What Benazir Bhutto Discusssed with US Ambassador about Her Security & NRO
A brotherly government (unnamed) had informed her that there would be snipers in Islamabad.
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2017
TAGS: ASEC, PGOV, PINR, PREL, PTER, PK
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH BENAZIR BHUTTO ON SECURITY AND INVESTIGATION OF KARACHI ATTACK
REF: ISLAMABAD 4599
Classified By: Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d).
1. (C) Summary: During an October 23 meeting in Karachi,Pakistan People,s Party Chairman Benazir Bhutto told the Ambassador that she was dissatisfied with the government's investigation of the October 19 bombing that targeted her motorcade. The Ambassador noted we had absolutely no evidence anyone in the government was involved and that we believed such accusations were not constructive. The Ambassador added that we are working with the GoP through longstanding channels.
2. (C) Bhutto also discussed her concerns about her personal security. She expressed frustration at not being consulted in the formation of the North West Frontier Province interim government and the loopholes in the National Reconciliation Ordinance. Regarding the upcoming general elections, Bhutto made it clear that she did not trust the voter,s list or the independence of the Election Commission. Ambassador told her the international community, and particularly the U.S., had robust observation and education measures planned. End Summary.
BHUTTO FRUSTRATED WITH INVESTIGATION
2. (C) On October 23, Ambassador called on Pakistan People,s Party Chairman Benazir Bhutto at her home in Karachi to convey condolences. Bhutto opened the meeting by expressing her dissatisfaction with the government,s investigation of the October 19 bombing that targeted her homecoming procession in Karachi. Bhutto insisted that government officials were responsible for the attack and could not be trusted to conduct an independent investigation. Bhutto complained that the government had not shared any of the details of the investigation with her.
3. (C) Bhutto reiterated her public request for U.S. assistance and asked to receive satellite imagery &chatter8 intelligence. The Ambassador noted that agencies were involved in the investigation. The Ambassador continued that all evidence thus far pointed to an al Qaeda-related – or another extremist group – attack and that blaming the government was not productive.
4. (C) Bhutto countered that a number of government officials supported the Taliban and al Qaeda, and that her blame is focused on them. Bhutto added that she would like rapprochement with the government, but does not see how it would be possible, as she believes that some government officials were involved in the bombing.
5. (C) Bhutto said that she was still receiving threat information. She claimed that the Sindh Government had informed her that if she goes to Larkhana (her ancestral home), she would be attacked. A &brotherly8 government (unnamed) had informed her that there would be snipers in Islamabad. Bhutto repeated that she felt the federal government was involved.
6. (C) According to Bhutto, Pakistan,s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) is complaining to the Sindh Government about the high level of security that the Government is providing to Bhutto. Still, Bhutto said, the government should relax the law to allow her own guards, &her boys8, to be armed, especially as some of them had died in the October 19 attack.
U.S. PROVIDED SECURITY?
7. (C) Bhutto asked the Ambassador if it would be possible for the USG to provide her with a security detail. The Ambassador responded that she was aware of two cases, President Karzai of Afghanistan and President Aristide of Haiti, in which the USG provided personal security and both were heads of state. She added that American security would not be consistent with the movements of a political campaign. On the other hand, the USG did provide long-term training on personal protection through existing government-to-government programs. Finally, the Ambassador offered to have Embassy RSO meet with individuals Bhutto designated to discuss security issues (reftel).
UPCOMING ELECTION CAMPAIGN
8. (C) Bhutto complained that the government did not want any political rallies in the upcoming election campaign. The government was doing this, she said, to deny or hide the fact that she had support.
9. (C) In Bhutto,s opinion, the Election Commission was not independent and the voter list was not accurate. She was thankful for the National Democratic Institute pre-election assessment delegation suggestions regarding election reforms. The Ambassador informed Bhutto that the international community would provide election observers and the USG had already identified 47 districts likely to be hotly contested. Bhutto expressed concern that the observers could become targets of attacks.
CARETAKER GOVERNMENT AND NRO LOOPHOLES
10. (C) Bhutto complained that she was not consulted on the North West Frontier Province caretaker government. She insisted that she should be consulted on the composition of the federal caretaker government and said that her party should occupy 1/3 of the positions.
11. (C) Bhutto also lamented that the recently promulgated National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) has loopholes. Ambassador said we were familiar with the drafting process of the NRO and did not believe it had been drafted with any loopholes in mind. Bhutto noted that the corruption cases outside Pakistan (such as in Switzerland) had not been withdrawn because the government had not written letters to stop them.
BHUTTO'S INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
12. (C) When asked if she would stay in Pakistan, Bhutto responded that she would stay for a while but then would start to travel and give lectures. Some of the countries to which she would travel included the UAE (Dubai), the United Kingdom, and the U.S. However, she would be based in Pakistan.
N A D E E M M A L I K