‘Memo-gate’: Alarm bells as Mullen confirms secret memo

Published: November 18, 2011

President Asif Ali Zardari has summoned a crucial meeting of his close associates, commonly known as core committee, today (Friday). In this meeting, it is expected that Ambassador Haqqani’s fate will be decided.

WASHINGTON / ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani said on Thursday that, in Pakistan, a single person’s claims can create crises. Whether the claims are true or not, the crisis has well and truly been created.  

The controversy over a secret backchannel memo sent purportedly from the civilian leadership of Pakistan to the then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen regarding an offer to rein in Pakistan’s powerful army and its spy agency continued to unfold dramatically on Thursday.

Though his name has not been openly taken, the man said to have played a crucial role in the purported memo is none other than Ambassador Haqqani, who is alleged to have contacted another middleman to get the message to Mullen.

Mullen confirms memo

Hours after Ambassador Haqqani offered to resign, the website of a prestigious US-based publication, which had printed a denial on the matter by Mullen a few days ago, dropped a bombshell by claiming that the former chairman US joint chiefs of staff had confirmed receiving the alleged memo.

The Cable, a blog at Foreign Policy, published a statement from former Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s spokesperson who acknowledged that the now retired officer did receive a memo, but didn’t believe it was credible.

“Adm. Mullen had no recollection of the memo and no relationship with Ijaz. After the original article appeared … he felt it incumbent upon himself to check his memory. He reached out to others who he believed might have had knowledge of such a memo, and one of them was able to produce a copy of it,” John Kirby said. “That said, neither the contents of the memo nor the proof of its existence altered or affected in any way the manner in which Adm. Mullen conducted himself in his relationship with Gen. Kayani and the Pakistani government. He took no note of it.”

Alarm in Islamabad

The confirmation has set off alarm bells in Islamabad.

President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, has summoned a crucial meeting of his close associates, commonly known as core committee, today (Friday). In this meeting, it is expected that Ambassador Haqqani’s fate will be decided.

PPP Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira confirmed the schedule of the core committee meeting, but said that usually the agenda of the meeting is decided when it begins. Before the core committee meeting, another meeting between Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Zardari is also expected.

The president had already held two meetings with Gen Kayani in the presidency on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The meetings were about the memo – and while it is unclear what action was agreed to, media reports suggest that it could end up with Haqqani being sacked as ambassador to appease the military, which is said to be highly irked by the purported memo.

Though Haqqani has refuted allegations, the civilian government is under tremendous pressure to sack him and appoint Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir as the new envoy.

A Pakistan-American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, had alleged in an October 10 op-ed in the Financial Times that on May 10, in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad, Zardari had offered to replace Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence leadership and cut ties with militant groups. Ijaz said he was directed to craft the memo by a senior Pakistani official close to Zardari (now believed to be Haqqani). It is said that the government feared a coup at the time.

Haqqani speaks

Ambassador Haqqani, who has served as Pakistan’s representative to the US since 2008, denied that he had either drafted or delivered any memo. Referring to Mansoor Ijaz indirectly, the Ambassador said, “There are many businessmen in this world who claim to have a role in a country’s affairs, but they are not given importance. In Pakistan, however, one man’s claims create a crisis.” He added that if his name had been linked openly to the memo, he would have replied by now.

On Wednesday, the Ambassador sent a letter to the President. Sources said that the letter states that Haqqani was ready to face any inquiry against him.

Later speaking to the media, Haqqani said that he had already booked a seat to Pakistan, aiming to be back in the country before the end of the week.

Haqqani added that he had good relations with Mullen, however, he did not believe that the admiral, even as the chief of joint staff, had the power to bring about any change in the Pakistani top brass.

The ambassador said that he was being made a scapegoat for doing his job, of maintaining good relations with the US.

“Ask Mansoor Ijaz why he wrote the article? And why he was now making the claims in public?”

(Read: Our man in Washington)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Fareedi
    Nov 18, 2011 - 4:59AM

    Smells like a Rat. There is more to it than meets the eye. It may lead to an Avalanche.

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  • Sajida
    Nov 18, 2011 - 5:05AM

    Why is Haqqani the fall guy? He wasn’t the one who wrote the memo.

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  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem
    Nov 18, 2011 - 5:09AM

    I have no words to describe how much I am disappointed at this behavior by the democratic government of Pakistan and how they can ask so shamelessly another power to bring down their own country’s Army. Now I ask this question to all the liberals please tell me do these politicians deserve a power more than the Army or Pakistan’s security agencies. These politicians who can sell their own country’s defense line for their own seats and power. Just shocking this episode is and it clearly has added oil to the fire created when government gave India MFN status in a hurry without even discussing it with the biggest institutions of Pakistan. All i can say is how stupid can our politicians be, simply unprecedented…

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  • F Khan
    Nov 18, 2011 - 5:57AM

    It’s simple either fire HH or sue Financial Times/Mansoor Ijaz. This is the problem when you start playing your guli danda style of national politics in world politics.

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  • GHQ
    Nov 18, 2011 - 6:03AM

    The memogate could be the same mistake which NS did in 1999. One piece of advise to HH do not come as you may not return.

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  • Nov 18, 2011 - 6:50AM

    All about Memo, means to stop PPP from Senate elections. Our establishment never allow any politicle party specialy PPP would be able to have more power and be able to reforms according to Pakistan’s need.It looks that PPP has intentions to bring major change in foreign policy like to have good relations as it has taken step to go Iran, Moscow and India also Chin in particular. It is not bareable for some forces. Haqqani did job according to Zardai’s policy which mean to make Pakistan a presentable to the world and to take country out of the cold war time policies.

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  • Yatim-Khana
    Nov 18, 2011 - 6:54AM

    Making a mountain out of a mole hill. It is quite possible that Zardari apprehended a military coup. Anybody would be scared if a General walked in carrying a big stick – as Kayani does.

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Nov 18, 2011 - 7:58AM

    Nothing wrong in seeking help from Americans. Generals do the same when they remove elected governments.

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  • Syed
    Nov 18, 2011 - 8:04AM

    It means that Zardari and Haqqani have been caught with their pants down… removing President will be equal to a coup and it could spark violent reaction for PPP especially in Karachi…. so Haqqani is being made to pay disgracefully or haqqani is the real culprit as he picked up a loose guy to do the job.

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  • Sheeda
    Nov 18, 2011 - 8:04AM

    If Hussain gets a boot, so will Ispahani from president house…Any thoughts?

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  • Not me
    Nov 18, 2011 - 8:14AM

    Try him for high treason. Let there be full inquiry.
    There is word play in his interview.
    Foreign Office should also be taken to task…they denied this memo….

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  • Syed
    Nov 18, 2011 - 9:09AM

    This is the highest level of treason against Pakistan and its Military . I cannot spell in words but my blood is boiling – These traitors needs to be hanged publically! every single person included needs to be hanged!

    As a citizen of Pakistan I call upon Army Chief, the corp commanders and Chief Justice of Pakistan to remove these traitors and hang till death as soon as possible -This govt is not acceptable anymore!

    People read the confidential memo published in “thenews.com.pk” as well – This memo is aimed at violating Pakistan’s sovereignty from inside out! – - Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Nov 18, 2011 - 9:18AM

    The Secret Memo is already out from the White House and now is available on the local TV screen.

    Haqqani claim that “a single person can create crises, whether the claim are true or not” have proved to be wrong.

    Hussain Haqqani should tender his resignation in person to the President when he will meet the President

    By doing this, Hussain Haqqani will save the President and the PPP government to complete its tenure, otherwise, I don’t see any possibility of their surviving under the prevailing circumstances in which the “Memo” is rotating and the political situation in the country.

    Good Bye Mr. Haqqani. Recommend

  • vasan
    Nov 18, 2011 - 9:34AM

    What a pathetic country. Is it the govt of a sovereign country?. Is it the way people at the top behave. Prostrating before US, begging for alms and money and simultaneously whipping up the emotions among the public to hate them. These kind of dirty games by power hungry in the international arena all the time looking for saviours have brought the image of Pakistan to the bottom most pit. Some people keep harping that Indians and Pakistanis have lot in common. I beg to disagreeRecommend

  • Rehan
    Nov 18, 2011 - 10:05AM

    We can’t Mr. Haqqani sue Mr. Mansoor for wrong claims. he can get lot of money if prove to be inoccent.

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Nov 18, 2011 - 10:11AM

    @vasan

    Mind your own business, go and control the mega corruption going on your pathetic country, billions of $$$ of wealth from india are being looted and plundered and stored in US and European banks.

    Recommend

  • Zohaib
    Nov 18, 2011 - 10:30AM

    Has anyone even checked the credentials of Mansoor Ijaz? A FOX news political commentator,pretty anti pakistan in all of his views,a foreign deal maker with countries like iraq and sudan,anything but a plain businessman.Aside from his ancestary he has no link whatsoever with Pakistan.I fail to comprehend his motivation and timing for the leak if he was so closely involved,and then the initial denial by Mullen.Everything smells foul,more so of crafting a ridge between military and civil leadership especially after the recent show of unity against the Mullen accusations.

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  • vasan
    Nov 18, 2011 - 10:50AM

    Naeem Siddiqui : Truth hurts , isnt it. Try reading the article
    http://www.dawn.com/2011/11/18/speaking-greek.html about comparative corruption in INdia and other S Asian countries. You wouldnot know where to hide your face.

    Recommend

  • vasan
    Nov 18, 2011 - 10:58AM

    Naeem Siddiqui : Pl read the memo in the link http://tribune.com.pk/story/293845/memogate-truth-or-fiction/ especially Point 6 and You will know why it is my business to comment. Recommend

  • Tahir
    Nov 18, 2011 - 1:04PM

    @vasan:
    I think your input is not required. Being an Indian, you have no business here.

    Recommend

  • Taufiq Usman
    Nov 18, 2011 - 2:01PM

    All these things will be Easier to Understand Once you Accept the Unfortunate FACT that Pakistan is no longer a ‘FULLY FREE INDEPENDENT NATION’

    Recommend

  • M. Ahmed
    Nov 18, 2011 - 3:16PM

    Our politicians have always adopted the RPP approach. Cut and run. Dam it! Do not behave like tenants. You own the government. Pakistan Army are the guardians of the country.

    Stupid! You are cutting the very branch on which you are sitting.

    Grace or disgrace will be conferred upon you and your lot by historians.

    Recommend

  • Pundit
    Nov 18, 2011 - 4:52PM

    @Tahir: WWW stands for world wide web and its every body’s business to comment.
    Fo to Indian websites and comment to your heart’s content.

    Recommend

  • Pundit
    Nov 18, 2011 - 5:06PM

    @Sajida: How do you know? Did u write the memo?

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  • Pundit
    Nov 18, 2011 - 5:11PM

    This episode smacks of an Indian inspired RAW handiwork….Pls recommend this if you agree.

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  • Amjad
    Nov 18, 2011 - 8:20PM

    It was a real tough job for Hussain Haqqani to convince that Pakistani army was not in bed with Osama Bin Laden after being found in Kakul. Now all of a sudden so many Pakistanis who never “trusted Western media” are taking an opinion of just one paper as a page from a holy book! Where is their logic that this media always told lie like Weapon of Mass Destruction in Iraq. However, when it comes to the elected Govt of Pakistan each western paper is prophetic! Big organizations like New York and LA Times, CNN are all false, except when one of them is against democracy in Pakistan. Here is another publication which gives the other side of the story but it must be false as it does not favor the protectors of terrorists!

    Recommend

  • Chengez K
    Nov 18, 2011 - 11:57PM

    Why did Mansoor Ijaz aoounce the evil deeds of our pathetic Amabassador to U.S?

    Recommend

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