Asif Ali Zardari, the current President of Pakistan, explained to the visiting U.S. representatives, in a meeting in 2008, that the Global War on Terror was “Pakistan's war.”
“It was also a personal one,” he added, since Osama bin Laden financed the fall of the second government of his late wife Benazir Bhutto — who “maintained close relations with many of member of [US] Congress.” More than that, he added that the religious extremists killed her and her father. However, he acknowledged that “counterterrorism initiatives lacked popular Pakistani support” and “terrorism fostered profiteers who had an interest in the struggle continuing.”
If the U.S. needs to do more in its war on terror in Pakistan, it has to dispel doubts that U.S. would desert Pakistan after accomplishing its objectives and help Pakistan to match Taliban's economic muscle, Zardari argued. In its own interest, the U.S. “should no longer rely” on Musharaf, who was not taking enough responsibility for war on terror, he added.
In May 2008, three months after the general elections were held in Pakistan, U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff and Allyson Schwartz met Mr. Zardari, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, National Security Advisor Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani and Ambassador-designate to the U.S. Husain Haqqani. A cable, dated May 30, 2008 (156183: confidential) which documented this meeting noted that Mr. Zardari profusely thanked the U.S. government for its “support of credible parliamentary elections” and acknowledged that “we are here because of you [US].”
Mr. Zardari suggested that one of the ways the U.S. government could gain wide support for its efforts in Pakistan was by dispelling the distrust and by making it known they have “a commitment of decades” with Pakistan. He also wanted the U.S. representatives to look at ways to improve economic development by providing “U.S. tax breaks for companies producing “made in Pakistan” products.” Without such incentives and creating new jobs, he explained, “Pakistan just could not match the Taliban's reported USD 300 per month to tribals in the frontier regions.” Establishing a compensatory fund for the families of the victims of terrorist acts was essential, he added.
He blamed Mr. Musharraf for not taking enough responsibility for the war on terror in Pakistan and told the U.S. representatives that the public was against Mr. Musharaff. When he assured the U.S. team that “anti-U.S. feelings will go away when the old faces go away,” he did not make it explicit that he was referring to the “honorable exit” of Mr. Musharaf, which he was hoping to discuss with him privately.
In conclusion, Mr. Zardari assured the U.S. representatives that “We won't act without consulting with you.”