By Zia Khan
ISLAMABAD: Mum’s the word as far as the government and the military’s media wing are concerned regarding Mansoor Ijaz’s latest allegations.
The mood in the National Assembly session on Thursday, however, was anything but when a female parliamentarian demanded that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha should resign and face an inquiry based on the allegations that he had met some Arab leaders early this year to discuss a military coup in Pakistan.
Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, the whistleblower behind the Memogate affair, claimed that Pasha had visited Arab countries for discussions on a possible coup, according to media reports.
“If Husain Haqqani [Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US] could resign based on mere allegations, why shouldn’t Pasha?” Awami National Party (ANP) MNA Bushra Gohar questioned.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan initially defended Pasha, terming Ijaz’s claims “baseless”. However, when Gohar pointed out that if the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was so quick to believe Ijaz when the memo issue was brought to light, how was it that the same man had suddenly become “unreliable” when it came to the ISI chief, Chaudhry Nisar ‘unwillingly’ agreed. “Isn’t that a double standards. Isn’t it a contradiction within?” she questioned.
A blog posting on The Independent’s website quoted Ijaz as having said, “Their [US intelligence] information was that Pasha had travelled to a few Arab countries to talk about what the necessary line of action would be in the event that they had to remove Zardari from power, and so forth.”
The government should authenticate the allegations and take “necessary steps”, Chaudhry Nisar said, changing his stance.
After the Abbottabad raid unfolded, Chaudhry Nisar said it was he who “dared” Pasha to resign but nobody supported him back then. “Principally, I agree with her [Bushra’s] stance … but it is up to the government to seek a resignation from anyone,” he added.
It was the first time that a parliamentarian representing a major political party called for the ISI chief to resign in order to prove that the allegations against him were untrue.
(Read: Deconstructing the SC order on the memo)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2011.