Mullen denies secret back channel in US-Pakistan ties

Published: November 10, 2011
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Earlier, a Pakistani-American had claimed that Zardari had hoped to replace the Pakistani army and intelligence. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Earlier, a Pakistani-American had claimed that Zardari had hoped to replace the Pakistani army and intelligence. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

In the months following the Abbottabad raid, Islamabad was abuzz with rumours that the PPP-led coalition government was scrambling to save itself from an impending military coup. The claims made by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz in a now notorious op-ed, have now been denied, in the first official US comment on the memo, the Foreign Policy magazine reported in an exclusive given by The Cable.

In his op-ed in the Financial Times, Ijaz had alleged that President Asif Ali Zardari had offered to replace Pakistan’s military and intelligence leadership and cut ties with militant groups in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad. Ijaz also alleged that Zardari communicated this offer by sending a top secret memo on May 10 through Ijaz himself, to be hand-delivered to Adm Michael Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In comments given to The Cable, Mullen’s spokesperson at the time, Capt John Kirby denied the claims made by Ijaz, saying Mullen did not know Ijaz and had no recollection of receiving any correspondence from him.

“I cannot say definitively that correspondence did not come from him — the admiral received many missives as chairman from many people every day, some official, some not. But he does not recall one from this individual. And in any case, he did not take any action with respect to our relationship with Pakistan based on any such correspondence … preferring to work at the relationship directly through Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and inside the interagency process.”

Several parts of the civilian government denied that Ijaz’s memorandum ever existed. On Oct 30, presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar called Ijaz’s op-ed a “fantasy article” and criticised the newspaper for running it in the first place.

“Mansoor Ijaz’s allegation is nothing more than a desperate bid by an individual, whom recognition and credibility has eluded, to seek media attention through concocted stories,” Babar said. “Why would the president of Pakistan choose a private person of questionable credentials to carry a letter to US officials? Since when has Mansoor become a courier of messages of the president of Pakistan?”

On Oct 31, Ijaz issued a lengthy statement in which he reiterated his claims and threatened to reveal the “senior Pakistani official” that purportedly sent him on his mission. Ijaz went as far as to quote Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, telling Zardari and his staff, “If you stop telling lies about me, I might just stop telling the truth about you.”

Secret interlocutor

However, a deeper look into Ijaz’s background provides evidence that this hasn’t been the first time the influential businessman has raised controversy concerning his alleged role as a secret international diplomat. In 1996, he was accused of trying to extort money from the Pakistani government in exchange for delivering votes in the US House of Representatives on a Pakistan-related trade provision.

Ijaz, who runs the firm Crescent Investment Management LLC in New York, has been an interlocutor between US officials and foreign government for years, amid constant accusations of financial conflicts of interest. He reportedly arranged meetings between US officials and former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

He also reportedly gave over $1 million to Democratic politicians in the 1990s and attended Christmas events at former President Bill Clinton’s White House. Ijaz has ties to former CIA Director James Woolsey and his investment firm partner is Reagan administration official James Alan Abrahamson.

Attempts to reach Ijaz for comment the magazine were unsuccessful.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Not me
    Nov 10, 2011 - 10:29AM

    “”I cannot say definitively that correspondence did not come from him ….”
    Read this carefully.And it has taken over 45 days for this statement.

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  • a1mohajir
    Nov 10, 2011 - 11:34AM

    ijaz is telling the truth.

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  • Hamid
    Nov 10, 2011 - 2:41PM

    Everything relating to mullen is dirty.

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  • Maulana Diesel
    Nov 10, 2011 - 2:44PM

    When will the US and the UK governments put these hedgefund managers and bankers in jail for ruining the world economy because of their greed and parasitic culture.

    Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Nov 10, 2011 - 3:39PM

    @Maulana Diesel:
    As soon as you start locking up your stratigic assets !!!!

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  • Syed
    Nov 10, 2011 - 7:03PM

    @Hedgefunder, you look like a hired blogger to me as the time difference in your reply to Maulana diessel is amazing :) – As an fyi – It doesn’t mean that that I am supporting Maulana Diesel comments :)

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  • Hedgefunder
    Nov 10, 2011 - 8:09PM

    @Syed:
    well when i saw that comment, it was 11am here and could not resist to reply to such pathetic and irrelevent comment in relation to the article concerned.
    I get email alerts to the replies.

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  • Tariq
    Nov 10, 2011 - 8:58PM

    Cresent Investment is not a hedge fund. In fact it has revenues of only 1.4 million per year and about 2 employees.

    http://www.manta.com/c/mmyr0kh/crescent-investment-management

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  • Salman
    Nov 10, 2011 - 9:54PM

    Hedgefunder

    What about your Indian strategic assets sitting in more than 50 consulates in afghanistan these days ?

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  • Syed
    Nov 10, 2011 - 9:59PM

    @Hedgefunder: Thanks for the reply, I also get the email alerts to the replies but “only” for my posted comments – Can you explain me how to configure the email alert as I don’t see your comments posted here before the first ever comments made by Maulana Diesel. Kind of a interesting stuff to know:)

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  • Cautious
    Nov 10, 2011 - 10:01PM

    Zardari demanded that the ISI report to him when he first got in office — if Zardari had the ability/means to fire the top brass of the military he would have done so when they turned him down.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Nov 10, 2011 - 10:13PM

    @Salman:
    Do your Home work first, please !!!
    From where do you get the figure of “50” Consulates????
    Rgen come back and we can discuss rge matter further!!! OK?

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  • Nov 10, 2011 - 10:30PM

    The point is that Government of Pakistan should file a law suit against Financial Times. This will bring out the truth as FT has to reveal the evidence in support of this claim by Mansoor Ijaz. Secondly the Mullen spokesperson did not categorically denied that there was no memo. All he said was that there is no recollection of it. It must not be hard to find the truth as if Ijaz hand delivered the memo there has to be an entry of his appointment in Admiral Mullen’s schedule on that day.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Nov 11, 2011 - 12:44AM

    @Syed:
    I really don’t know as to how, but when i registered my dedicated email for news and media reports and feedback, it seems to give me a ping as soon as another msg has been placed.

    Recommend

  • Pundit
    Nov 11, 2011 - 1:12AM

    “Several parts of the civilian government denied that Ijaz’s memorandum ever existed.”

    ‘In Denial We Live’ the Paki motto.

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  • Pundit
    Nov 11, 2011 - 1:39AM

    ““Why would the president of Pakistan choose a private person of questionable credentials to carry a letter to US officials?”

    Isnt the answer obvious? ISI has its tentacles everywhere and so if Zardari wanted……

    Interestingly the article has no author…does that mean its an ISI handout?

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  • Sao Lao
    Nov 11, 2011 - 9:25AM

    It doesn’t really matter what he has to say it anyway. He is a liar

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