2009: ANP on military’s deals with militants
215774 7/9/2009 4:08 09PESHAWAR144 Consulate Peshawar SECRET “VZCZCXRO2565
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RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 5162″ “S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 PESHAWAR 000144
E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/9/2019
TAGS: PGOV, MOPS, PTER, PINR, PK
SUBJECT: ANP ON NWFP AND FATA DEVELOPMENTS
CLASSIFIED BY: Lynne Tracy, Principal Officer, U.S. Consulate
Peshawar, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (d)
1. (S) Awami National Party (ANP) deputy leader Senator Afrasiab Khattak distanced the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) from a purported ISI plan to release Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) leader Sufi Mohammad and engineer the “surrender” of senior Swat militant leaders. Khattak maintained that ISI devised the plan under pressure to “contain” Swat. According to Khattak, the military is continuing to pursue a strategy to divide South Waziristan militant leader Baitullah Mehsud from other militant commanders in the Waziristans, including the Haqqanis who are being treated “separately” (NFI) by the military. Senior personnel changes in the NWFP, particularly the governor, appear to be off the table for the moment. ANP’s relationship with President Zardari has cooled and may further complicate the government’s ability to sort through tangled issues such as the fate of Sufi Mohammad and Swat’s militant leadership. End Summary.
Plans for Sufi Mohammad’s Release
2. (S/NF) Khattak told PO July 3 that ISI is intensifying pressure on NWFP Chief Minister Haider Hoti to place TNSM leader Sufi Mohammad in “provincial protective custody” as part of an ISI plan to engineer the surrender of senior Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat leadership, including Mullah Fazlullah and spokesman Muslim Khan. ISI-proposed terms (NFI) of “provincial custody,” Khattak said, envisioned allowing the TNSM leader greater freedom of movement. In return, Sufi Mohammad would declare implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl regulation in Swat acceptable. (Note: On July 7, there were local press reports that Sufi Mohammad had been released. Post understands that the TNSM leader remains in ISI custody.)
3. (S) At the same time, Khattak said, TTP spokesman Muslim Khan has been sending out feelers to the NWFP government about the terms of a possible surrender of senior TTP leadership. The TTP-Swat spokesman, according to Khattak, was arguing that the government had taken too long to fulfill its promise of implementing the Nizam-e-Adl regulation. However, TTP-Swat senior leadership was purportedly prepared to lay down arms and surrender if TNSM leader Sufi Mohammad pronounced the regulation acceptable.
4. (S) Khattak declared flatly that the provincial government wanted nothing to do with this plan. Operations in Swat, he said, should come to a “logical conclusion” — killing or capturing militant leadership. ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan had instructed the Chief Minister to oppose taking responsibility for Sufi Mohammad. Wali Khan was also suspicious, Khattak commented, because ISI Director General Pasha had said nothing during a recent meeting about taking custody of Sufi Mohammad. Khattak speculated that ISI at the provincial level is under pressure, however, to “contain” the Swat problem.
5. (S) Khattak described a recent Apex Committee meeting where Waziristan plans were discussed. (Note: The Apex Committee consists of the NWFP Governor, NWFP Chief Minister, NWFP Chief Secretary, 11th Corps Commander, and Frontier Corps Commander. Khattak frequently represents the Chief Minister.) The military, Khattak said, was still working to separate Baitullah Mehsud from other Waziristan-based commanders, particularly Mullah Nazir, Gul Bahadur, and the Haqqanis. Following a July 2 jirga of Wazir elders, Khattak noted, Mullah Nazir had declared his “neutrality.”
6. (S) Khattak described the Pakistani military as treating the Haqqanis “separately” (NFI) from other militants. The Haqqani family, he observed, has already moved out of North Waziristan. Part of the family, he said, is living in a rented house on the Kohat Road on the southern side of Peshawar. The other half is living in a house owned by the Haqqani family in the Rawalpindi cantonment.
NWFP Personnel – No Changes
7. (S) PO noted past reports of senior personnel changes in the NWFP and asked whether replacing Governor Ghani or Inspector General Police (IGP) Malik Naveed was likely at this juncture. Khattak replied that Ghani was likely to remain “governor by default.” ANP and President Zardari could not agree on a suitable alternative. (Note: Separately, DCM understands that Army Chief of Staff General Kayani has told Zardari that this is not the moment to change the NWFP Governor.) Naveed, Khattak continued, had been more visible lately and seemed likely to retain his position. According to Khattak, Capital City Police Officer Sifwat Ghayyur, whose name had been surfacing as a possible replacement for Naveed, is experiencing health problems.
Increasing ANP Visibility
8. (C) Khattak said that ANP will hold a party meeting in Peshawar, July 8-9. Asfandyar Wali Khan will attend to improve his visibility. Khattak described with a note of skepticism phone calls from Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik to Wali Khan urging him not to travel to Peshawar at various times because of security concerns. (Note: After a slow start in the initial days of the IDP crisis, ANP, particularly the Chief Minister, is appearing with much greater frequency outside Peshawar.)
9. (S/NF) The relationship between ISI, TNSM leader Sufi Mohammad, and TTP-Swat leadership is a tangled one. Provincial government leaders have not forgotten that the military, and particularly ISI, pushed hard and facilitated the failed February peace deal in Swat. While Khattak and other ANP leaders continue to voice respect for senior military leaders in Islamabad and Peshawar, there is tremendous suspicion of ISI and the role it is playing in the NWFP and FATA. Khattak commented at one point that “ISI’s strategy is to save the taliban from defeat.” ISI’s motives and activities are more complicated than that statement suggests. However, the ISI-brokered deal now being described would likely undermine any progress the military has made in reversing the public perception that the military and local taliban are essentially the same entity. ANP-Zardari relations while not broken have a decidedly cooler tone since the Swat deal and the impasse over selecting a new governor. The troubled federal-provincial relationship may make sorting through issues such as this latest Sufi Mohammad-TTP Swat deal even more difficult.