Memogate: Who’s lying to whom – and why?

Published: November 22, 2011

Ambassador Haqqani will present his point of view at a much-anticipated meeting between the civilian and military leadership likely to take place today. PHOTO: AFP/FILE.

ISLAMABAD: Based solely on the earnestness of their respective assertions, you wouldn’t know who is lying.

As the drama of the Memogate scandal unfolds, both embattled Ambassador Hussain Haqqani and his accuser, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, continue to vociferously stick to their guns.

What remains to be seen is who will blink first.

In the meantime, away from the glare of the public debate, Haqqani will present his point of view at a much-anticipated meeting between the civilian and military leadership likely to take place today (Tuesday).

President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani are likely to throw their weight behind Haqqani when he is quizzed by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha over his alleged role in the purported secret memo allegedly sent to US officials on his behalf.

Ahead of the high-level meeting, Haqqani held informal meetings with the president on Sunday to convince him that he had no role in the secret memo delivered by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz in May this year to then US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen seeking help to rein in the country’s powerful military establishment.

Sources disclosed that Haqqani appears to have convinced the president that ‘Memogate’ was a conspiracy orchestrated by elements who want to destabilise the democratic system.

An official privy to the developments told The Express Tribune that the Presidency has not ruled out the entire episode being a well-thought-out attempt to weaken the civilian administration. A source close to Ambassador Haqqani even went to the extent of pointing fingers at certain elements of the security establishment.

“They (the security establishment) may not have been part of the conspiracy in the beginning, but now they may have decided to jump on the wagon,” the source claimed.

Ijaz is known for his strong anti-Pakistan and anti-military establishment views, the source added, questioning how the DG ISI just went ahead to meet a man with ‘dubious’ credentials.

Haqqani is expected to ask these counter- questions in his defence. A security official, when approached, termed the matter ‘very serious’ suggesting that someone will have to pay the price. “It is not that simple that you just escape by suggesting that this is a conspiracy,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

However, it is said that President Zardari has no intentions to ‘ditch a person who has been the key mediator between him and Washington.’ “Even if Haqqani’s resignation is accepted, he is likely to be accommodated and offered a key government slot,” said a PPP member close to the Presidency.

Meanwhile, Haqqani’s wife Farahnaz Ispahani told reporters on Monday that she and her husband are ready to face any legal action regarding the controversy. Speaking to media outside the Supreme Court, Isphahani, who is also media adviser of the president, said they will sue Ijaz in court for what she called “falsely implicating her husband” if the top PPP leadership permits it.

Ijaz adamant

Ijaz, meanwhile, has alleged that he has known the ambassador for more than 11-12 years and that his claims of having met him three or four times were a “flat lie”. In an exclusive interview with Express 24/7’s Maria Zulfiqar, Ijaz said that the people of Pakistan should ask themselves why such a Herculean effort was being made to cover it all up. Ijaz said that it was a “conspiracy of the making of Haqqani and his boss or bosses”.

Responding to a question on who was “minding” Haqqani, Ijaz said that Zardari was involved. “There is a desperate attempt going on in Pakistan to create a firewall inside the PPP government between Haqqani and the president.”

Ijaz said that the president had explained his problem to Haqqani after the May 2 raid in Abbottabad (which killed Osama bin Laden) and that Haqqani had given his assurance that he would “take care of it”.

“I do not believe today that Zardari had any knowledge of the specifics of the memo … I do believe he gave a blanket approval to Haqqani. “It is very clear Zardari is giving the orders but the question is where instructions to Zardari coming from?”

Ijaz said that the objective of the memo was to get Mullen to make a call to Kayani for a private chat between the two army chiefs to say that “let’s take stock of the situation and calm everyone down”. He said that the objective had been achieved and that the feedback from both sides was the same.

“They can run and hide all they want, the facts are already there. Nobody can challenge my facts,” he added. He said Haqqani had used him because he was a “plausibly deniable” person. He said the option of delivering the message verbally was also there, but the option was too soft for him. “If things went wrong, I would be the only one who would get burned. I am shocked the government of Pakistan is hell bent on covering this up”. He said the government should own up to the memo and say “damn right we wrote the memo, because we were afraid that the boots were coming.”

Responding to a question on when he would go to Pakistan to testify, he said he did not care who called him as long as it was an official process.

(Read: The case of the crooked missive)

(WITH INPUT FROM SHAHERYAR POPALZAI)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • SaudiRules
    Nov 22, 2011 - 6:34AM

    A security official, when approached, termed the matter ‘very serious’ suggesting that someone will have to pay the price.
    Dear unnamed security official,
    Did anybody from “security” quom paid price for OBL humiliation? Or for how US navy seals picnic-ed for two hours all the way deep inside abbottabad? What about PNS mehran, when SSG commandos took more than a day to get thing under control and the attackers escaped anyway? Surely all these matters were “very serious” also, no?

    Recommend

  • Shady Ijaz
    Nov 22, 2011 - 6:40AM

    So there is a person who is proven liar, has time and again back stabbed the civilian governments including that of Benazir Bhutto, has offered things and appeared with fake letters to Indian government, Sudanese government and the Clinton administration on one side and

    Hussain Haqqani who could have easily taken out Mullen for a drink and delivered a verbal message on the other.

    If there is still any confusion the Pasha-Ijaz meeting clears up the mist. Seems more like a last ditch effort carefully coordinated with PTI really and restarting of NRO case.

    Recommend

  • Shah
    Nov 22, 2011 - 6:48AM

    Haqqani, Ijaz Mansoor and General Pasha are playing with future of democracy and civilian rule!

    Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Nov 22, 2011 - 6:57AM

    This is undoubtedly a conspiracy and an Independent Commission, an oxymoron statement at that, could determine and publicly present their findings within 15 days. There is sufficient evidence that cannot be destroyed electronically and therefore convictions are possible. Mrs. Haqqani has stated that they will sue Mansoor Ijaz for slander and defamation. Ijaz is a rich man and if the Haqqani’s have a case they should proceed against him in the UK or US. They could destroy Mansoor Ijaz. But they will not because MemoGate defamation suit will open up a Pandora’s Box on Pakistani leadership’s habitual and consistent collusion with Foreign Powers. In typical Pakistani fashion MemoGate will die its usual death as Ch. Shujaat says. He should know as he is the guru of all conspiracies.

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  • SM
    Nov 22, 2011 - 7:23AM

    Get rid of Haqqani….

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  • M. A. Changezi
    Nov 22, 2011 - 7:56AM

    I don’t believe in what this guy is saying. He’s not a well reputed person anyway. I have actually met him once in the U.S (while I was studying) but after a little chat I decided to keep me distance from him. He was very boastful about his wealth (he ain’t as wealthy as much as he brags). He probably made his little fortune with dishonesty.

    My guess is the head of Armed forces would clear Haqqani of all charges.

    Long live Pakistan.

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  • H.A. Khan
    Nov 22, 2011 - 8:23AM

    The issue is very serious and it has made Pakistan look like an out of control country.

    I feel the Government should request the Honourable Supreme Court to form a two /three member commission, inquire into this sad affair and submit it’s report in 15 days.

    One thing for sure, Mr ijaz could not have done this memo without Mr Haqqani asking/telling him. There is lot of evidence that prima facie goes against Mr Haqqani

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  • Imran
    Nov 22, 2011 - 8:52AM

    “Pasha has forensically checked my blackberry”. What expertise does this Pasha has for analyzing the authenticity of the data. Just because he is the administrative head of a spy agency, makes him a credible expert on the matter.
    Panetta is the CIA head, I doubt he will ever use his own evaluation on technical matters. In Pakistan, everyone is a professional and everyone is a senior expert.

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  • Pakistani Police
    Nov 22, 2011 - 8:54AM

    Just give me HH for 10 minutes in drawing room with chitar no 46 and i will tell you who is lying.

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  • Wellwisher
    Nov 22, 2011 - 9:26AM

    If HH has to resign, why don’t he be made DEFENSE MINISTER

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  • Somy
    Nov 22, 2011 - 9:50AM

    @Pakistani Police:
    Take pasha, you will know many things.

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  • Aamir
    Nov 22, 2011 - 10:20AM

    Too much confusion. This seems an attempt to keep Pakistani people busy in nonsense while some playing dirty games in between..There is no angel in any department, just jackals.

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  • Ex
    Nov 22, 2011 - 11:06AM

    @SaudiRules:
    Why do Indias troll so much ?
    There is difference between trying failing to do something

    And actively seeking to undermine country
    Obl mission was 45 min and Pns Mehran was over in one night unlike Mumbai which took 3 days

    Recommend

  • Shahid Kureshi
    Nov 22, 2011 - 11:19AM

    The Army Chief and the DG ISI desire what is in the best National Interest from the point of view of National Defence. Its their task to identify and eliminate all possible threats to Pakistan, its integrity and sovereignty, to the best of their abilities with the capability provided. These are not individuals representing their personal constituencies and involved in establishing individual ascendency. Having said that, I think immediate replacement of HH with a professional Diplomat from the Pakistan Foreign Service would suffice to put there concerns at rest.

    As far as the legal implications are concerned, we have the Judiciary to take care of that aspect should the need arise. To construe this episode to be a tussle between the civillian government would not be proper.Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Nov 22, 2011 - 11:52AM

    This is do or die battle for the civilian govt which will dictate the future equation between them and the military. Best of luck to the democratic elected govt.

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  • Me2
    Nov 22, 2011 - 12:08PM

    @Pakistani Police:
    In bad taste. No dignity man?? (or ma’am) You are writing to a respectable forum.

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  • Ali Noor
    Nov 22, 2011 - 12:09PM

    I hope they invite the auditor general of Pakistan to the questioning session as well. I am hoping every Pakistani would like to see the financial statements of not only the army and isi but also fauji foundation, shaheen airlines, askari foundation, the defence housing authority and FWO. Surely questioning is a two way stream and its high time the books are opened. If the army can’t be questioned it should automatically loose the option of questioning democratically elected representatives.

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  • Parvez
    Nov 22, 2011 - 12:54PM

    In this drama it seems that each player is trying to discredit the others by lying and deceit. The audience is the people of Pakistan in whose eyes they all stand guilty.

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  • Top brass
    Nov 22, 2011 - 1:20PM

    Top lot…… all seller. nobody is innocent accept Pakistani nation(Animal Farm)

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 22, 2011 - 1:24PM

    A security official, when approached, termed the matter ‘very serious’ suggesting that someone will have to pay the price.

    Since when has Pakistan’s security or Army forces ever paid price for anything???
    1965 war with india, who paid the price? loss of East Pakistan, who paid the price???
    Kargil adventure, who paid the price??

    Let me tell you who really paid the price of these adventurism in past, it was thousands of rank and file soldiers who lost their lives on battlefield.
    The civilian population too has paid price, as large part of Nation’s resources is always taken by the Armed Forces in order to maintain their huge personal and equipment, while there are multiple problems facing the Citizens of this Country!!!!!
    Making Bold Comments Does Not Solve Problems !!!Recommend

  • AN
    Nov 22, 2011 - 1:30PM

    HH, Kayani and Pasha should all resign. this is the handiwork of the military to oust Zardari without a official coup de tat and then control thru proxies.
    Army has taken over already gentlemen. Imran will be a great choice as a proxy. Ex foeignr minister can take over as PM. he learnt about the power of the military in his last assignment and knows who wears the boots!

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  • Well_wisher
    Nov 22, 2011 - 1:34PM

    @Ex:

    Why you are taking pride in street attacks like Mumbai attacks. 10 of so called “non state” actors with AK47s shooting hysterically at unarmed commuters in one of the most populous cities in the world, obviously very difficult to contain.

    Mehran is defense establishment well guarded 24/7 by commandos and OBL attack was done by USA.

    If I want to take pride that will be 1971 war which completed in 13 days.

    Recommend

  • Nov 22, 2011 - 1:43PM

    @Shahid Kureshi

    Do you honestly believe that persons heading any organisation, at home or abroad, have
    reached the top because of their professional abilities?Recommend

  • hedgefunder
    Nov 22, 2011 - 1:57PM

    @H.A. Khan:
    The issue is very serious and it has made Pakistan look like an out of control country

    Yes its serious ! So was the very fact that certain OBL was residng for few years in heart of Pakitan and stone’s throw from Army institution !!!
    What happened to that enquiry or investigation??? Perhaps it was too blatant, for the consumption of Pakistani people!!!
    Pakistan is the country which is out of control and listed on Failed State list for that very reason. This is not an illusion but sadly an fact.

    Recommend

  • Shahid Kureshi
    Nov 22, 2011 - 3:14PM

    @Abid P. Khan:

    What else do you have in mind?

    Recommend

  • Asad Hasan
    Nov 22, 2011 - 4:27PM

    To my mind the issue is very clear. We all understand what must have happened.
    The point is that Mr. Haqqani should have realized that he was representing the Government of Pakistan, and he was not someone’s personal serf.
    For him to have acted otherwise, on whosoever’s orders or command is an act of treason and MUST be tried in a court of law. Otherwise it will set a terribly wrong precedent.
    It is high time that out of turn, non-establishment, untrained so called Diplomats understand that a diplomatic posting is not a sunny holiday resort and is best left to trained civil servants who understand how to deal with such situations and who would under no circumstances take any irrelevant orders, messages, memos, sms, or letters from anyone other than established diplomatic lines.

    Recommend

  • hedgefunder
    Nov 22, 2011 - 5:49PM

    @Asad Hasan:
    Have you ever had any dealings with Pakistan’s so called trained Civil Servants???
    If you had, than rest assure you would not hold them in high esteem !!!
    Your man is Washington is the best of the lot, who have respect and knowledge of the Lawmakers in both the houses and has direct repore with many influential members.

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Naeem
    Nov 22, 2011 - 9:11PM

    MI’s contradictions

    (1) “It is very clear Zardari is giving the orders but the question is where instructions to Zardari coming from?”

    how come he know about zardari orders and even to the extent of his bosses… are MI’s bosses the same one to whome he is pointing finger!!

    (2) “If things went wrong, I would be the only one who would get burned. I am shocked the government of Pakistan is hell bent on covering this up”.

    what is at stack for him…. in contrast on the other hand there is credibility of whole Pakistani system at risk along with future of democracy!!

    please MI tell us seriously do u feel something for Pakistan. elaborate..

    Recommend

  • mk
    Nov 22, 2011 - 9:42PM

    @Hedgefunder

    I beg to differ with your views and feel that you haven’t been exposed to professional and honest civil servants. There are many good officers out there who can replace HH or other political appointees anytime on merit and intellectual ability and they must be given a chance. President, PM and Army/ Intelligence Services should not be allowed to lobby for anyone. If postings are carried out on merit, then we would see proper functioning of the FO, this goes for other institutions as well. I strongly endorse @Asad Hassan’s views on this subject.

    Recommend

  • Hash
    Nov 22, 2011 - 9:46PM

    Don’t get rid of Haqqani, get rid of Haqqani Network and all similar outfits our noble instituion has been backing up for the last 30 years.

    Recommend

  • Lawangin
    Nov 22, 2011 - 10:06PM

    Look, timing of these events is significant factor. Remember May 2, incident when the OBL was killed and the world was caught by surprise. American forces were search the guy in Afghanistan, while he was enjoying his days close to the military city of Abbottabad. The US had very clear point to make. There could be two reasons why OBL was there. One, he was protected by the mighty of the Mightyiest of Pakistan. If not, they these mighty are incapable to know about their own house. The first was serious but the other situation more serious than the first one. OBL was gone and this could have not been proven who did what. But the other option of incomptency could invite the UN attention to take care of nuclear assets. In such a situation the reaction of PPP government was childesh. They could have taken a clear stand and come clearn on this account. Let us what is there in future for Pakistan

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  • M. A. Changezi
    Nov 23, 2011 - 10:04AM

    HH falls! I still don’t believe in what Mansoor Ijaz says. He loves to fabricate things and I am saying it from personal experience.

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  • truth finder
    Nov 28, 2011 - 2:16PM

    @all. we have 2 be realistic in assessing the situation. it is all the wrong doin of mansoor ijaz (hypocrite). he had defamed his own country. God knws who he is working for. i listened on ARY news the other day an analyst saying that mansoor has strong friendly relations with isrealis and is a member of the qadiani gp. wt does he has to do with isreal?. Gen Pasha does nt hav time to meet such a noboy. y wud army want the civil govt to quit on the OBL incident. it doesnt make sense. it was the doin of the americans not the Pak govt. besides, the allegations in the memogate are quite serious. any patriotic person would trial both mansoor and haqqani for treason. lets not involve Army /ISI in a civilian matter. the civil govt is to be held accountable for such matter. we shud think objectively

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