly. He anticipates that the extension of the Political Parties Act to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (permitting political parties to organize and campaign in the tribal areas under the same regulations as apply to the rest of the country) would be introduced within three months. Zardari also described a de-radicalization program he plans on introducing in the Assembly. Zardari will propose a criminal regime for &small fries8 that would sentence them to seven years in a &special prison8 to be constructed for handling reforming militants. While in the prison, the militants would receive job training and would receive lenient treatment, including conjugal rights. &I won’t stop pressing,8 Zardari declared, &either he (the militant) dies or he takes the option.8 Anyone caught a second time after going through the reform program will be sent to prison for ISLAMABAD 00003339 003 OF 003 life, Zardari declared.
13. (S) Turning to the fighting in Bajaur, Zardari asserted that the government needs a mechanism to get compensation into the hands of the victims of the fighting, suggesting that he thought one billion U.S. dollars might be sufficient. Responding that we anticipate the financial requirement would be less than that, Boucher and the Ambassador assured Zardari we are looking for ways that we can help. Zardari asked if the Friends of Democratic Pakistan might be of help, but Boucher reiterated that such assistance would likely fall outside the mandate of the group. Zardari then suggested that the Saudis could provide the necessary funds, noting that &the problem leads back to them.8 Rehman interjected that the National Assembly members were asking how the militants were getting their funds and raised the flow of funds from the Gulf to extremists in Pakistan. (DCM observed that efforts to stop funding terrorist groups were not helped by Pakistan,s obstruction of work in the UN 1267 Committee, mentioning specifically the hold on Katrina. Zardari expressed surprise that Pakistan was playing such a role, and Rehman made note of the issue.)
14. (S) As for the Pakistan-Afghanistan mini-jirga scheduled for Islamabad in a week’s time, Zardari expressed the hope that it will re-occupy political space in the tribal areas. He expressed the hope that the jirga could re-consolidate the government,s position among the majority of the tribes, noting that the government,s greatest challenge in rooting out the extremists is when they are able to shelter among the population in the area. As for leadership of the Pakistani delegation to the jirga, Sherry Rehman noted that Asfandyar Wali Khan, who had been proposed as the senior Pakistani, will not be back in Pakistan in time for the meeting. She suggested that Asfandyar is in &bad shape8 following the terrorist attack on his home near Charsadda. Zardari indicated separately that he is helping Asfandyar relocate his family to Dubai and would provide him with an armored vehicle when he returns to Pakistan.
Friends: the U.S. and the UK
15. (C) Zardari mused about the need to reach out to the new U.S. Administration after the elections and suggested that he would like to organize a &road show8 to visit the U.S. and explain Pakistan,s situation. Boucher suggested that such an effort could emphasize U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on the border coordination centers, the Joint Military Operations Coordination Center, and the Frontier Corps train and equip program.
16. (S/NF) As for the UK, Zardari expressed some concern that their support was getting wobbly. He believes that their views reflect their conviction that Zardari would fail and would be replaced by Nawaz Sharif. Boucher thought that the concerns are more a reflection of attitude than policy. If Zardari achieves results, he asserted, then the British will come around.
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17. (S/NF) Zardari was clearly buoyed by his visit to China and in good spirits as he looks ahead to the serious challenges that confront him and the country. He ran through numerous ideas for new initiatives to deal with the political, economic, and security problems, nearly all of which come with high price tags. In that regard, Zardari continues to express considerable optimism that, ultimately, his friends will ride to his rescue despite little evidence to support that view.
2008: Do not to allow Iran toehold in Pakistan: US