In a key development in the Memogate scandal, a principal player has jumped into the fray – potentially turning the case on the matter, currently under scrutiny in the Supreme Court, on its head.
Gen (retd) James Logan Jones, former US national security adviser, and the man that handed the memo to the then-chief of US military, has said, in an affidavit to be filed in the court, that Mansoor Ijaz not once mentioned the name of principal accused Husain Haqqani in their conversations leading up to the sending of the unofficial communiqué.
He also cast serious doubts on the veracity of Ijaz’s claims that the memo had the backing of the “highest authorities” in Pakistan. In fact, he has stressed that he had no reason to believe that Haqqani had anything to do with it, and that the document was probably not “credible”.
Jones’ three-page statement has been given to Asma Jahangir for filing in the Supreme Court. Talking to The Express Tribune, Jahangir, who is representing former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, said she would be filing the document in the court registrar’s office on Monday.
The affidavit, which was drafted and attested by notary public on December 12, reads:
“I was in private life at all times relevant to the matters (memogate). I make this affidavit in response to a request from Pakistani counsel for former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani. It is my understanding that the affidavit may be used on his behalf with respect to an investigation currently under way in Pakistan”.
Citing details of the contact by Mansoor Ijaz, Jones said in the affidavit, “A few days before May 9, 2011 I received a phone call from Mr Mansoor Ijaz. I have known Mr Ijaz in a personal capacity since 2006. During the call Mr Ijaz mentioned that he had a message from the “highest authority” in the Pakistan government which he asked me to relay to then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen. At no time during the call do I remember Mr Ijaz mentioning Ambassador Haqqani, and he gave me no reason to believe that he was acting at the direction of Ambassador Haqqani, with his participation, or that Ambassador Haqqani had knowledge of the call or contents of the message.
“On May 9th I received an email from Mr Ijaz attaching an unsigned memo. The e-mail was sent to my personal e-mail address by Mr Ijaz. The memo was not marked classified or restricted … Mr Ijaz again stated that the memo was authorised by the ‘highest authority’ within the Pakistan government. Mr Ijaz asked that I deliver the memo to Admiral Mullen. It was my assumption that the memo was written by Mr Ijaz, since the memo essentially put into writing the language he had used in our telephone conversation earlier,” Jones said.
He added: “I do not recall whether Mr Ijaz claimed that Ambassador Haqqani had any role in the creation of the memo. I have no reason to believe that Ambassador Haqqani had any role in the creation of the memo, nor that he had any prior knowledge of the memo. Upon my reading of the memo that I was asked to forward Admiral Mullen, it struck me as highly unusual that the ‘highest authority’ in the Pakistan government would use Mr Ijaz, a private citizen and part-time journalist living in Europe, as a conduit for this communication. My personal opinion was that the memo was probably not credible.”
Jones went on to say, “… I felt obligated to forward it, as requested, to Admiral Mullen. Admiral Mullen, in his official capacity was better able to make a judgment as to the memo’s credibility … Accordingly on May 10th, I emailed the memo to Admiral Mullen. It is my understanding from Admiral Mullen’s public statement on the matter that he reviewed the memo, did not find it credible, and did not take any action.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2011.