A controversy that started with such fanfare has limped to a stalemate, making everyone wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place. Of course, the flip side of this argument is that all the parties seem to have been let-off quite lightly and perhaps, that is one reason why they aren’t taking much of an interest in it. The memogate controversy started to peter out when American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz refused to travel to Pakistan to testify in front of a judicial commission and a parliamentary committee. It is now, all but dead, after Husain Haqqani — the main protagonist of the drama — was finally allowed to leave the country. Not only did memogate consume our body politic for many weeks, it may have snatched from the country one of its most able diplomats.
While the controversy was playing out, it seemed as if memogate may ultimately be responsible for a seismic shift in relations between the civilians and the military. All that remained to be seen was which direction the balance of power would shift. Ultimately that shift failed to materialise although for once, the civilians were actually able to look the military leadership in the eye and not cower. In Pakistan, that represents progress of a kind. And while just about everyone came out of the memogate controversy having sullied their reputations, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani ended up smelling of roses. He cast-off the image of a timid yes-man who would simply drift along with the political winds. He fired the military-approved defence secretary and he lashed out against the army and the ISI chiefs and vowed that they wouldn’t be given any further extensions. There may have been no concrete shift in the military-civilian dynamic but at least there was a rhetorical shift.
A succession of Supreme Court rulings against the government led many to believe that the Court may have revealed itself to be more sympathetic to the military rather than the civilians. The judicial commission it set up to investigate the memogate issue more thoroughly, is still in place but without Haqqani and Ijaz in the country, it looks as if it will be impossible for it to come up with a credible judgment. Hopefully, this means that the government can breathe easy and serve out its term without the hindrance of ginned-up controversies.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2012.
More in EditorialThe truth behind madrassas