Writing for the popular American magazine, Newsweek (over his much preferred Fincancial Times) Mansoor Ijaz has claimed that Husain Haqqani had changed his BlackBerry handset and pin code three times since May to cover up his involvement in the Memogate scandal.
Ijaz claimed that ever since he published his first article, an Op-ed in the Financial Times on October 10, Haqqani had messaged and called Ijaz to ask whether the Pakistani-American businessman knew any other diplomat in Islamabad – referring to the suggestion made by Ijaz in the article with regards to the identity of the memo’s originator, the root source of which being President Asif Ali Zardari.
The interlocutor added that this message was from the third phone that Haqqani had contacted him following delivery of the memo. Ijaz said that this may have been an attempt by Haqqani to “scrub” his blackberry records clean. Ijaz further alleged that Haqqani may have sought help from his friends in the US intelligence community for this.
“Maybe he hoped that changing PINs would erase his damning conversations from my handset,” Ijaz wrote, “Unfortunately for him, they remain preserved—now in a bank vault—in exactly their original form on my original device as he and I exchanged them.”
Ijaz believed that Haqqani not only had the conversations conducted with Ijaz to hide, but from other contacts as well.
He claims that he has long acted as a back channel conduit for Pakistan in the past, mostly with India regarding the Kashmir issue and nuclear proliferation. “Haqqani approached me on May 9”, Ijaz writes in the article, adding “The message’s content and structure were entirely conceived by him and dictated to me in broad form during our initial 16-minute telephone call, with further refinements during the day by telephone, text, and BlackBerry.”
Mansoor Ijaz claims to be the one who transferred a memo from Haqqani meant for Admiral Mike Mullen. The message asked US to pressure Pakistani armed forces against a coup, along with promising to place a new ‘compliant’ national security team, allow boots on the ground and better system to secure nuclear weapons.
Husain Haqqani has denied that he ever drafted or instructed any one to draft a memo on his behalf. Haqqani, though, has since resigned from his post as Pakistani ambassador to the US and a commission has been formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the matter.
Did Haqqani and Zardari plan the memo in anticipation of a history changing event?
In perhaps the most damning claim that Ijaz makes, he suggests that Zardari and Haqqani not only knew of the Osama Bin Laden raid in advance, but had given CIA the green light for it. Haqqani even orchestrated a trip to London to synchronise with the raid to have the element of plausible deniability.
“Zardari and Haqqani both knew the US was going to launch a stealth mission to eliminate bin Laden that would violate Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Ijaz presumes, “They may have even given advance consent after CIA operations on the ground in Pakistan pinpointed the Saudi fugitive’s location.”
The reason that Zardari and Haqqani may have hatched the plan, including the memo, Ijaz ‘analyses’, may have been a way wherein Zardari would have been able to get mass public support behind him to remove the powerful generals in Kayani and Pasha, subvert the army to civilian rule. Meanwhile, the Americans would have gotten bin Laden, the most coveted prize in a long fruitless war.
“They planned to use the Pakistani public’s hue and cry to force the resignations of Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and intelligence chief Gen. Shuja Pasha,” Ijaz argues.
Haqqani denies Ijaz’s latest allegations
In a letter written by Husain Haqqani to Tina Brown, the editor of The Daily Beast website and Newseek magazine, the former ambassador rebutted allegations made in Ijaz’s analysis appearing on Saturday, that he did not discuss any “hare brained scheme against the Pakistani military”.
Haqqani wrote “In the strongest terms possible, I categorically reject as reckless, baseless and false the allegations levied against me by Mr Mansoor Ijaz about prior knowledge of US plans for a raid in Abbottabad in violation of Pakistani sovereignty to eliminate Osama bin Laden as well as his earlier charges about my role in a memo he wrote and sent to the US Chairman Joint Chiefs.”
Pakistan’s former ambassador to US continued, explaining his presence in London on May 1, “I was in Washington DC until the evening of May 1 ET when I boarded a flight for London on way to Dubai and Islamabad.” Haqqani added that upon hearing of the raid, he returned to Washington from Heathrow the following after noon without entering UK.
Haqqani further explained his repeat visit to London as “My visit to London on May 9-10 to meet with senior British officials was to discuss reconciliation in Afghanistan and discuss Pakistan-UK and US-Pakistan relations in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid.”
Haqqani, who is now facing an inquiry set up by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, threatened that unless Newsweek retracted Ijaz’s article, he would initiate legal action against the magazine.