Memogate: Two psychopaths, a ‘new threat’ to Pakistani democracy? – by Shiraz Paracha

After the 1993 Elections, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto formed the government for the second time.  Husain Haqqani became the Press and Information Secretary in that government. At a meeting with Haqqani at the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad, I found him intelligent but fake, confident but artificial. Rapacious and haughty Haqqani came across as self-centered and insecure man, who had the mindset and temper of a Jamaat-e-Islami activist. Bringing Haqqani to such an important position was one of Benazir Bhutto’s mistakes.

Benazir was a visionary leader with remarkable intellectual depth but she was not good in identifying peoples’ true faces. Several of her team members were either unreliable or did not have strong characters, be it Shah Mehmood Qureshi or Husain Haqqani. Babar Awan and Rahman Malik, for example, are good for certain purposes but their commitment to the PPP and people of Pakistan is not guaranteed.

Haqqani was trained by Jamaat-e-Islami and was a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing, Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba at Karachi University. Following the 1985 non-party elections, General Zia-ul-Haq gifted Husain Haqqani to his spiritual son Nawaz Sharif. Haqqani’s task was to turn goofy Nawaz Sharif from a wooden military puppet into a real ‘leader’.

During the 1988 election campaign Haqqani’s devious mind had invented filth against Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. He was the mastermind of a smear campaign against Benazir Bhutto. He used Jamaat-e-Islami’s dirty training and tricks in spreading lies about Benazir and Begam Nusrat Bhutto.

It was Haqqani who had coined the term ‘security risk’ for Benazir Bhutto. Also the term ‘Mr. 10 percent’ was introduced to discredit Asif Zardari. Journalist Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami can tell more about it because Shami was said to be at the meeting where the idea of ‘Mr. 10 percent’ was floated.

Naheed Khan was Haqqani’s channel to get close to Benazir Bhutto. Haqqani used Naheed Khan’s sister as a ladder to get into the PPP. Before Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan in 1986, Naheed’s sister had a stormy affair with an influential journalist from Peshawar. The middle aged journalist was already married but had fallen for Naheed’s young sister who had an outgoing personality.

The secret affair became so serious that the journalist flew to Karachi with a bag full of presents. Naheed’s family allegedly agreed for marriage but set demands that involved huge financial commitments. The journalist refused and returned to Peshawar. A few years later another former journalist and Nawaz Sharif’s notorious spin doctor Husain Haqqani, through Naheed’s sister, found an opportunity to get into the inner circle of Pakistan’s most popular politician.

People such as Hussian Haqqani damaged the PPP and Benazir Bhutto. They used their access to Benazir to pursue personal agendas, made fortunes and promoted their careers.

Indeed Husain Haqqani is an opportunist with a very little credibility so is Mansoor Ijaz, an American of Pakistani descent who works for U.S secret agencies and defence related business groups.

Mansoor Ijaz appears to be suffering from inferiority and other psychological complexes. He holds an American passport, seems to be ashamed of his Pakistani and Muslim background and yet Mansoor, a little stooge of Neo-Cons, sells his Pakistani credentials and so-called expertise on extremist Islam to Americans.

Mansoor behaves like a psychopath and has been intimidating Pakistani politicians and military leaders, who always look towards Washington for support. Mansoor cashes on their weakness and makes exaggerated claims about his connections and influence on the Hill. Benazir Bhutto was bitten by Mansoor Ijaz’s inflated claims and was thus very sceptical of Mansoor.

Mansoor criminal-minded business associates made tones of money through questionable business deals. Interestingly, Mansoor uses his Muslim and Pakistani background to promote his business and career interests in the United States. Precisely on these grounds, he acts as a friend of Israel and his role suits Zionist lobbies. Mansoor is also a self-appointed flag carrier for American crusaders. Mansoor’s ideas and plans often hurt Pakistan, yet he wants to be loved and appreciated in Pakistan. Thanks to some Pakistani media outlets, Mansoor gets out of proportion attention in Pakistan where the majority of the public is unaware of his real motives and agenda.

When I visited the United States to cover the 1996 Presidential Election campaign, I was keen to meet Benazir Bhutto’s famous Jewish lobbyist Mark Segal. I had asked several of my U.S. colleagues about Mr. Segal but no one who I spoke to in Washington DC knew Mr. Segal. I was a bit surprised because the Pakistani media had turned crazy about the powerful Jewish man of Washington. Several days later, I found Mr. Segal sitting alone in the back corner of a Democratic Party side meeting, in Chicago. I interviewed him and realized that he was part of  a small business firm and didn’t have the influence and clout, which was often associated with him.

Upon my return to Pakistan when we published our interview with Mark Segal, Benazir Bhutto’s spokesperson Farhat Ullah Babar called and congratulated me on having an interview with Mark Segal, this time I was sadly surprised. The point is that in Pakistan exaggeration and distortions about people and events are common.

Now, Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz are central in the so-called memo scandal. The memo that was allegedly written back in May could be a new excuse to justify the dismissal of the civilian government in Pakistan as some forces have been trying to windup the fragile democratic process in the country.

The timing of the leak about the alleged memo to a U.S general is interesting. Rather than questioning the role of the Pakistani military in bringing troubles for Pakistan, some Washington-based Pakistani journalists like Shaheen Sehbahi always blame President Zardari.

One has to understand the full context and circumstance before and after the May 2011 drama that was staged in Abbotabad. Whether Osama bin Laden was killed in the U.S military operation, or the U.S Seals took the frozen dead body of bin Laden under the cover of the so-called operation is the real question, only Pakistani generals and the U.S. government know the actual story.

Some Pakistani generals groomed and harboured bin Laden and others calling them Pakistan’s strategic assets. Such generals should be brought to justice, not an elected President and the civilian government. Pakistani generals have been violating the constitution and have no regard for the law. They disobey and disrespect elected representatives of people. Instead of exposing misdeeds of the military, the Pakistani media support and strengthen generals’ wrongdoings.

In such an environment trivial matters and non-issues become serious threats for the future of democracy. Now an alleged personal and unofficial communication between two individuals is presented as another reason for derailing democracy in Pakistan. Can two rightwing psychopaths be a threat to democracy? One wonders for how long such nonsense will continue in Pakistan?

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. He can be reached at:




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