Memogate unfolding

Published: December 17, 2011
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The government has yet to complete its mandated five years; the two army officers deposing against it are on extensions after retirement. This is not the time for a regime change.

The government has yet to complete its mandated five years; the two army officers deposing against it are on extensions after retirement. This is not the time for a regime change.

The memogate trial at the Supreme Court crossed a new threshold when the honourable court received depositions from the army chief and the ISI chief. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani put his trust in the ISI chief, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who, in his deposition, affirms that the memo sent to the outgoing US army chief, Admiral Michael Mullen, was genuine and was sent by Mansoor Ijaz in consultation with the Pakistani ambassador in Washington, Husain Haqqani. The memo asked the US to stage, what some commentators think, could amount to a civilian coup against the army in Pakistan. Reportedly, the army chief, in his deposition, added, “that there may be a need to fully examine the facts and circumstances leading to the conception and issuance of the memo”.

The federal government in its deposition says the honourable court should not hear the case but wait till a parliamentary committee has completed its inquiry into the memogate affair. It has reiterated the position taken by Husain Haqqani that no one in the government and its bureaucracy was involved in the preparation of the memo sent to Admiral Mullen. It has also made reference to the latest revelation in the British daily, The Independent, that before the affair of the memo, ISI chief General Pasha had toured the Arab states friendly to Pakistan asking for their ‘approval’ for the removal of the PPP government in Islamabad.

This last bit of information was buried in the cell phone trail of the memo itself and had contributed to Mansoor Ijaz writing against the Pakistan Army in a British daily. So now we have two pieces of evidence: one against former Ambassador Haqqani and the PPP leadership, which the ISI chief has investigated and has found to be genuine; the other against the ISI chief himself which remains uninvestigated. In one case, the presumed culprit in Washington has been made to resign; in the other, the accused in the cell phone record is still in office, armed with de facto powers, together with General Kayani, to run crucial areas of the country’s domestic and foreign policy.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has explained President Zardari’s medical examination abroad by saying that he was not safe in Pakistan, that he had avoided going to hospitals in the country because of a credible terrorist threat. He also added that if his government is removed unconstitutionally, there will be no elections ‘in our lives’. On the first count, some misplaced sarcasm from our TV anchors should be ignored. In Pakistan, when there is a terrorist threat to one’s life, it should be taken seriously and there is always the possibility that it comes from the non-state actors who take their orders from certain centres of power in the country.

The political scene is as murky as ever. The opposition wants President Zardari’s ouster by whatever means before his term is out. The ruling alliance has held after a period of dangerous inter-party quarrels in which the PPP’s allies have either left the coalition or, in one case, actually asked the army to topple the government. The parliament is squarely behind the positions taken by the army on terrorism and relations with the US. The ANP, which gave evidence of consistent support to the PPP, is now sniffing the wind for new contingencies, including a removal of the government at the centre. The new ally in PML-Q has always been fragmented in its loyalty and will arguably join the MQM and the ANP if they decide to heed the toppling signals.

The case for treason against the elected government that many hope to extract from the Supreme Court has become less than open and shut. The government has yet to complete its mandated five years; the two army officers deposing against it are on extensions after retirement. This is not the time for a regime change.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2011. 

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Ali Tanoli
    Dec 17, 2011 - 12:58AM

    Democracy at crosroad tomarrow newspapers heading .

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  • indian response.
    Dec 17, 2011 - 1:11AM

    Oh so now the army wants an investigation. Is the memo-gate such a big deal in comparison to bin laden being found near army camps? Is the memo-gate such a big deal in comparison to reporters getting killed or kidnapped when they report the truth? This Pakistani army will do everything in its power to suppress what is actually good for Pakistan and promote what is good for it. If Pakistani civilians still want to stick with the army’s bluff so be it. In the end it will not be the army but the civilians who will suffer.If you think Zardari is corrupt, then u dont even want to open the check books of these army generals of urs.

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  • dasdmr
    Dec 17, 2011 - 1:26AM

    If following anchors have guts,courage,conviction,intellectual honesty then will they do a programme asking scalp of Gen.Pasha and his Boss Gen kayani and their trial under Section 6 Plotting to throw a democratically elected government,
    Talat Kashif Abbasi Kamran Khan Dr.Shahid Dr.Danish Mubassar Luqman Mehar Bukhari.
    If not then they should leave the media and go home and cook meal for their family.Recommend

  • IFTI
    Dec 17, 2011 - 2:10AM

    As it is today Pakistan has no govt.Pakistan needs a government not a DUMMY GOVERNMENT.The present govt has stayed in office for themselves not for Pakistan or people of Pakistan.Elections should be called now.Lets start playing fair.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Dec 17, 2011 - 3:00AM

    What a great and balanced Ed you have! The news says “The memo asked the US to stage, what some commentators think, could amount to a civilian coup against the army in Pakistan.”
    This crime of supermacy of elected govt over out of control generals cannot be forgiven by the army. Your last lines say it all. The unelected paid servants (generals) have given themselves extenstions after retirement and do not want the elected govt to complete its rightful term! Like the proverbial “Amar bail/vine” the generals are riding Pakistan for their own benefits and protecting terrorists.

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  • Cautious
    Dec 17, 2011 - 5:29AM

    Few in Pakistan ever take the time to analyze a situation and ask the basic question — why? No one seems to care why the President believes the military is going to overthrow him – and no one asks why your President has to leave the country for medical care because he feels he will be assassinated in the hospital. Any other country would immediately focus on the military and intelligence agencies and put them under the spot light — not Pakistan – you ignore the obvious – throw in a dash of USA conspiracy – and go off on a tangent which lets the real bad guys off the hook. Conspiracy theories are fine – but you have to temper them with some common sense.

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  • Dec 17, 2011 - 11:15AM

    @DASDMIR: I have seen the comments of Dasdmir. Although he has invited the attention of some anchors towards Army Chief and ISI but to my humble view he is wrong. Why he has not asked the Rulers to leave Pakistan as they have destroyed all the important organs of the state and now they are bent upon to malign the same.

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  • sidjeen
    Dec 17, 2011 - 1:21PM

    so every one is in shock that someone wrote a memo and no one is in shock that the army wants to remove the government that is our real problem.

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  • Sengathir Selvan
    Dec 17, 2011 - 1:55PM

    Civilian coup???? hahahha…

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  • dasmir
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:40PM

    Democracy is quite messy,arguments,demonstration,elections,votings,riggings,hartals,boycotts,resolutions,discussions,committees,adjournments,nye elections and relections.
    It doesn’t follow one command structure.Yet,so far it is the best method so far to govern a country.
    You need patience to develop such system,it may take centuries not 4 years for a democracy to come out of infancy.Thank your stars you have a very clever politician Zardari whom history will judge as a good nurse who tended a premature,weak,infant of democracy and gave it life of one term despite all odds and guns pointed at his head by Mushrraf and later kayani.
    Distance yourself and look at your country from a far and see what zardari has managed.Nothing less than a miracle in a country where People simply doesn’t know how to agitate.There are no trade unions,no presuure groups only opportunistic politicians and cut throat Jihadis.And such a diverse and rich country as Pakistan has a baggage of Islamic idiology!Recommend

  • shouvik mukherjee
    Dec 17, 2011 - 10:16PM

    Why isn’t the SC examining Ijaz’s evidence? Why is everyone taking Pasha’s word that the
    evidence is genuine?

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  • K. Salim Jahangir
    Dec 18, 2011 - 5:54PM

    General Pasha is in office because no Arab country has so far confirmed the alleged charge leveled by some,so far unknown,American intelligence person.Where as prima-facie there is irrefutable evidence against Haqqani,however we should wait till we hear from the Apex Court. Asma Jehangir, interregnum,should also use her sources to get the alleged charge confirmed,pro-bono-publico, from Arab countries.

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