Memogate Scandal Escalates In Pakistan
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
19 December, 2011
President Asif Ali Zardari returned to Pakistan Sunday apparently after assurances from the Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani that he will not be implicated in the so-called Memogate scandal that has destabilized Zardari’s US-installed government.
Beleaguered by the escalating Memogate scandal, President Zardari sneaked out of Islamabad in the wee hours of December 6 to Dubai where he was admitted to the American Hospital. His sudden departure from Pakistan strengthened speculations about his role in the Memo sent on May 10 to Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen through former National Security Advisor Jim Jones.
In the memo the Pakistani government sought Washington`s help as it feared a military coup, following the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden in a US forces raid in Abbottabad. “Civilians cannot withstand much more of the hard pressure being delivered from the Army to succumb to wholesale changes.”
On Friday (Dec. 17) Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani held a two-hours long meeting with General Kayani who apparently gave assurance that the army will not implicate President Zardari in the memo conspiracy. It was after this meeting that General Kiyani phoned to President Zardari “to enquire about his health.” Not surprisingly, Prime Minister Gilani also met on Friday with US Ambassador Cameron Munter and sought “the US to give him the political space.”
All this indicates behind the scene activities to seek assurances for the beleaguered Zardari regime from the powerful army and Washington since Mansoor Ijaz also claimed on December 3 that he was sure it was President Zardari who had authorized the memo and that both Zardari and Hussain Haqqani had prior information about the May 2 US operation in Abbottabad.
Supreme Court resumes hearing of Memogate scandal
Tellingly, a politically weakened President Zardari returns to Pakistan on the day when the Supreme Court resumes hearing of the Memogate scandal.
Both Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Director General Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, in their first official and public statements on the memo scandal on Dec 14, dropped a bombshell by acknowledging the document and expressing satisfaction with the evidence provided by American businessman Mansoor Ijaz who sent the confidential memo to Admiral Mullen through General Jim John.
In separate replies filed with the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions related to the matter, they called for a thorough investigation about the memorandum, which they blamed on former ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, saying the issue had an impact on national security.
General Pasha demanded a detailed investigation, saying “access to unadulterated truth and justice is a right of the people of Pakistan, the real sovereign masters of this country”.
The other important common feature of both replies is that they confirm that Hussain Haqqani had been summoned to the country on their insistence following which the premier asked him to resign.
“It was, therefore, important that complete details be established as early as possible. I strongly recommended to the prime minister that our ambassador in the United States, who was best suited and informed on the matter, be called to brief the country’s leadership,” Gen Kayani said and went on to narrate his subsequent meetings with President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani on the issue.
Gen Pasha, narrating his meeting with President Zardari on Nov 18, said he recommended to the president that “the issue pertained to national security and should not be taken lightly. I suggested to the president that it will be in the fitness of things to ask our ambassador in Washington to verify or contradict the matter.”
The army chief also gave a brief account of a briefing he received on the issue from Gen Pasha on Oct 24 after the spy chief had met Mr Ijaz in London. “He (Gen Pasha) opined that the evidence shown to him by Mr Mansoor Ijaz was enough to establish that Mr Mansoor Ijaz remained in touch with Mr Hussain Haqqani from May 9, 2011, onwards and exchanged numerous text messages and telephone calls. As per DG ISI’s assessment, the sequence and contents of text messages and telephone calls created a reasonable doubt regarding Mr Hussain Haqqani’s association with the memo.”
Brigadier Asif Haroon Raja (retired) writes in Pak Tribune that the US has spent colossal amount on secret war in Pakistan to accomplish its objectives. Whatever the US had wished for has been penned down in the memo.
There was talk of replacing the current military leadership, of pledges to abandon support to all militant groups and also offers of a `transparent` and secure handling of nuclear assets among others. “Washington’s political/military backing would result in a revamp of the civilian government that, …..in a wholesale manner replaces the national security adviser and other national security officials with trusted advisers that include ex-military and civilian leaders favorably viewed by Washington.”
Brigadier Raja sees four possibilities behind the confidential memo:
One; the President authored the memo with the help of his confidents and authorized Hussain Haqqani to deliver it to Mullen.
Two; President shared his anxiety with Hussain Haqqani and latter convinced him to seek the US assistance and volunteered to do the needful at his end.
Three; it was entirely the doing of Hussain Haqqani aspiring to become the next prime minister with the blessing of USA.
Four; It was the US-Mansur Ijaz joint venture to create rift between the Army and Presidency; then instigate Gen Kayani to topple the government and takeover. Or else, instigate Zardari to sack Kayani and Pasha and then implement the points mentioned in the memo.
On December 1, in the preliminary hearing in the petitions on the memo issue the Supreme Council headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had constituted a commission headed by former Director General Federal Investigation Agency Tariq Khosa to probe the memo scandal, but Khosa declined to head the said commission because of controversy over his personality.
The Supreme Court is likely to form another investigating commission to probe two crucial questions in the Memogate scandal: (1) whether Husain Haqqani had a role in the conception, preparation and writing of the memo and (2) whether there was also someone else behind him, prompting him to produce the memo.
Alarmingly, the existence and delivery of the memo to the ultimate recipient stands proved as the originator, Ijaz Mansoor, said he wrote it; General Jim Jones says he delivered it to Admiral Mullen who says he received it.
7,000 visas issued to American citizens without security clearance
In a new twist to the memo scandal Advocate of the Supreme Court Tariq Asad, who is a petitioner in the case, has filed a rejoinder in the Court saying that the replies submitted by Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Inter Services Intelligence Director General Ahmad Shuja Pasha and ambassador Husain Haqqani did not coincide with the contents of the petition.
He told the court that the Pakistani Embassy in US, headed by Ambassador Hussain Haqqani had issued a total of 7,000 visas to US citizens without security clearance from 2008 to date, out of which, 450 visas were stamped in a single night. He said that from July 14 to August 30, 2010 the Pakistani ambassador in Washington issued as many as 1,445 visas to the US citizens mostly in the garb of diplomats without security clearance.
It may be recalled, on May 12, 2011, the Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed senior Pakistani security official as saying that at the end of 2009, a special presidential order was issued to give 7,000 visas and the same order was passed through the prime minister's office to Pakistan's ambassador in the United States, Hussain Haqqani. "On the basis of these orders, the visas which were valid for three to six months were issued without the scrutiny or routine security clearance of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence)." About 450 of those visas were issued to the CIA, the security official told Reuters adding: "We lost control of CIA operatives in Pakistan."
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the executive editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com
Comments are not moderated. Please be responsible and civil in your postings and stay within the topic discussed in the article too. If you find inappropriate comments, just Flag (Report) them and they will move into moderation que.