By S. M. Hali
The appearance of a furtive memo admittedly drafted by Pakistani origin US business tycoon Mansoor Ijaz and allegedly dictated by former Ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani has created a furor in the portals of power at Islamabad. The memo was reportedly sent soon after the May 2 episode. Purportedly, it was passed on to then US Chief of Joint Staff Committee, Admiral Mike Mullen, requesting support for the civilian government in Pakistan, alleging that the military was planning a coup d'état, promising the US government purging Pakistan Army of pro Taliban officers including the current Army & ISI chiefs. These assurances to a foreign power are tantamount to treason. The author of the surreptitious memorandum, Mansoor Ijaz decided to spill the beans with an article in the Financial Times on 10th October. Initially Admiral Mike Mullen denied having received the memo but a couple of weeks later, under mounting pressure; he acknowledged receiving the memo but declared that no action was taken on it. The case was compounded with the former National Security Advisor (NSA) to President Obama; Lieutenant General James Jones confirming acting as the intermediary between Mansoor Ijaz and Admiral Mike Mullen. Ambassador Haqqani denied being the mastermind behind the surreptitious memo but he was summoned by the government to explain his position. Meanwhile Mansoor Ijaz not only released transcripts of the communication between him and Ambassador Haqqani via e-mail and Blackberry but offered to appear before an inquiry committee in Pakistan. Reportedly, he was grilled by the DG ISI and by the time Haqqani appeared in person, the Army was baying for his blood. The Prime Minister sought Haqqani’s resignation, which was promptly accepted and his replacement was named posthaste. However the buck does not stop here since the charges are so serious that it is imperative that the real perpetrators of the heinous agenda are exposed.
A number of questions remain unanswered. To start with, after the May 2 US operation, the armed forces of Pakistan were pushed with their backs to the wall, bearing the brunt of public outcry for failing to detect the US ingress into Pakistani territory as well as being ignorant of Osama’s presence in the cantonment city of Abbotabad. However, it was the Peoples’ Party Government that not only reposed confidence in the Army, but also supported it. On its part, the Army willingly briefed the Parliament on the Abbotabad fiasco and subjected itself to close grilling by the legislative body. Under the circumstances, the question of staging a coup d'état does not arise. Secondly, why Admiral Mike Mullen, who now says that he did not act on the memo, viciously chastised Pakistan and the ISI at his testimony at Capitol Hill a week before his retirement? Mullen, who was considered to be mild mannered and having excellent relations with General Kayani, had a long tête-à-tête with him at Seville, Spain only a few days earlier. Definitely the surreptitious memo took the toll of Mullen’s placid demeanour, causing his fiery outburst.
Although the government has appointed an inquiry committee, Opposition leader Mian Nawaz Sharif has filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a probe into the case of the surreptitious memo. Another question that remains unanswered is regarding the reliability of Mansoor Ijaz. Under his own admission as well as according to Indian columnist Jaideep E. Menon’s Op-Ed: ‘Musawer Mansoor Ijaz–America's Secret Emissary’, Mansoor Ijaz visited Srinagar accompanied and guided throughout his visit in Kashmir by officials of the Indian intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and military officials.
The severity of the case makes it imperative that after a thorough and impartial investigation; the real perpetrators are identified and dealt with severely. A horrible example must be made of those who plot against the state and its institutions. However, a riposte has already been launched for damage-control. A number of analysts opine that with the government pushed against the wall, it called in its markers with its US allies, who conducted the heinous and unprovoked attack on Salala check-post and butchered 25 Pak Army personnel. The memo-scandal was thus relegated to the backburners amidst the condemnation of the attack. Memo-gate and the act of treason have been successfully buried amidst the floodgate of hate, anger and angst unleashed in the aftermath of the attack. It is the media, which has to sift through the fog of war and get to the bottom of the truth to identify the real culprits of disloyalty to the state.