Second act of the memo drama

Courtesy :- Malik Muhammad Ashraf


It might well be a conspiracy to create an ambience of confrontation between the civil and military leadership and then exploit their vulnerabilities to achieve certain objectives. At this critical juncture of our history, the civil and military leadership needs to tread cautiously and stay united


A blog in The Independent, a UK newspaper, has pointed out that the architect of the alleged memo crisis, Mansoor Ijaz, during an exchange of messages on BlackBerry messenger (BBM) had also informed his alleged co-conspirator that there was a second, rival plot (military coup), in train during the very same days and General Pasha, the ISI chief, had travelled to Arab states to enlist their support for the contemplated adventure. According to Ijaz, the US intelligence sources had also confirmed the existence of the plot. The blog wonders how this most arresting claim evaded even the faintest scrutiny.

The revelation by The Independent unfurls the second act of the memo drama that raises many questions about the motives and credibility of the media outlets in Pakistan that led a frontal attack on the person of the president and even held him liable to be prosecuted for treason. If seeking intervention of a foreign power to stop a military coup constitutes an act of treason under Article 6, then seeking support of the foreign countries to stage a military coup is also an act of sedition falling within the purview of the same Article.

It is indeed a very embarrassing moment for the media gurus who blew the issue out of proportion without verifying the authenticity of the claims and also for the politicians who took it as a godsent opportunity to get their man and who in their zeal for the witch-hunt even resorted to outsourcing a political issue to the Supreme Court. If they believed that whatever Mansoor Ijaz had claimed was true, then how would they not believe the claim about the military coup in the offing? What remains to be seen is whether these stalwarts and champions of the national honour and sovereignty will demand action against the khakis with the same vehemence and intensity on the basis of this information as they have been doing in the case of the president and Husain Haqqani or bury their heads in their burrows out of fear of the guns. I am sure they neither have the mettle nor the guts to stand up and gun for the khakis. The Supreme Court had declared Musharraf’s actions of November 3 as breach of the constitution but none of these elements ever demanded action against Musharraf and his cronies under Article 6. Even the Supreme Court has not directed registering of a case against the dictator for his acts of sedition. It is really a matter of great shame that our politicians, the media and intellectual circles are all complicit in selective accountability and a witch-hunt. That reflects the moral bankruptcy that our entire society is afflicted with.

Having said that, I firmly believe that there is no truth in the claims made by Mansoor Ijaz either about President Zardari and Haqqani or the ISI chief. These claims are adequately belied by the unity and solidarity shown by both the civil and military leadership in the wake of the unilateral action of May 2 by the US. President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani extended unqualified support to the ISI and the army in warding off the American pressure and the army leadership also exhibited its subservience to the civilian leadership. It was a time to get united rather than conspiring against each other. In the face of the US attack at Salala, they have again proved beyond any iota of doubt that they are on the same page and united to steer Pakistan out of the dire straits. Therefore, there is no cause for giving credence to the convulsions of a man like Mansoor Ijaz.

It might well be a conspiracy to create an ambience of confrontation between the civil and military leadership and then exploit their vulnerabilities to achieve certain objectives. At this critical juncture of our history, the civil and military leadership needs to tread cautiously and stay united as they have been in the past and not allow such incidents to vitiate the ambience of trust between the two. Mansoor Ijaz is a man of dubious character with a reproachable credibility. Admiral Mike Mullen is on record to have said that he did not take any action on the memo because he was doubtful about its authenticity. Mansoor Ijaz, who initially claimed that the memo was written with the approval of President Zardari, later said that the president may not have been aware of the specifics of the memo. This backtracking from his earlier stance is enough to scuttle his credibility. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official who chaired Obama’s strategy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, has termed the memo as a “clumsy fake” saying Ijaz has a long track record of fabricating information for self-promotion. The US ambassador in Pakistan has also dubbed the statements of Mansoor as a “pack of lies”. These assessments about Mansoor Ijaz from high profile US sources are more than enough to see through the motives and machinations of the man who is an avowed critic of the military and the ISI. Our politicians and the media should have paid due attention to these revelations before creating an unnecessary hype typical of a knee-jerk reaction.

Pakistan is confronted with challenges of enormous magnitude that require an impregnable unity among all segments of society and state institutions. Our politicians owe it to the nation to exhibit greater responsibility and shun their propensity to prefer their narrow political gains over the national interest. The media also needs to act responsibly. Now that the case is in the Supreme Court and the parliamentary committee is also seized of the matter, it should avoid speculative and unsubstantiated stories about the episode.

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