Pakistan, Montemayor stated, remains a nation of grave concern, both in regard to the plight of its one million Catholics, which the Vatican considers oppressed, and in terms of its overall stability

2205 11/19/2001 14:53 01VATICAN5960 Embassy Vatican CONFIDENTIAL 01VATICAN5286|01VATICAN5546 "This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

" "C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 005960

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SA/PAB (PASI), EUR/WE (D.MENNUTI), S/P (VAN CLEVE)

FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 201/01

E.O. 12958:DECL:11/13/11

TAGS: PREL, PHUM, AF, PK, IN, VT

SUBJECT: PROGRESS OF WAR EFFORT REASSURES A WORRIED

VATICAN.

REF A: VATICAN 05286; REF B: VATICAN 05546

CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON FOR REASONS 1.5 (A)

AND (D).

CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 VATICA 05960 191507Z

1. (C) SUMMARY: VATICAN CRITICISM OF THE WAR EFFORT IS NOW LESS LIKELY, ACCORDING TO THE VATICAN AFGHANISTAN DESK OFFICER, SINCE ADVANCES BY THE U.S.-LED COALITION FACILITATE A MORE EFFECTIVE RESPONSE TO AFGHANISTAN'S HUMANITARIAN CRISIS THAN ANTICIPATED. THE VATICAN HOWEVER JUDGES ISLAMABAD AN UNRELIABLE COALITION PLAYER AND DISTRUSTS MUSHARRAF. POST RECOMMENDS DEPARTMENT EXPLORE MEANS TO ENGAGE THE VATICAN IN HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS IN AFGHANISTAN IN ORDER TO REINFORCE TACIT VATICAN SUPPORT FOR U.S. POLICY GOALS IN AFGHANISTAN. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN AFGHANISTAN HAVE CHECKED MOUNTING VATICAN MISGIVINGS AT THE WAR EFFORT (REF. A), AFGHANISTAN DESK OFFICER MONSIGNOR LUIS MONTEMAYOR TOLD POLOFF IN AN 11/14 MEETING. A NEGATIVE VATICAN OR PAPAL STATEMENT IS NOW EVEN LESS LIKELY, HE SAID, SINCE THE TERRITORIAL ADVANCES OF THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE WOULD FACILITATE THE RETURN OF NGOS TO AFGHANISTAN AND THE DELIVERY OF HUMANITARIAN AID.

3. (C) MONTEMAYOR ALSO INFORMED POLOFF THE THREE NUNS IN KABUL WERE WELL (REF. B) AS OF 11/4. THE NUNS, MEMBERS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF JESUS, WERE ASSISTING AT THE INDIRA GANDHI HOSPITAL (STILL FUNCTIONING, IF UNOFFICIALLY, HE ADDED) AND AT THE ALI ABAD CLINIC.

4. (C) MONTEMAYOR EXPRESSED PERSONAL SATISFACTION AT THE PROGRESS OF THE U.S.-LED CAMPAIGN HOWEVER HE REITERATED THE VATICAN'S HUMANITARIAN CONCERNS. HE VOICED SKEPTICISM THAT AFGHAN TRIBAL LEADERS, IN PARTICULAR THOSE OF THE NORTHERN CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 VATICA 05960 191507Z ALLIANCE, COULD PRODUCE A FUNCTIONING AND EQUITABLE GOVERNMENT. THE VATICAN WAS CLOSELY TRACKING ALLEGATIONS OF ATROCITIES IN MAZAR-I-SHARIF AND HEART, HE SAID, ADDING THAT THE CURRENT MILITARY ACTION RISKED DEGRADING INTO TRIBAL VENDETTA BY OTHER MEANS.

5. (C) PAKISTAN, MONTEMAYOR STATED, REMAINS A NATION OF GRAVE CONCERN, BOTH IN REGARD TO THE PLIGHT OF ITS ONE MILLION CATHOLICS, WHICH THE VATICAN CONSIDERS OPPRESSED, AND IN TERMS OF ITS OVERALL STABILITY. MONTEMAYOR MADE CLEAR THAT THERE IS NO LOVE LOST BETWEEN THE VATICAN AND MUSHARRAF. IN A LATE OCTOBER VISIT TO ISLAMABAD BY ARCHBISHOP PAUL CORDES, HEAD OF COR UNUM, THE VATICAN'S UMBRELLA AID ARM, CONTACT WITH MUSHARRAF AND THE GOP WAS KEPT TO A MINIMUM. MONTEMAYOR REMARKED THAT INITIALLY PAKISTAN'S BISHOPS HAD CAUTIOUSLY WELCOMED MUSHARRAF'S COUP IN THE HOPE THAT HE WOULD EASE ANTI-BLASPHEMY LAWS FREQUENTLY EMPLOYED TO KEEP RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN CHECK. MUSHARRAF HOWEVER WAS UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO CHALLENGE ISLAMIC RADICALS AND THE CONDITIONS OF PAKISTAN'S CATHOLICS WORSENED. THE VATICAN STRONGLY DOUBTS REPORTS OF A SEA CHANGE IN MUSHARRAF'S POLITICS. MONTEMAYOR SUGGESTED THAT IF BIN LADEN FINDS REFUGE IN BALUCHISTAN, THE U.S. WOULD FIND MUSHARRAF HARD PUT TO DELIVER ON HIS PLEDGES.

6. (C) COMMENT: THE SECRETARY'S CALL TO TAURAN HAS STRENGTHENED THE VATICAN MFA SUPPORT OF THE U.S.-LED WAR EFFORT. NEVERTHELESS, IN OTHER VATICAN QUARTERS -- MONTEMAYOR REFERRED TO AN INTERNAL ""HUMANITARIAN LOBBY"" -- PATIENCE WITH THE U.S.-LED WAR EFFORT HAD BEEN WEARING THIN. HOWEVER, THE LATEST MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS IN CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 VATICA 05960 191507Z AFGHANISTAN HAVE UNDERCUT THOSE WHO WERE URGING THE VATICAN OPPOSE THE WAR EFFORT. THE DEPARTMENT CAN REINFORCE ITS SUPPORTERS WITHIN THE VATICAN BY SHARING ITS VIEWS ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE. U.S. INCLUSION OF COR UNUM (AND CARITAS, A RELATED RELIEF ARM) WOULD HELP ELEVATE THE VATICAN TO THE RANK OF A COALITION PARTNER IN THE NEXT PHASE OF OUR EFFORTS. NICHOLSON

CONFIDENTIAL

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2001VATICA05960 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL "