Pakistan US ambassador Haqqani resigns over ‘memogate’
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani resigned on November 22, 2011 in midst of memogate scandal that started off when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed that he was asked by Haqqani to deliver a secret memo on behalf of President Asif Ali Zardari seeking Washington help to avert possible military coup. Mr. Ijaz allege in his Financial Times article that it was Haqqani who drafted the letter which was sent to US Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen. This memorandum was written in backdrop of US strike inside Pakistan killing Osama Bin Laden on May 2. Ambassador Haqqani denied all allegations made by Mansoor Ijaz. Click here to read complete text of the Memo.
Mansoor Ijaz has claimed that he was approached by a top Pakistani diplomat soon after the Abbotabad attack to help him deliver a memo supposedly written on behalf of President Zardari to Admiral Mike Mullen. He didn’t mention name of the diplomat in his article publish on October 10, 2011.
Pakistan Army was already annoyed with US pressure due to their already created mess in northern Pakistan due to the instability in Afghanistan. Its relations with Pakistan’s weak civilian government were under severe stress after the Osama bin Laden killing that occur roughly 61 km away from capital Islamabad. Mr. Zardari feared that embarrassment caused by bin Laden incident may trigger Pakistan Army to stage a coup against his already extremely unpopular and weak government.
Earlier Mike Mullen rejected the notion that his office has received any such memo. Latter he confirmed that his office had received such memo but they never consider it to be credible. During this whole controversy, Mr. Ijaz was seen in different TV talk shows narrating his side of the story. Newspaper hounds him for exclusive insight. Mr. Ijaz is not an unknown name for Pakistani diplomats. And his previous association with Pakistani diplomat does provide him some weight against Mr. Haqqani denial. He latter provided some evidence of the communication with the ambassador as well. In Pakistan, it was a media trial. News channels entire prime times were dedicated to Memogate controversy. Local TV talk shows were flooded with pseudo experts raising voice against strike on county’s sovereignty. Ijaz has also claimed that ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha recently met him in London and have conducted forensic testing of Blackberry messages between him and Haqqani.
It was widely speculated that Army wasn’t happy with Haqqani when he was appointed as ambassador to US. Some critics argue that one of the reason for this distrust goes back to 2005 when Haqqani wrote a book titled “Pakistan: Between Mosque And Military.” Haqqani, former political activist, enjoys good reputation in US. His good standing and his close connection with Zardari has always troubled army.
Most of the top slots in this democratically elected government are allotted on the basis of personal contact with President Zardari. After the controversy, demands for resignation were coming from all quarters including Army. Nawaz Sharif has also demanded the same along with the independent inquiry. He has demanded that culprits behind the memo should be exposed.
If this whole episode is true, then it’s all threads go back to presidency and questioning should not be restricted to Mr. Haqqani. But if you analyze situation rationally, the risk of Army takeover after May 2 incident was highly unlikely. Pakistan Army and Air Force was extremely under pressure and reprimand by the media and parliament. It was one of the lowest point in armed forces history that can be compared to losing West Pakistan to Bangladesh. But in this hue and cry another aspect of the memo was widely ignored. The memo pointed out that role of intelligence agencies are escalating in recent years. Memo even went on to suggest that the regime is willing work on to eliminating activities of ISI’s Section S once given nod from them. Further, memo proposes to give carte blanche access to US military to take action inside Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has already dismissed the perception that President has anything to do with memo but admitted that this whole scandal does raise question regarding government authority.
There are several tense moments between nuclear armed Pakistan and United States during Haqqani time in Washington. Earlier this year when CIA contractor Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis that sparks the angry protest across the country. Similarly, killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad by US Navy SEAL also mounted immense political pressure on President Zardari’s feeble civilian government. It was Husain Haqqani who mediated between the two sides along with doing balancing act with army.
We may never know wrote the memo but most of Pakistanis weren’t surprise if anything like memo does exist. They are all supporter of supremacy of constitution and parliament but one they come to powers they defy them. Haqqani’s resignation may have paved way for investigation, but any conclusive report is highly unlikely. It is not clear that how the inquiry will be conducted and most importantly who will be conducting it. Similarly, the question regarding the Mansoor Ijaz’s credibility and his true intentions are yet to be answered. If the purpose of all fiasco was to get rid of Mr. Haqqani, then whoever thought of this whole episode has certainly succeeded.