Bizarre ‘Memogate’ of Pakistan

By K.N. Pandita

In rustic idiom one may say that in Pakistan a thief is set to catch a thief. AAZ, HH, MI, AK and SP all stand stripped in the great fanfare of Pak domestic politics, thanks to her all-pervading and unstoppable Inter Service Agency.

American SEAL operation in Abbotabad, the nocturnal adventure of infidel American commandos, left the Army of the Faithful in the Islamic State of Pakistan shocked and stunned. The twenty minute operation took the wind out of the sail of GHQ located not far from the site of operation.  

Baffled GHQ has not been able to decide till date how to define its position vis-a-vis the dare-devil adventure of the Seal’s satanic commandos. In exasperation, it suspected Presidential office to have green signalled the operation. The wounded bear grinned; the message went.

President Zardari supplicated to his benefactors arguing that army takeover would be as much disastrous to Pakistan’s aspiration for democracy as to the US-NATO role in Afghanistan. Military coup did not suit the interests of either the White House or the Pentagon. It had to be ruled out. To mollify Pak Army, Washington came out with more carrots — nearly three billion dollars by way of aid for fighting the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine in Northern Waziristan.

General Kayani tried a few tricks to assuage hurt feelings of intractable corps commanders. But pressure continued. ISI chief has had personal score to settle; he had suffered humiliation in Abbotabadgate.

Thus the ground was prepared for a grand strategy to bring down the President whom the Army suspected of trying to steal a mach over her in wooing the Americans.

The ISI scripted a master plan and now the country has what sections of Pakistani media call the “Memogate”. The conspiracy was to kill not one, not two but three birds with one stone. Husain Haqqani, the garrulous Pakistani Ambassador in the US has fallen not only from grace but also from his post. The fate of Zardari hangs in balance and Mansoor Ijaz, the villain of the piece, takes shelter behind his US citizenship (for public consumption only)

Despite all the smartness and resourcefulness that he commands, little did Haqqani know that the one who laid the trap for him was no doubt closer to him but closest to the Pak intelligence agency, which had been seeking his head for quite some time for his fervent opposition to Pakistani Army’s history of effecting coups and enforcing marshal law?

Mansoor Ijaz, an American national of Pakistani origin, a rich businessman closely and clandestinely connected to high ups in the US administration including CIA on the one hand, and on the other, having befriended key functionaries in Pakistan government including ISI, became the conduit to pass on the ’Memorandum” allegedly drafted by Ambassador Haqqani to the former American Commander Mike Mullen through Ijaz’s “conduits”. General Jones (retired) of the US Army confessed having been one of the three conduits who passed on the alleged “Memorandum” to Mike Mullen.

Such was the finesse with which ISI handled the “Memogate” that, Ijaz, in his op-ed article in the Financial Times of October 10, 2011 even said that he had preserved all telephonic conversations, sms’, emails and BBMs exchanged between him and Haqqani in connection with the saga of the memo.

When ISI blew up the memo saga last week, General Kayani met with President Zardari twice. The combined conspiracy of the Army and ISI had worked. Kayani demanded Haqqani’s head. He was summoned and he resigned. A PIL has been filed in Lahore High Court by a social activist demanding Haqqani should be tried for treason and he should be debarred from leaving the country. Haqqani stuck to denial theory but Mansoor Ijaz gave interview to many channels including NDTV in which Barkha Dutt grilled him.

In reply to a question of Barkha Dutt that when there was an understanding between him and Haqqani, why did he publish the article in the Financial Times and disclose the story, Ijaz said that since Pakistani media had begun treating Mike Mullen with great contempt, his conscience did not allow him to let his compatriot suffer humiliation. He wanted to set the record right and retrieve Mike’s position averring that Mike Mullen was Pakistan’s best and sincere friend among the American Generals.

Barkha Dutt asked him that since what the memo conveyed was a highly and exceptionally sensitive subject why was it all not conducted only by word instead of setting it down in writing? Ijaz argued that the Americans had lost trust in Pakistani word because, in a number of instances, Pakistani authorities had failed to keep their word. Therefore the Americans would accept only if there was a document. That is why the Memo was sent as a non-paper.  Non-paper means a document not scripted on a letterhead with logo etc., but on a blank sheet of paper.

Thus Pakistani Army and ISI combine has succeeded in wrecking the profile of the President against who they have trained their guns for quite some time. Now Kayani and his tribe are expecting the exit of Zardari because they have succeeded in building anti-Zardari euphoria giving it the nomenclature of treasonable act. The charge of treason has already been invoked against Haqqani though only informally as yet.

But the crucial thing in this saga which we have not brought forth so far is the text of the memorandum sent to Mike Mullen. The entire text is available to the media and it makes an interesting study of tenuous domestic situation of Pakistan. It speaks of dismal security situation and pitfalls in democratic dispensation. But more than that, the memo proposes a bargain with the United States in which the US’ unstinted support is sought to ensure perpetuation of Zardari in the Presidential House. In return the PPP government would trim the wings of the Army and ISI and reduce its influence and reach in civil society. In particular the memo proposes restructuring of Pakistan’s security construct.

The pro-military sections of media are hyping it as stupendous effort to draw a wedge between the civil government and the army. It projects the saga as anti-national conspiracy and advocacy for permitting the US to make inroads deep in all areas of administration and policy planning of Pakistan. It amounts to bartering the State of Pakistan.

A close study of the text of the memo suggests that only one deeply involved in domestic and foreign affairs of Pakistan could script it and not any single person howsoever eminent he might have been. The only institution capable of producing such an insightful document in Pakistan is that of ISI. It paints a dark and dismal picture of Pakistan and reflects the urgency that the US should intervene and before the dangerous weapon of mass destruction falls in the hands of the pro-Army terrorists and fundamentalists, something should be done to avert the crisis. Pakistan is a state pitched against it.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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