Memogate contradictions

Published: January 20, 2012
The writer is an economist and a former adviser to the Sindh chief minister on planning and development

The writer is an economist and a former adviser to the Sindh chief minister on planning and development

The political crisis rages on, with the Supreme Court leading the charge. The battle lines were sharpened when Asma Jahangir withdrew from the memogate case, citing lack of confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. She was of the view that the Supreme Court placed the concept of national security above that of fundamental rights. These grave developments and Ms Jahangir’s assertions need to be addressed with all the seriousness they deserve.

The so-called memo is a spurious and worthless piece of paper, whose authorship no one is claiming, and which has been tossed in the trash can by the person for whom it was intended, then-US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen, and by the courier, former US National Security Adviser General (retd) James Jones. There are contradictions galore. Mansoor Ijaz has made two statements: one, claiming that the said memo was authored by former ambassador Husain Haqqani and the other that the ISI chief toured Middle Eastern countries to lobby for support to remove the democratically elected government. The Supreme Court has accepted the first Mansoor Ijaz statement as credible enough to place Husain Haqqani on the Exit Control List and launch a full-scale judicial investigation. At the same time, it has ignored the second of Mansoor Ijaz’s statement and instead accepted the ISPR version. How is it that the court has pre-supposed one of Mansoor Ijaz’s statements as weighty enough and found another not worthy of consideration?

The Supreme Court judgment states that a probe is called for in order to ensure enforcement of fundamental rights. The connection is somewhat far-fetched and is reminiscent of the referendum ordered by General Zia, whereby a ‘yes’ vote for Islam was also considered to be an endorsement for the dictator to remain in power for five years!

The loss of East Pakistan apart, there have been many situations and occasions over the last three decades — unlike the frivolous piece of paper that the Supreme Court has placed on a pedestal — whence there have been tangible threats to the security of the state and to the lives of the people and thousands of civilian, police and military lives have been actually lost. It is now 26 years since 1985 that blood is being spilled on Karachi streets. How is it that thousands of sophisticated weaponry continues to be smuggled into the country and distributed freely for use in the country’s prime metropolis? Which agency is responsible for protecting the people from the influx and use of illegal arms? Who will hold these agencies accountable?

How is it that a two-bit mullah ran a clandestine radio station in Swat and aired seditious hate propaganda for years without being apprehended? After all, the technology to track down the origin of radio signals was available even during World War II. Which agency was responsible for controlling such illegal activities that spiraled into an actual threat to the integrity of the state and which required a full-scale military operation to subdue? Who will hold these agencies accountable?

How is it that sophisticated arms were stockpiled in Lal Masjid in the centre of the federal capital, leading to a battle that engaged the Pakistan army for days and actually cost the lives of many soldiers. What guarantee is there that an external enemy force will also not be able to stockpile an arsenal in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta or Karachi and launch an attack on the country from within?

How is it that a foreign military force succeeded in penetrating to the outskirts of a premier military cantonment in the heart of the country, carried out an operation for almost an hour and escaped? What guarantee is there that a country that harbours enmity against Pakistan — India or Israel — will not be able to carry out a similar operation against our nuclear assets? What greater security threat can the country have actually faced? Who will hold the responsible agencies accountable?

If the Supreme Court considers it within its domain to defend national security above all else, it must also take cognisance of these actual threats to national security and to the actual losses of civilians and military lives. Otherwise, the so-called memogate issue, being billed as a conspiracy against the state’s security organisations, will be perceived as a conspiracy against the Constitution, against democracy and against the democratically-elected parliament.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Arifq
    Jan 20, 2012 - 9:01PM

    I second writers proposal!


  • Uza Syed
    Jan 20, 2012 - 9:10PM

    Wow, some hard hitting questions asked very precisely —– no beating about bush —– hey —– I like it!


  • Shahzad
    Jan 20, 2012 - 9:26PM

    It would have been a wonderfully written piece had the author not ignored one fundamental fact – the ongoing trial is not a suo-moto case but was petitioned to SC by the very intelligent chief of opposition party, namely Mian Nawaz Sharif. The court only accepted it to be admissible. The stance taken in the article would stand to reason if the earlier instances of the apparent breach of national security as highlighted by the author were petitioned but rejected by the courts.


  • Jan 20, 2012 - 9:43PM

    strong text“Hats off” …Great Article,very impressive.


  • Seizure
    Jan 20, 2012 - 9:47PM

    “The so-called memo is a spurious and worthless piece of paper”
    The memo is a sub-judicious matter, the judges can decide that. Let’s keep a wait-and-watch policy for now.


  • Jan 20, 2012 - 10:02PM

    Absolutely brilliant article by Mr. Kaiser Bengali! The points raised are pertinent and need to be addressed if justice is to be seen to be done. The Supreme has displayed bias and a one eyed view (no pun intended) on many matters during the last few years. And yet it wants us, the people of Pakistan, to forgive and forget the role of the the judiciary during the last 60 years. Is it so easy to forget the scuttling of democracy in the Tamizuddin case or the grant of sanctity to a military takeover in the Dosso case to the judicial murder of one of the most brilliant minds that we have produced? In fact the sanctioning of legality to an overthrow of a duly elected government continued right up to the Musharraf era and the present Chief Justice was a part and parcel of the bench that granted him recognition. The proof of the pudding always lies in the eating and mere words spoken by anyone can not set at rest the doubts that still linger in the minds of the people about the stand that the judiciary says it will take if the situation arises. Even today it is not the threat from the Supreme Court but other extraneous factors that have prevented scuttling of the ship of democracy.
    Several recent decisions of the court are difficult to reconcile with many basic principles of jurisprudence. For example the decision to bar Mr. Husain Haqqani from leaving the country even without hearing him violates a basic maxim of law that no one shall be condemned unheard. Such is the unfortunate conduct of the Court which asks us to forgive and forget.


  • Shahid
    Jan 20, 2012 - 10:06PM

    @Shahzad: THe chief justice is the master of taking suo motto notices so what is stopping him to take suo moto notice ?. Pakistan should follow a total non alligned policy and develop friendly relations with all neighbours. We have no threat from any quarters. We need to cut down the size of our army and intelligence agencies drasticaly and spend that money on common masses. until army is not reduced in size democracy and rule of law has no chances in this country.


  • Amir Baig
    Jan 20, 2012 - 10:47PM

    Excellent Mr. Qaiser, as always you spoke the real truth!!!

    They are paying NO attention to several references that Mr. Ijaz gave about the role of ISI and Army in creating mess for the country. No one is considering those statements of his for a trial.

    Judiciary’s clean role for the last couple of years is on serious threat now. They better handle this with ZERO bias.


  • Salim
    Jan 20, 2012 - 10:56PM

    The so called Memo was written by an American national to an American(Admiral Mike Mullen) but the Pakistani nation is in a spin and charged up for nothing.We have to cool down and start thinking logically.Let the sanity prevail.In any case there was lot of truth in that letter.The bottom line was that the Army and all other institutions must be under the civilian governments control.Now there is nothing wrong in that.The common man in Pakistan could not care less about the Memo.He is having a hard time making his ends meet.The Supreme Court may like to take suo moto notice of the problems being faced by these poor people.


  • Sindhvoice
    Jan 20, 2012 - 10:58PM

    Bravo Kaiser Bengali. Excellent write up! Truth is bitter and hard to speak but it is what our country needs most. Hats off to you for being so eloquent, to the point and right on the spot.


  • Amjad
    Jan 20, 2012 - 11:05PM

    Simply briliant


  • Dilshad
    Jan 21, 2012 - 12:52AM

    Mr Bengali has missed a very basic piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
    If you get rid of this imposter government and replace it with a free and fairly elected government that is clear of corruption then let them do the work of putting Pakistan back on the road of development . . . this is the way to solve our problems. The courts can start to function as regular courts rather than operate on this (internal) war footing which they are being forced to do because of the thieves and imposters at the helm of affairs.


  • ayesha khan
    Jan 21, 2012 - 1:04AM

    @Shahzad: “It would have been a wonderfully written piece had the author not ignored one fundamental fact – the ongoing trial is not a suo-moto case but was petitioned to SC by the very intelligent chief of opposition party, namely Mian Nawaz Sharif. The court only accepted it to be admissible. “

    I would like you to consider the following points:
    1. The court does not work with such high priority on other constitutional issues such as Retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s petition.
    2. The court has taken suo moto notice of so many other less important issues. So it is unclear why issues that are so closely tied up with national security have not come on the Supreme Court’s radar once it believes that such issues are legitimately part of the Supreme Court’s scope.


  • sam
    Jan 21, 2012 - 1:38AM

    excellent article. totally agree with you.


  • Jan 21, 2012 - 2:35AM

    I don’t see any reason for getting so upset about the SC/CJ getting involved in politics.
    Everyone is a part of the political game-playing. Black Coat revolution, Aitezaz Ahsan making rounds in DC’s corridors of power to promote CJ, who gets quickly honoured by some US lawyers group for his great fight for democracy. It was nothing but political maneuvering that went on for his restoration.

    CJ is not any less a political than the next man. Every court decision is weighed well what is expected from it. The justices also read newspapers, look at the TV, only robots can remain immune from influence.Recommend

  • Blithe
    Jan 21, 2012 - 3:23AM

    But why didn’t you write about these national Security issues before the memogate scandal?

    Why did you leave it to Nawaz Sharif alone at earlier to criticize the establishment?
    Why didn’t you and other PPP leaders stand up earlier? Recommend

  • vasan
    Jan 21, 2012 - 6:10AM

    I agree with this author. Would somebody in Pakistan care to file a “Public Interest Litigation” in the supreme court to get to the bottom of the security loop holes issue.


  • Shahbaz Khan
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:42AM

    Ijaz claims that he himself authored the memo in consultation with HH and this is corroborated by BB exchange as well. It is, therefore, is being taken seriously. The statement that ISI chief visited Arab countries to lobby for the governmet’s dismissal is hearsay i.e. Ijaz claims that someone told him so. He does not claim to know it of his own knowledge and is rather passing on a third party’s statement. If another piece of evidence surfaces, for example, an arab leader comes forward and states that he met Pasha, then this statement too will be taken seriously. The writer’s criticism on this point is not valid.


  • Mirza
    Jan 21, 2012 - 12:15PM

    Kudos for a thought provoking, fair and balanced Op Ed. The PCO SC is more interested in its star witness and his safety and not the elected govt. No wonder Mansoor Ijaz is happy to come over and help the SC and generals and not the Parliament. SC should stop running a parallel govt.


  • Zamir
    Jan 21, 2012 - 2:17PM

    This govt was elected?
    It was shoe horned in with the NRO and we all know what this govt is all about.
    Jeez – stop brown nosing already!


  • Ayesha
    Jan 21, 2012 - 2:24PM

    The author suggests that the SC is one-sided and prefers to take up issues like memogate that are close to the heart of the agencies. The author reasoning is flawed as major political players such as PML-N etc moved the SC to take up this issue. Other matters that the author has pointed out such as the Lal masjid episode, stockpiling of weapons in Karachi etc. were taken up by the SC. In its suo moto ruling of target killing in Karachi last year, the SC castagated the home and interior ministries about arms smugling into KArachi and urged practical steps be taken to control this menace.


  • xyz
    Jan 21, 2012 - 2:36PM

    Thumbs up to Mr Kaiser Bangali !


    Jan 21, 2012 - 2:49PM

    @Zamir:We know what all about the govt: is but this can not justify the bais attitude shown by the supreme authority whos main expressibility to give and maintain justice in the country.Mansoor ijaz was guy who first used to criticize ISI and then letter came with a so called memo now claiming to be the well wisher of the country.HOW COOL IS THAT?and surprising our present has became very bias after that judicial restoration movement.Finally that guy who claimed to be our country’s well wisher has refused to come and present before the court saying that he is not a pakistani.after creating a huge chaos in the country is that justifiable.


  • Ishrat Salim
    Jan 21, 2012 - 3:29PM

    Shahzad…I second you….u r absolutely correct….for all practical reason..this govt has been elected on 36 million bogus vote…if SC wanted, it cud hv declared this govt as illegitimate…but refrained in doing so because it wants to strengthen the democratic system which was at its infancy…..Recommend

  • Atiq
    Jan 21, 2012 - 4:18PM

    Bengali Sahib forgets that its the police that is responsible for all internal security such as lal masjid, karachi etc. The army truly did fail in stopping the Abbotabad raid by USA but what does Mr. Bengali expect when America’s defense budget is $700 billion compared to Pakistan’s $6 billion? The army also failed to defeat India, which has a budget 6 times that of Pakistan. What Bengali sahib forgets to ask is why East Pakistan broke away? Answer: Mujib won the election and Bhutto refused to accept the result.


  • Shahzad
    Jan 21, 2012 - 8:42PM

    Ayesha Khan and Shahid: You seem to have a grudge as to why the supreme court did not take suo-moto on so many issues? Go ahead and write an article on it. I am all ears. Here I was merely assessing the weight carried by the arguments presented by the author of THIS article and not the history of supreme court’s conduct. If the court had taken a suo-moto on this issue I would consider it to be a damning list but unfortunately that does not seem to be happening here.

    But for the argument’s sake, let us agree that the court should have taken suo-moto on all the events mentioned here. Now does this mean that a petition legally admissible would now be discarded on the grounds that the court didn’t live up to the expectations earlier? Army could be the baddest thing around town, point considered, SC could be wrong in deeming the petition admissible, quite possible, but this cannot lend credibility to a string of arguments incongruently stitched to bring home the central idea.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 21, 2012 - 10:31PM

    Kaiser, you have written an excellent article.

    I hope that your article is read by all those people who are sitting at the helm of affairs to decide the fate of Pakistan in memo scandal case.


  • Seema Shaikh
    Jan 22, 2012 - 1:11AM

    @Shahbaz Khan: The ISI chief did not deny it, that mean there is something fishy fishy.


  • Seema Shaikh
    Jan 22, 2012 - 1:57AM

    @Ishrat Salim: This is a propaganda against this govt, you called Imran’s jalssa tsunami where Benazir bhutto brought tsunami all over the Pakistan. She was killed just to stop that tsunami. These bogus vote may be cast in the favor of PMLQ and MQM those were in power at that time. Establishment has created many parties just to counter PPP, could not destroy PPP’s vote bank unleashed terror against its leadership and workers to change their loyalties, but alas could not succeeded. Those who says ppp came to power by bogus votes are blindfolded by hatred. This bias media cannot damage PPP’s vote bank. those deserted ppp, their political entity destroyed for ever, it shows ppl dont like turncoats of PPP.


  • Straight Shooter
    Jan 22, 2012 - 7:06AM

    People including those in fiduciary positions are so unabashedly selective and arbitrary that these pointed and valid questions of Mr Bengali will be ignored. Intellectual integrity is so rare in our society.


  • Mustafa Moiz
    Jan 22, 2012 - 10:39AM

    I see criticism of the Tribune’s policy will not be published.


  • Ishrat Salim
    Jan 22, 2012 - 5:43PM

    Seema Shaikh…u do not know what u r talking about….bogus vote was confirmed by NADRA & the Election commission….PPP was voted in as majority due to sympathy vote….PML & MQM has nothing to do with this….since u r a blind PPP jiyala u will not understand because u r convinced not to be convinced….what they hv done to this country in collaboration with their allies is not hidden…the whole world is a witness to the present mess…yet u will remain in the state of denial…because u hv not talked to the poor people in the streets….go & ask them…are they happy today…?? Recommend

  • Straight Shooter
    Jan 22, 2012 - 9:15PM

    @Mustafa Moiz: Not just Tribune, not just our media, at this point is, like a teenager who considers it it’s god given right to criticize everyone but refuses to be at the receiving end of even the slightest hint of criticism.


  • Cynical
    Jan 23, 2012 - 9:39PM

    @Kaiser Bengali

    Excellent. You seem to combine the skill of a lawyear and a detective.


  • Seema Shaikh
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:58PM

    @Ishrat Salim: The vote you called sympathy vote was surly shows there love for PPP. Cool down mr I would repeat same words for your hatred towards PPP, u r convinced not to be convinced. Your own statements contradict each other.First you say PPP’s majority is sympathy vote, at the same time you say PPP came to power by bogus vote.That why I mentioned blind folded with hatred. In memo you are chaging HH for high treason, what should we do to Army,who gave shamsi air base just on verbal agreement. Funny na


  • JJJackxon
    Jan 24, 2012 - 2:31PM

    Good article but please do not refer to India (and Israel) as the enemy at every turn. This does a great deal of harm. India is larger, stronger and more prosperous and does not need anything from Pakistan except peace. I do realize that Pakistan is an enemy to India but it does NOT follow that India is an enemy to Pakistan.


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