Memo exists, say Kayani, Pasha
Both Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Director General Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, in their first official and public statements on the memo scandal on Thursday, dropped a bombshell by acknowledging the document and expressing satisfaction with the evidence provided by American businessman Mansoor Ijaz.
In separate replies filed with the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions related to the matter, they called for a thorough investigation about the memorandum, which they blamed on former ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, saying the issue had an impact on national security.
Their replies were submitted to the court’s registrar by Attorney General Anwarul Haq. “There may be a need to fully examine the facts and circumstances leading to conception and issuance of the memo,” Gen Kayani said and underscored that the episode “has an impact on national security and… attempts to lower the morale of Pakistan Army”.
Gen Pasha demanded a detailed investigation, saying “access to unadulterated truth and justice is a right of the people of Pakistan, the real sovereign masters of this country”.
The ISI chief also asked the court to summon Mr Ijaz, who had kick-started the controversy through an article in the Financial Times on Oct 10; and getting the computers, cell phones and Black Berry devices of Mr Haqqani and Mr Ijaz for which he offered to “render necessary assistance to its (SC) appointed commission”.
Even as Mr Ijaz has publicly offered to appear before the court in the case and has sent in his reply, Gen Pasha twice refers to his (Ijaz’s) willingness to personally present evidence before the apex court.
The other important common feature of both replies is that they confirm that Mr Haqqani had been summoned to the country on their insistence following which the premier asked him to resign.
“It was, therefore, important that complete details be established as early as possible. I strongly recommended to the prime minister that our ambassador in the United States, who was best suited and informed on the matter, be called to brief the country’s leadership,” Gen Kayani said and went on to narrate his subsequent meetings with President Asif Zardari and PM Gilani on the issue, including the last in the series in which Mr Haqqani was heard and asked to quit.
Gen Pasha, narrating his meeting with President Zardari on Nov 18, said he recommended to the president that “the issue pertained to national security and should not be taken lightly. I suggested to the president that it will be in the fitness of things to ask our ambassador in Washington to verify or contradict the matter.”
The army chief also gave a brief account of a briefing he received on the issue from Gen Pasha on Oct 24 after the spy chief had met Mr Ijaz in London.
“He (Gen Pasha) opined that the evidence shown to him by Mr Mansoor Ijaz was enough to establish that Mr Mansoor Ijaz remained in touch with Mr Hussain Haqqani from 9 May, 2011, onwards and exchanged numerous text messages and telephone calls. As per DG ISI’s assessment, the sequence and contents of text messages and telephone calls created a reasonable doubt regarding Mr Hussain Haqqani’s association with the memo.”
The ISI chief gives an insight into how he got in touch with Mr Ijaz through an unnamed ‘source’ and that the meeting was set up in London on Oct 22 following the publication of the businessman’s article in Financial Times.
In addition to the details about his meeting with Mr Ijaz, in which the latter explained the context of the issue and shared related information, Gen Pasha specially refers to his demand for seeing the devices used for communication to believe his (Ijaz’s) story.
“Having seen these means of communication used, I was satisfied that he had enough corroborative material to prove his version of the incident,” the ISI chief said.
Federation seeks dismissal of case
The federal government requested the Supreme Court on Thursday to dismiss PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s petition over the memo scandal because appropriate steps on the matter had already been taken by the competent authorities —executive and parliamentary committee.
In a brief reply submitted by Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, the government said it was essential that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security should proceed with the probe to determine the issue and give its recommendations.
“So that the parliament, which has supremacy under the Constitution as a representative body of the people of Pakistan, may consider and take appropriate actions and steps if need be,” it said.
The reply has also attached an internet download of a story, titled “Pakistan’s memogate: was there ever going to be a coup?” The story, written by Omar Warriach, appeared in Britain’s Daily Independent on Tuesday.
According to the story, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed that ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha had visited Arab countries for discussions on a possible coup.
The reply said: “It is the firm belief and resolve of the present democratic government to safeguard, defend and protect the national integrity and sovereignty on all fronts. This resolve is manifested through the sacrifices made by coalition partners in the government, including the ultimate sacrifice of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
“The presidency as well as the federal government have already issued denial of the contents of the article appeared in the Financial Times on October 10. It is the stance of the federation that the federal government (including the constitutional head of the state, the constitutional chief executive of the country or any other component of the federal government) has neither conceptualised nor initiated or, in any manner, has anything to do with the alleged memo or the allegations or views expressed therein.
“It is a matter of record that the former ambassador to the US (Husain Haqqani) had put in resignation on the call of the chief executive and its acceptance has been notified. The (parliamentary) committee has taken cognizance and is seized with the matter.
“Needless to say, the committee is fully empowered to not only probe the matter and record evidence but also to ensure production of such evidence as it deems necessary and for this purpose all the powers of a civil court are available to the committee.
“All committees of the parliament are the creation of the rules framed under the Constitution of Pakistan. The federal government has already given directions to all concerned to assist the committee in any manner it deems fit and proper. All democratically-elected political parties are represented in the committee.”
Army, ISI want govt to continue, Ijaz was told
American businessman and aspiring statesman, Mansoor Ijaz, has not run out of revelations and neither has he stopped condemning and praising the same people in turn.
This much is clear from his 81-page reply that he sent to the Supreme Court. In the document he has disclosed that during his meeting with the Inter Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha in London, the general had made it clear that it was his (Pasha) and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s deep desire to see the government complete its term.
However, the general added, the rumours surrounding the memo and what it contained could not be ignored.
The voluminous reply emailed to the Supreme Court office from Zurich, Switzerland, also discussed in detail the events before and after the appearance of his article in the Financial Times (which have been extensively covered in the media in the recent past), his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari in 2009 which was arranged by Ambassador Husain Haqqani and a complete record of the infamous black berry messages (BBM) and emails that he is said to have exchanged with Haqqani. Some of the emails date back to far before the memogate controversy.
The reply even provided explanations of the code words used in the exchanges.
According to Ijaz, Zardari was referred to as “friend” or “boss” while “Isphani’s people” was a reference to “US officials.”
Likewise “bad boys” meant the army chief and Gen Pasha; “sledge hammer” the US government and “golden handle” was the preferred code for Adm Mullen.
Ijaz also revealed that he did not just call former US national security adviser Gen (retd) James L Jones for the delivery of the controversial memorandum to Admiral (retd) Mike Mullen. He also called, as a parallel track, his outside counsel whose name he withheld.
He simply explained that the person used to be a former senior government official in President George Bush’s administration and was working at a prominent and large Washington law firm.
According to Ijaz this person had a wide array of contacts that could help in reaching out to Adm Mullen if Gen Jones refused to deliver the memo.
In addition, Ijaz and Jones also discussed possible names of people who could be used to approach Amd Mullen. According to the reply, Gen Jones mentioned two people –a senior US political figure who was now leading a private life and an acting officer of the US government who knew Adm Mullen well. The names of these other Americans, including the one working at the law firm are not revealed in the reply.
Ijaz also detailed his interaction with Gen Jones who made it clear that he would not consider taking any message to Adm Mullen if it was not in writing. Ijaz has also claimed that Jones did not express much trust in Haqqani.
It appears that because of this reluctance, the memo had to make it clear who was behind it.
“We went through the architecture of the memo, focusing this time on the opening paragraph and confirming the new signature paragraph (from whom did this document come) that had been added in,” Ijaz said in the reply, as he described the day on which the memo was finalized.
Shortly after he described this incident, the reply describes a call he made to Haqqani in which the latter informed him about the results of the meeting with Adm Mullen by stating that “a call will go out from Washington to Pindi (Rawalpindi) tonight.”
The reply also referred to former army chief Jehangir Karamat and former national security advisor Mahmud Durrani, whom Ijaz mentions as two people that according to Haqqani were “like-minded” people who could be brought on board by “the boss” as possible members for the new national security team once tensions had dissipated.
“But both would be approached once this was all over, a point I took to mean they were unaware of this operation (memorandum) in advance,” he stated.
Pasha visits Ijaz: The reply also describes in detail the American businessman’s meeting with Gen Pasha. Ijaz said that the meeting with Pasha was set up by a third person whom Ijaz did not know.
Before his scheduled meeting with the ISI chief, the reply said, Haqqani called Ijaz to inquire whether Gen Pasha was coming to London to meet him but Ijaz denied it.
According to Ijaz, Haqqani was more concerned about whether or not Gen Pasha would be meeting with the people at Financial Times London and whether Ijaz could do him a favour by ensuring that the FT editors did not provide Gen Pasha with a copy of the memo or any other evidence.
About his four hour long meeting with Gen Pasha in London, Ijaz stated that at times Gen Pasha looked a bit astonished at what he was seeing but at no time did he offer any assessment of the data other than to indicate that the records were “clear and convincing” evidence.
“In my recollection, Gen Pasha read the memo itself in about three or four minutes, demonstrated surprise and dismay – at times disgust and disappointment – over the content of the document,” the reply said.
Without naming anyone, Ijaz also stated that two important official sources whom he would identify ‘in camera’, told him that attempts may have or were being made to manipulate, erase, delete or otherwise distort the data in the electronic devices of Haqqani.
Civilian, military leaderships face off in Supreme Court
ISLAMABAD, Dec 15: If the first act of the memo controversy ended with the resignation of then ambassador Husain Haqqani, then the curtains came down on the second act on Thursday evening when the Supreme Court received the replies it had asked the president, Haqqani, the chief of army staff, the ISI head and Mansoor Ijaz to submit.
Although Dec 15 was the last day by which the replies were to be submitted, Haqqani was the only one who submitted his reply earlier. The rest arrived on the last day; and those of the two military officials as well as the federation’s were submitted to the court by Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq well after the court timings were over.
President Asif Ali Zardari’s response is still missing. And as with his illness, the issue is surrounded by ambiguity; it is not clear if he would submit a reply later or not at all.
But what is bound to kick up a storm in the coming days is the complete divergence of opinion between the government’s response and that of the military. While the military officials have not only acknowledged the memo and called it a threat to national security, the government’s response has taken the same line as the one Haqqani took earlier – that Nawaz Sharif’s petition which led to the Supreme Court to pass an order on the controversy should be dismissed as the parliament is already looking into the matter.
“That said matters prime facie are not a proper subject matter of proceedings within the meaning and scope of Article 184 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the federation’s reply stated.
On the other hand, the army chief and the spymaster seem to want the Supreme Court to investigate the matter.
The position taken by Gen Kayani is a bit vague: “There may be a need to fully examine the facts and circumstances leading to conception and issuance of the memo.”
He does not categorically say whether he wants the issue to be probed by the SC or by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), which too is looking into the matter.
But it cannot be ignored that he has submitted his response to the Supreme Court. However, Gen Pasha unambiguously supports a Supreme Court inquiry.
More importantly, the replies of the military officials have implicated Haqqani in the controversy. They also make it clear that their pressure led to his return to Pakistan and his resignation.
However, neither of the two replies refer to the possibility of the president’s involvement despite Ijaz’s assertions in this regard.
What this can mean for the future of the president or for Haqqani will be unveiled in the third act of this drama, popularly known as “memogate’. The closing scene is still to come.