Musharraf noted that he and many Middle Eastern leaders were worried that a premature pull-out of U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq would spread sectarian strife throughout the Gulf region.

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4/10/2007 12:27:00 PM

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Embassy Islamabad

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 001583

SIPDIS

NOFORN SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/10/2017 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MOPS, PK, AF, IZ, IR, ID, MY, SA, LE

SUBJECT: MUSHARRAF TELLS MCCAIN: DON'T PULL OUT OF IRAQ WITHOUT TRIPARTITE POLITICAL SETTLEMENT

REF: ISLAMABAD 1517

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Peter Bodde, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (U) On April 3, President Musharraf met with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Representative Richard Renzi (R-AZ), Musharraf's third U.S. Congressional delegation of the day (reftel). The group,s discussion focused on Iraq, the broader Middle East, and the Pak-Afghan border region.

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Muslim countries should play lead role in Iraq And help solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute

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2. (C) Musharraf noted that he and many Middle Eastern leaders were worried that a premature pull-out of U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq would spread sectarian strife throughout the Gulf region. Musharraf underlined the importance of increasing the capacity of the Iraqi armed forces and police. He noted there could be little improvement in the situation in Iraq without broader political participation from the Sunnis. Musharraf agreed with Senator McCain that Muslim countries needed to lead efforts to help Iraq's Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds reach political consensus before a major withdrawal of coalition troops. Musharraf said he understood U.S. public opinion was against prolonging U.S. presence in Iraq, but hoped U.S. leadership could communicate the importance of the mission in Iraq. Turning to the future of Iraq, Musharraf hoped that Muslim peacekeeping troops (including Pakistanis) could replace U.S. forces under a United Nations umbrella.

3. (C) Conflicts outside Iraq also contributed to the unstable situation in the region, Musharraf said. Musharraf noted that in addition to Saudi King Abdullah,s work in forging an Arab consensus on Iraq, he was working on building consensus within the Muslim world on the Palestinian issue ) work that was slowly but surely bringing Syria back into the Arab fold. Alluding to his own outreach to the moderate Muslim world, Musharraf noted there was space for non-Arab nations to play a role on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and that Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia had agreed to form a united voice to help promote peace in the region. Musharraf said he was the first non-Arab leader invited to address the Arab League Summit.

4. (C) Musharraf said he believed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could play a positive role in both Iraq and Lebanon, and that Assad could be "handled" if the U.S. understood his issues: &If you want him to play ball, he needs comfort on other fronts -- namely, the Golan Heights.8 Turning to another Iraqi neighbor, Musharraf agreed with the delegation that Iran could not be allowed to create further divisions in Iraq.

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The Pak-Afghan border: Past decisions created present security problem

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5. (C) When asked for his views on Afghanistan, Musharraf

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said Pakistan was facing the fallout from security decisions made in the 1980s. People who came to fight with the mujahideen against the Soviets settled in Pakistan's tribal areas and now had families. These people -- mostly Uzbeks and Arabs -- developed links with al Qaeda. Recently, tribal groups in both South and North Waziristan were taking action against Uzbeks and other foreigners because of the foreigners, cruel and high-handed behavior. Pakistan's military provided covert support in the form of arms and ammunition. Musharraf reported that in South Waziristan, a large group of foreign militants were surrounded on a ridge and would soon surrender.

6. (C) Originally, Musharraf said, the Taliban movement was a reaction against growing tribalism and warlordism in Afghanistan. Since Russia and India supported Afghanistan's (ethnic Tajik) Northern Alliance, Pakistan's natural ally was the (ethnic Pashtun) Taliban. This all changed after 9/11, Musharraf said, and Pakistan had captured and killed hundreds of al Qaeda fighters near Tora Bora.

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We're Going After Militants: Bin Laden May Be Here, But Mullah Omar's Not

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7. (S/NF) Echoing similar statements he,d made during an earlier meeting with CODEL Tierney (reftel), Musharraf said that although he had no direct evidence, he thought al Qaeda leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were hiding in Bajaur Agency, since it was in (Afghan militant leader) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's territory and bordered Afghanistan's Konar province. The landscape in videos of Bin Laden and Zawahiri looked similar to Bajaur, Musharraf said, and the area provided comfort, high mountains, positive support, and an absence of U.S. troops in neighboring Konar.

8. (C) Musharraf voiced concern over Afghan President Karzai,s frequent pronouncements about Pakistan's &failure8 to capture Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Balochistan's capital Quetta. &Let me tell you,8 Musharraf emphasized, &Omar would be mad to be in Quetta -- he has too many troops to command in southern Afghanistan to make it feasible. In fact, the only parts of Balochistan where there are Pakistani Taliban are in the province's Afghan refugee camps, which we are planning to shut down.8 Musharraf said that most Pashtuns in Balochistan were traders and had no reason to join the Taliban. &They want roads to increase their trade, not to fight.8 The same could not be said for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Musharraf said.

9. (C) Musharraf said the Taliban were mainly in Afghanistan. Karzai,s policies, Musharraf believed, alienated Afghanistan's Pashtuns by favoring (ethnic Tajik) Panshiris. After Coalition forces joined the Northern Alliance to oust the Taliban government, there was no change in the ethnic makeup of the victors when it came to planning. Panshiris were disproportionately represented in the government, even though they had never ruled before and were, Musharraf believed, the natural enemy of the country's majority Pashtuns.

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A New Strategy in the Tribal Areas And the Ethnic Dimension in Afghanistan

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10. (C) Turning to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Musharraf stated that Taliban militants from Afghanistan drew support from Pakistan for re-supply, hospitals, recruitment, and indoctrination of new troops. Musharraf emphasized military force alone could not deny terrorists safe haven in the Tribal Areas over the long term. That was why, Musharraf explained, Pakistan was pursuing a four-pronged strategy that included military, political, development, and administrative elements. The fencing of the Pak-Afghan border in some parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas would reduce some cross-border movement, he said, but it was not enough. Musharraf described development as the most forward-looking ) and in some ways most complex ) part of the strategy. Pakistan was looking for U.S. assistance and expertise.

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Pakistan's Taliban Problem Is An Extremism Issue

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11. (C) One of Pakistan's biggest concerns, Musharraf said, was the spread of talibanization, especially into settled and urban areas. Countering talibanization required a well thought out strategy to cleanse society of the Taliban culture and to encourage moderation. Modernization and economic development were the way forward, Musharraf noted. Talibanization was even spreading to Islamabad, as you could see by the recent events at the Red Mosque (reported septel).

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Afghanistan's Poppy Industry Should Go Legal

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12. (C) In response to McCain's question about whether Musharraf was worried Afghanistan would become a narco-state, Musharraf answered that he was, especially because if it did it would affect Pakistan. Musharraf thought Afghanistan could follow the example of other countries -- such as India

-- where narcotics were purchased legally and channeled into the international pharmaceutical industry. It was a $500-600 million annual industry, Musharraf said, and the profits made from legal poppy sales could go toward poverty alleviation instead of to the Taliban.

BODDE