I cannot but agree with Ejaz Haider’s analysis in his article, “Memogate: not curtains yet”, carried by this daily on November 19. And, while the curtain has not fallen on the stage to signal the end of this drama; I doubt if it will reach its logical conclusion i.e. indicting the perpetrators.
But I want to focus on a slightly different angle since there was, after all, nothing really surprising about all this. The fact that our head of state is prepared to stake the country, its peoples and everything else that goes with it, in an effort to keep his office, is not a revelation! Under his benign leadership we may be suffering from greater corruption than ever before and the misery of the peoples might be greater. but in staking everything to retain his office, this president is no different from his predecessor; a serving general at that time, the venerable Musharraf!
The offer of ‘greater transparency’ of our nuclear programme for the US’s satisfaction is not a ‘first’! Rumours of such an offer being made by an earlier prime minister ran rife in the mid-1990s, until General Waheed Kakar, then COAS, during a visit to the US, orchestrated a press conference where this question was posed to him and he effectively scotched the rumour with his brief response, “no government of Pakistan could survive such a sell-out”! So Zardari is in sterling company and doing neither more nor less than should be expected of him.
What continues to intrigue me are questions relating to why this disclosure should occur. What prompted Mansoor Ijaz to write an op-ed in the Financial Times on October 10? Why, after initially denying it, should Admiral Mullen confirm its existence on November 17, why should the memo then be conveniently leaked to the blog maintained by Foreign Policy? And why, immediately following this, should Mansoor make public all his email correspondence, the numbers on his cell phone on which he received calls during the period the memo was being drafted?
Since it all started with Mansoor Ijaz, let’s concentrate on him. He is a very successful Pakistani-American businessman, well linked to the US administration, though of dubious credentials. Presumably, therefore, he is not looking for a career in journalism.
Consequently, if I was the ‘investigating officer’ assigned the responsibility of discovering why this leak occurred, Zardari would certainly figure in my list of suspects. But the question that would immediately follow is: would he be unaware of the risk of being personally implicated, were the entire contents of the memo disclosed? Certainly not; Zardari might not be intellectually gifted, but he has certainly proven himself to be politically astute and a wily manipulator.
Consequently, in light of developments from November 17 onwards, the name that would head my list of suspects would no longer be Zardari, but our venerable and dearly beloved Uncle; Uncle Sam!
From the day Uncle Sam discovered that, despite their soft-spoken, laid-back, easy-going exterior, the Pakistani generals, Kayani and Pasha, are no pushovers, there has been a deliberate campaign launched by the US administration to vilify and embarrass both. While the American media has faithfully done its bit, it is Uncle Sam who pushed it. If I was to try putting a date to the transformation of this duo from US ‘darlings’ to the object of hate, it would be March 2010, when Obama walked into a meeting of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue to table his demands to Kayani and, to his surprise, Kayani responded by handing Obama a dossier with his analysis of ‘where, why, and how’ the US was erring in its Afghan policy; which would also explain why he (Kayani) was unable to fulfil US demands.
According to American media, in the meeting between Leon Panetta and General Pasha, following this event, there was “a slanging match between the two, in which the soft-spoken Pakistani general more than held his own”!
And while Admiral Mullen is a former general, both Mansoor and Haqqani are also Americans with neither a future nor any stakes in Pakistan; both more than willing to follow instructions from DC. What is more, Uncle Sam wouldn’t be at all concerned if Zardari was to get into hot soup as a by-product of this play. He is easily replaceable; others are already cuing up to take his place!
Love you; Uncle, many thanks!
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2011.