Lieberman underscored need for Pakistan to hold free, fair elections in February.

136916 1/11/2008 4:06 08ISLAMABAD164 Embassy Islamabad CONFIDENTIAL "VZCZCXRO9407

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2018

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PTER, MARR, PK

SUBJECT: CODEL LIEBERMAN'S MEETING WITH PAKISTAN COAS KAYANI

Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. In a January 9 meeting with Codel Lieberman, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Kayani agreed that increased training and exercises with the U.S. would be of great value, but urged that U.S.-Pakistan military engagement remain low-key for domestic political reasons. Lieberman underscored need for Pakistan to hold free, fair elections in February. They also discussed the need to add a humanitarian aspect to Pakistan's counterinsurgency strategy. Kayani noted four areas in which the Army was requesting technical assistance. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Ambassador and Senator Joseph Lieberman met with COAS General Kayani January 9. Lieberman noted that the Kayani was held in high regard by the U.S. military and stressed the importance of military-to-military relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. Lieberman then raised the possibility of U.S.-sponsored training in counterterrorism and counter-insurgency. Kayani responded positively, but cautiously, noting that any joint military engagement needed to have a low-profile in the current political climate.

3. (C) Lieberman said it appeared that President Karzai had a more positive attitude toward engagement with Pakistan than in the past. Kayani stated that he had had positive exchanges with ISAF's General McNeil and that progress had been made in tripartite cooperation between the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kayani also indicated cooperation had improved with Afghanistan's military on the tactical level, adding there was increased engagement at the between Pakistan and Afghanistan, ""below the political level.""

4. (C) Lieberman suggested that the region shared common concerns and common enemies; solid cross-border relationships were key. Kayani responded that the regional situation was complex but agreed a stable Afghanistan would benefit all. Pakistan, he stressed, needed internal stability to effectively fight regional terrorism and, therefore, had to be careful about over-reaching on the domestic front. Many didn't understand that both short-term objectives and long-terms goals depended on continued stability. For instance, the situations in Waziristan, Balochistan and Kashmir were volatile. It was important that the government be able to balance these objectives and not overstretch its military capacity.

5. (C) Commenting on Pakistan's anti-terrorism strategy in the border areas, Kayani concluded that ""no pure military solution"" would fully address the problem. Pakistan forces faced significant challenges in securing the confidence and support of local communities; their military strategy required a civil/humanitarian component to build confidence with the people. Lieberman agreed that any military approach needed to be supplemented with a strategy for civilian engagement. Kayani said the Army faced a great challenge - that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) had centuries' old traditions and enmities which complicated any proposed approach. Nonetheless, Kayani said, whether in FATA or the settled area of Swat, the government must assert control. Most of Swat valley was now under control, giving the Army a chance to establish itself. He said U.S. economic assistance was needed to help bring basic services to this and similar areas.

7. (C) Lieberman then discussed potential threats to the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. The greatest of these would be another terrorist attack on the U.S. which would greatly increase the pressure for military action. Lieberman also expressed concerns regarding some of Pakistan's recent political actions, especially the suspension of civil liberties and removal of the Supreme Court during the State of Emergency. Still, he pointed out, if Pakistan could get past its current political problems and hold credible elections in February, it could emerge even stronger than it was before the crisis.

8. (C) Kayani said recent political events needed to be viewed within the larger, historical and security context of Pakistan and the challenges it faced. He also noted the detrimental effect of statements by U.S. politicians and public figures suggesting the U.S. would take direct military ISLAMABAD 00000164 002 OF 002 action in Pakistan. Lieberman agreed such remarks were unhelpful and noted they received much more media coverage in Pakistan than in the U.S. Lieberman added that another instance that had received more attention in Pakistan was the U.S. Congress' recent deliberation over possible changes to assistance legislation in light of the GoP's political actions.

9. (C) Lieberman than asked about the status of the search for Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. It was unjust to criticize Pakistan for not locating these men, asserted Kayani, and he would place Pakistan's track record in pursuing and capturing al-Qaida operatives up against any other country's. He added that Coalition Support Funds were being used appropriately in support of counterterrorism efforts.

10. (C) Kayani closed with four requests for U.S. technical assistance:

-- Intercept satellite phones (Thuraya)

-- Enhanced capability to monitor mobile phones

-- Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance

-- Aerial collection platform to intercept low power radio transmissions

The Ambassador said the Embassy would respond to him.

11. (U) Codel Lieberman did not clear this cable.

BODDE