Political Manipulation of the Memogate Scandal
By Sajjad Shaukat
Although political manipulation is very common even in the western countries where the rival politicians always try to exploit any issue against one another for gaining the sympathies of general masses, yet they do not act upon such a practice at the cost of national interests. But it is our misfortune that Pakistan’s political parties leave no stone unturned in targeting the security agencies of the country at the cost of state’s security, while Pak army and intelligence agencies, especially Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are already coping with militants including foreign agents who are conducting suicide attacks, target killings, abductions, ethnic and sectarian violence.
In this connection, sometimes, it is the case of missing persons and sometimes, Mehran Bank scandal which have continuously being manipulating by our political parties and so-called human rights organisations by taking the same to the Supreme Court. Besides, other cases, in the past few months, Pakistan’s internal elements manipulated the memogate issue in order to malign Pak Army and particularly ISI for political purposes with a view to getting the sympathies of general masses and to increase their vote bank in the forthcoming elections.
In this regard, Pakistan Peoples Party’s top leaders, without naming army or ISI had presumed that there is a plot against their government through the memogate scandal, while our media anchors have been propagating that a rift has occurred between the civil and military leadership. In this respect, on December 22, last year, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, while hinting towards army and ISI, said that conspiracies were being hatched to topple the democratically elected government, and state within state would not be tolerated. He had also presumed that before the Senate elections, these security agencies wanted to change the government under the cover of megogate scandal.
On December 19, last year, both Prime Minister Gilani and Opposition Leader of the P M L (N) Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stated that neither any undemocratic setup nor martial law would be accepted in the country. On December 15, Chaudhry Nisar and ANP parliamentarian Bushra Gohar demanded for resignation of the ISI chief over his alleged plot to oust the PPP government as accused by Mansoor Ijaz, an American businessman of Pakistani origin, who is the central character of the memo.
However, nothing happened and Senate elections held according to the schedule. On the other side, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, while following his earlier commitment of non-interference in politics, made it clear on December 23, 2011, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to support democratic process in the country”, while dispelling the speculations of any military takeover.
Exploitation of the memogate case could also be judged from the fact that on January 21, 2012, during his online interview to ‘The Daily Telegraph’, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US mispercived, a referring to the ISI that he “fears, he will be murdered, if he leaves the official residence of the country’s prime minister Gilani” His apprehension proved quite untrue, and the apex court also allowed him to go abroad.
Mansoor Ijaz submitted his reply in the Supreme Court, claiming that he had shared the evidences of the memo with ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha who had visited London. Ijaz indicated that he sent the draft to Hussain Haqqani for review. He said that the memo contained an offer, backed by President Asif Zardari that the US helped to oust the current military leadership; a new national security team would disband the army unit which collaborates with the Taliban.
Nevertheless, the integrity of Hussain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz need particular attention so as to know the reality regarding the memogate scandal. As regards Hussain Haqqani, who had also served as an adviser to the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was protecting American interests, while serving as Pakistani ambassador. He had issued visas to many CIA agents like Ramond Davis to destabilise Pakistan. Besides, working at various American institutes, Hussain Haqqani developed secret liasons with Indo-Israeli lobbies and became covert element of anti-Pakistan campaign. Particulary, this could be judged from his book, titled, “Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military.” In this book, Hussain Haqqani has targeted both military and Islamic ideology. While pointing out relationship of the Pak Army and ISI with the Islamic militants, Haqqani allegedly wrote, “since September 11, 2001, the selective cooperation of Pakistan’s military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf—sharing intelligence with the United States and apprehending Al Qaeda members—have led to the assumption that Pakistan might be ready to give up its long-standing ties with radical Islam.” In the book, He advised America, “Washington should no longer condone the Pakistani military’s support for Islamic militants.”
American famous writers and authors exaggeratedly praised the book of Hussain Haqqani as it was in accordance with the hidden agenda and blame game of the US high officials and media which still continue against Pakistan and its security agencies. Especially, Stephen P. Cohen, author of the book, “The Idea of Pakistan and The Pakistan Army” allegedly wrote, “We are in Hussain Haqqani’s debt for providing the authoritative account of the linkages between Pakistan’s powerful Islamists and its professional army.” All this indicate that he seems to be an agent of American CIA.
Meanwhile, uncompromising differences might have been created by CIA between Hussain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz who decided to disclose the real story through the memo so as to fulfill American multiple schemes against Islamabad.
Mansoor Ijaz who was real agent of CIA was also used by this agency not only to create a rift between the civil and military leadership of Pakistan, but also to save Hussain Haqqani through the deliberate self-contradictory statements of Ijaz and to further tarnish the image of Pak Army, especially ISI, making them subject of political manipulation.
In this respect, first of all, Ijaz used various pretexts to come to Pakistan in order to appear before the memo inquiry commission. For this purpose, he sought protection from the Pakistan Army during his stay, while in a radio interview on May 5, 2011, he accused the army and ISI of protecting Osama Bin Laden right after the May 2 US raid in Abbottabad. He also claimed that it was the country’s civilian leadership that had prior information about the raid. In this context, during his cross-examination to the judicial commission via a video link, while elaborating a threat of military coup in Pakistan, Ijaz said that he had received a draft about ISI Chief Pasha’s visit to foreign countries and the May 2 incident, but he refused to comment on the source of the draft. With the passage of time, Mansoor Ijaz had been expanding his allegations and only recently his claims about a telephone conversation between President Zardari and General Kayani on 2nd May just after the Abbottabad raid were refuted by him.
While, former US National Security Advisor James Jones who earlier admitted the receipt of the secret memo denied the same. And the former Admiral Mike Mullen also refused its confirmation. In fact, the main aim of CIA-directed paradoxical statements of Ijaz Mansoor are to weaken the case, creating doubts about the authenticity of the memo with the sole purpose to save Hussain Haqqani.
Setting aside the services of ISI such as closure of political wing of the agency, capture of renowned Taliban commanders, castigation of pre-terror attacks, sacrifices of ISI personnel, suicide attacks on agency’s premises in various cities of the country, blockage of the activities of Blackwater including CIA agents and submission of information about foreign plot to the civil government against the integrity of the country, some our own media anchors and political parties including so-called human groups are implicating this superior agency over one or the other issue. Besides the leaders of Jamat-i-Islami PML (N), Nawaz Sharif, has repeatedly been criticising the Pak Army and ISI. PML (N) has opposed the extension to the tenure of ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Pasha. But Gen. Pasha did not request for extension of service as exploited by the political elements. Now Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam will take charge of the agency on March 19.
On the other hand, some political leaders, especially Nawaz Sharif are denying the amount; they received in connection with the Mehran Bank scandal. On March 8 this year, former Chief of Mehran Bank Younis Habib disclosed before the Supreme Court that former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and former army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg pressurised him to arrange Rs 1.48 billion for distribution among the politicians. Next day, Gen. (retd) Asad Durrani also admitted it in the Court.
No doubt, memogate scandal is a reality as already submitted by Gen. Kayani and Gen. Pasha in their reply to the apex court, but it has been converted into fake evidence due to America and CIA who seek to disgrace Pak Army and ISI. Like other issues, our political leaders and media are particularly manipulating this scandal in tone of country’s foreign enemies who have already started a vile propaganda against army and ISI to destabilise Pakistan for their collective secret designs.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations