MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [I]


Musawer Mansoor Ijaz has always been willful, a trait that worried his late father, so one summer afternoon in 1976, he organized a sort of intervention for the oldest of his five children, with some hefty help. “Abdus, can you please explain to this young man that being so headstrong is not good?” The professor’s friend, Dr. Abdus Salam, sized up the young Ijaz and smiled. “Do you remember how headstrong we were at that age? That’s how we got to where we are,” Salam told his friend, “so let him be.”  For 15-year-old Ijaz, Salam wasn’t one of the world’s most important scientists but simply the genial uncle who would bring chocolates each time he visited. Salam would eventually become Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, but despite that achievement he would die an outsider, heartlessly disowned as a heretic by most Pakistanis deeply suspicious of his Ahmadi beliefs. But the trait that worried Ijaz’s father has served the son well—as Salam knew it would.
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THE (ULTIMATE) BELTWAY INSIDER

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by Fasih Ahmed | The Newsweek

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The startling allegations leveled by the Pakistani-American businessman and citizen diplomat have already claimed their first casualty. Meet the man who blew the whistle on Memogate.

Musawer Mansoor Ijaz has always been willful. It was a trait that worried his late father, Mujaddid, a Virginia Tech physics professor. So one summer afternoon in 1976 at their mountain-perched home in rural Shawsville, Virginia, he organized a sort of intervention for the oldest of his five children, with some hefty help.

 “Abdus, can you please explain to this young man that being so headstrong is not good?” The professor’s friend, Dr. Abdus Salam, sized up the young Ijaz and smiled. “Do you remember how headstrong we were at that age? That’s how we got to where we are,” Salam told his friend, “so let him be.”

 For 15-year-old Ijaz, Salam wasn’t one of the world’s most important scientists but simply the genial uncle who would bring chocolates each time he visited. Salam would eventually become Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, but despite that achievement he would die an outsider, heartlessly disowned as a heretic by most Pakistanis deeply suspicious of his Ahmadi beliefs. But the trait that worried Ijaz’s father has served the son well—as Salam knew it would.

 Ijaz, the thrice-married 50-year-old Wall Street millionaire and father of five, is based in New York City but clocks up hundreds of private-jet hours a month traveling to his pieds-à-terre in Europe. And unlike Salam, Ijaz is the ultimate Beltway insider, uninhibited by false humility. He has all the gregarious, bounteous self-assurance of a self-made man and a rolodex to envy. Ijaz’s BlackBerry has numbers for former U.S. vice president Al Gore, Sen. John Kerry, former Obama national security adviser James L. Jones, Husain Haqqani. But he should probably delete that last contact.

 On Nov. 22, Haqqani resigned or, according to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s office, was asked to resign his post as Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. This in the wake of Ijaz’s allegation that Haqqani, his former friend of over 10 years, was in fact the architect of the sensational confidential memorandum he had delivered to Adm. Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, just days after Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in Abbottabad.

 Pakistan erupted in propaganda wars after Ijaz first suggested Haqqani’s involvement in the alleged conspiracy in an Oct. 10 op-ed for London’s Financial Times, “Time to Take on Pakistan’s Jihadist Spies.” The end of Haqqani’s diplomatic career was inevitable, and Sherry Rehman—a former journalist, Gilani cabinet member, and rights activist—will now succeed him. But in a country rent by anti-Army and anti-Zardari ardor, some hope while others fear that the political blood of Husain may not be enough.

 “It is not congruent with the national interests of Pakistan to have a clever-by-half ambassador and a deficient-by-full president,” Ijaz told Newsweek Pakistan. “OK, not everybody has to be a fucking rocket scientist in all of this but at least be honest to the people about what you’re doing and own up to your actions instead of covering them up.”

 NOTEWORTHY

 The memo is a startling read. Playing up fears of a coup in Pakistan, which Ijaz says he now knows to have been purposefully false, the document delivered to Admiral Mullen through former Obama administration official Jones on May 10 urges the Pentagon to convey “a strong, urgent and direct message” to Pakistan’s Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha “to end their brinkmanship aimed at bringing down the civilian apparatus.” The memo seeks U.S. assistance in forcing “wholesale changes” to Pakistan’s notoriously tenuous civil-military relations. Alluding to the civil war that led to East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh, the memo describes the Army’s emasculation by Abbottabad as a “1971 moment.” It alleges the “complicity” of the military and the ISI in the bin Laden “matter” and claims the presence and patronage on Pakistani soil of several most-wanted terrorists, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani.

 The nonpaper seeks American pressure, and names, for setting up an independent commission to investigate bin Laden’s support structure in Pakistan. The findings, the memo promises, will be of “tangible value to the U.S. government and the American people” and will “identify with exacting detail those responsible” and lead—“it is certain”—to the “immediate termination of active service officers.”

 The memo is written on behalf of a “new national security team” that will be “inducted by the President of Pakistan with your support” and staffed with people “favorably viewed by Washington” who would provide the U.S. “carte blanche” to operate against terrorists within Pakistan.

 The memo also commits this new national-security dream team to bringing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program under an “acceptable framework of discipline” and a “more verifiable, transparent regime.” It promises cooperation with India over the 2008 Mumbai attacks regardless of who may have been involved, and urges America demand the disbandment of the ISI’s “Section S,” which is “charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc.”

 If this memo was Haqqani’s brainchild, as Ijaz alleges, it is self-evident that these contents could never be relayed by him in his official capacity without raising red flags in leak-prone U.S. decision-making circles. And what civilian government, no matter how besieged or bumbling (or some of its officials, no matter how crafty or clumsy), could resist the temptation of capitalizing on post-Abbottabad tensions between Pakistan and the U.S. to finally put the generals in their place? Except that the memo doesn’t represent an article-of-faith problem for its alleged ideological architects, but an Article 6 problem. That’s the treason clause in Pakistan’s Constitution which, despite the clamor, is unlikely to be invoked.

 Ijaz finds it improbable that he was the only opinion leader to be approached by Haqqani.

 Far less radical but prescriptions similar to those in the Mullen memo were made around the same time in an op-ed in The Washington Post. “This is a time for action, to finally push [Pakistan] toward moderation and genuine democracy,” wrote Fareed Zakaria in his May 12 piece.

  “One Pakistani scholar, who preferred not to be named for fear of repercussions” explained the crestfallen Pakistan Army’s violation-of-sovereignty outbursts to Zakaria thus: “It’s like a person, caught in bed with another man’s wife, who is indignant that someone entered his house.”

 Some could say that Haqqani, who taught at Boston University and authored a seminal critique of the military in his 2005 book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, fits the bill.

 Zakaria also helps explain the frustration felt by democracy purists. “The military has also, once again, been able to cow the civilian government. According to Pakistani sources, the speech that Prime Minister Gilani gave at a recent news conference was drafted by the military. President Zardari continues to appease the military rather than confront the generals. Having come to power hoping to clip the military’s wings, Pakistan’s democratically elected government has been reduced to mouthing talking points written for it by the intelligence services.”

 The piece implores Washington to push with urgency the constitution in Pakistan of a national commission headed by a Supreme Court justice and “not an Army apparatchik” to investigate Abbottabad and the involvement of “elements of the Pakistani state.” It also asks the U.S. to “develop a plan to go after the major untouched terror networks in Pakistan, such as the Haqqani faction, the Quetta Shura and Lashkar-e-Tayyba,” and to either strictly implement the provisions of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill (the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act 2009) which require Pakistan’s military being placed under real civilian control or cut off aid.

 BURDEN OF BIOGRAPHY

 Haqqani, 55, is no stranger to controversy. One year after becoming country’s ambassador in Washington, in 2009, he was accused of finagling and finessing the allegedly anti-Army provisions in Kerry-Lugar. He responded to the most strident accuser, The Nation, with a defamation notice. The English-language daily had called him “an American agent”—an odious, potentially fatal label that has somehow stuck. This year, during the Raymond Davis fiasco, he was falsely accused of doling out visas in the hundreds to CIA operatives like the dubious Davis. Never mind that the ISI, not Haqqani, cleared every single visa issued from Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington. And never mind that it was Haqqani, a former religious-right activist, who resolved the Davis crisis by suggesting application of the Shariah concept of diyat or “blood money.”

 The accusations have taken their toll on Haqqani and his third wife, Farahnaz Ispahani, a well-regarded lawmaker and herself a former journalist. Ispahani is one of Zardari’s spokespersons, and her grandfather, who served as ambassador to the U.S., gifted Pakistan the D.C. property that has become the official residence for its envoys. On Nov. 18, Haqqani broke down on national television. “There is nothing more painful for a Pakistani than having people call him a traitor,” he told Geo News. “My mother is buried in a military graveyard, my father served in the Pakistan Army, my brother served in the Pakistan Army. My political views may be different from others but to accuse me of being a traitor because of that—that hurts.”

 Biography is a burden for both Ijaz and Haqqani. Before his ambassadorship and before his teaching career, Haqqani was in the thick of politics—another job he was good at. During the 1990s Haqqani ran an election campaign for Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister who was once pro-Army, before defecting to the Pakistan Peoples Party and winning the confidence of Zardari and his late wife, Benazir Bhutto. When Sharif returned to power he jailed Haqqani on made-up charges until Gen. Pervez Musharraf interceded. Haqqani left the country soon after.

 A universal dinner party favorite for his wit and propensity to speak in sound bites, Haqqani has been accused of coming up with that highly damaging description of first husband Zardari’s alleged corruption, “Mr. 10 Percent,” during his time as a Sharif adviser. But the now center-right journalist Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami, who knows Haqqani, disputes this as untrue. Shami says Haqqani’s election campaign for Sharif was “in bad taste” but impressed Bhutto. It was Haqqani, he says, who trotted out the infamous 1990s letter forged to look like it had gone from Bhutto to Peter W. Galbraith, another Beltway insider and Bhutto’s friend from Harvard, calling on the U.S. to have India attack Pakistan in order to chasten the generals. “Whether he forged it or not is a matter of debate, but he was the one to release it to the media,” says Shami.

 But allegations are cheap, especially in Pakistan where challenging hearsay is heresy. The fact is that Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, trusted Haqqani. In her posthumously released, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, she appreciates Haqqani for his “vital role in providing guidance and criticism, especially invaluable on the theocratic foundations of Islam and the history of Pakistan—a loyal friend whose counsel … will always be cherished.”

 THE PRINCE AND THE PASHA

 Ijaz received a call from the ISI just days after the publication of his Financial Times piece. Would he be willing to corroborate his allegations against the “senior Pakistani diplomat” behind the Mullen memo to an official of the same intel agency he described in the piece as a “cancer” on the Pakistani state and a threat to the world? Although sympathetic to the Zardari-led government, Ijaz’s column also called the civilian government “incompetent and toothless.”

 On the evening of Oct. 22, Ijaz met the ISI chief in London for four hours. The one-on-one meeting took place in General Pasha’s £715-a-night one-bedroom suite at the InterContinental London Park Lane, a hotel favored by Pakistani generals on official visits. A plainclothes Pakistani stood guard outside. General Pasha, attired in a business suit, was “calm,” asked a series of pointed questions and kept scribbling as Ijaz backed up his claims against Haqqani.

 Ijaz often swapped notes with Haqqani via BlackBerry Messenger. He claims Haqqani communicated with him using two devices—one with the PIN No. 2326A31D was used by Haqqani, he says, between May 9 and 12, and another, with the PIN No. 287EF1E9, later in June. Ijaz released portions of his alleged chats with Haqqani to the press. Interior minister Rehman Malik only hurt Haqqani’s cause when he confirmed that Ijaz and Haqqani had been in contact, despite the former envoy’s claims to the contrary. “This is communication through SMS by two individuals,” said Malik. “One is an American national and the second is our ambassador.”

 There was no small talk between Ijaz and General Pasha that evening, but in order to establish his credentials Ijaz did give the spy chief a rundown of his life—his weightlifting wins as a U-Va. student, his academic honors at MIT and Harvard, his foray into the world of high finance, his friendship and falling out with former U.S. president Clinton, his one-time ambition to run for the U.S. Senate.

 They sat facing each other across a table piled with printouts, documents, and Ijaz’s laptop. As Ijaz walked him through the cache of alleged evidence, General Pasha could no longer maintain his sangfroid. He grimaced and looked shocked at times, but managed to not give away how he intended to proceed with the information he had been provided.

 But he did proceed. His boss, General Kayani, met with Zardari twice in two days to discuss Memogate. Facing pressure from his own Corps Commanders, the Army chief is said to have asked Zardari to act against Haqqani and at least two federal ministers who are believed to have assisted Haqqani in his alleged efforts to slander their institution, says a former official source whose accounts have proven accurate in the past. These ministers are believed to be interior minister Malik and petroleum minister Dr. Asim Hussain.

Continued….

Pages  1  2 Next

Related Posts:

1. Where nonsense has a life of its own 2. The mystery 3. Secret Pakistani-U.S. memo offering overthrow of military leadership revealed 4.  Imran Khan :: A. Zardari Barhi Beemari (Rampant Treason
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  1. […] 1. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [I] 2. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [II] 3. Where nonsense has a life of its own 4. The mystery 5. Secret Pakistani-U.S. memo offering overthrow of military leadership revealed 6.  Imran Khan :: A. Zardari Barhi Beemari (Rampant Treason […]

  2. […] Memogate Brouhaha 2. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [I] 3. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [II] 4. Where nonsense has a life of […]

  3. […] Memogate Brouhaha 2. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [I] 3. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [II] 4. Where nonsense has a life of […]

  4. […] 1. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [I] 2. MEMOGATE: Who in the World is Mansoor Ijaz? [II] 3. Where nonsense has a life of its own 4. The mystery 5. Secret Pakistani-U.S. memo offering overthrow of military leadership revealed 6.  Imran Khan :: A. Zardari Barhi Beemari (Rampant Treason […]


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