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Memogate scandal: Zardari regime again fails to control the powerful army

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The so-called memogate scandal, that cost the job of Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, is perhaps a sequel to the July 2008 abortive attempt by the US client government of President Zardari to put the powerful military-run spy agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), under civilian control.

On July 27, 2008, Zardari government issued a notification to place the entire financial, administrative and operational control of the ISI with the Interior Ministry . The notification was withdrawn in less than 24 hours amid sharp reaction by the Army.

Apparently, Zardari government tried to put the ISI under civilian control on behest of Washington as after the Mombai attacks of December 2008, Senator Kerry called for putting the ISI under civilian control.

In the latest bid to control the Army and ISI, Pakistan's Ambassador to US, Hussain Haqqani, wrote a confidential memo to the then US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen that "a unique window of opportunity exists for the civilians to gain the upper hand over army and intelligence directorates due to their complicity in the (Osama Bin Laden) UBL matter." The ambassador assigned Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to deliver the memo to Admiral Mike Mullen through the courtesy of General James Jones.

Confidential memo

In an October 10 op-ed in top UK daily Financial Times Mansoor Ijaz wrote that on May 10, in the wake of Osama bin Laden's alleged killing in Abbottabad, he was asked to draft a memo that was to be delivered to Admiral Mike Mullen. Soon after the publication of this article, spokesman of the Presidency in Islamabad denied any such initiative followed by a denial on behalf of Mullen.

The matter heated up once again when Mansoor Ijaz released to the press 38 SMS messages exchanged with him on his Blackberry cell phone. But what has made things worse for Mr Zardari and Mr Haqqani is a confirmation by Mike Mullen's spokesman that he did receive the memo but paid no heed to it.

Mansoor Ijaz claimed the memo was written at the behest of Husain Haqqani and implicitly approved by President Asif Zardari, in which the Pakistani government sought Washington's help as it feared a military coup, following the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden in a US forces raid in Abbottabad. "Civilians cannot withstand much more of the hard pressure being delivered from the Army to succumb to wholesale changes."

There was also talk of replacing the current military leadership, of pledges to abandon support to all militant groups and also offers of a 'transparent' and secure handling of nuclear assets among others. " Washington 's political/military backing would result in a revamp of the civilian government that, "..in a wholesale manner replaces the national security adviser and other national security officials with trusted advisers that include ex-military and civilian leaders favorably viewed by Washington."

The confidential memo in part said:

In the event Washington's direct intervention behind the scenes can be secured through your personal communication with Kayani (he will likely listen only to you at this moment) to stand down the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment, the new national security team is prepared, with full backing of the civilian apparatus, to do the following:

1. President of Pakistan will order an independent inquiry into the allegations that Pakistan harbored and offered assistance to UBL and other senior Qaeda operatives. The White House can suggest names of independent investigators to populate the panel, along the lines of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, for example.

2. The inquiry will be accountable and independent, and result in findings of tangible value to the US government and the American people that identify with exacting detail those elements responsible for harboring and aiding UBL inside and close to the inner ring of influence in Pakistan's Government (civilian, intelligence directorates and military). It is certain that the UBL Commission will result in immediate termination of active service officers in the appropriate government offices and agencies found responsible for complicity in assisting UBL.

3. The new national security team will implement a policy of either handing over those left in the leadership of Al Qaeda or other affiliated terrorist groups who are still on Pakistani soil, including Ayman Al Zawahiri, Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani, or giving US military forces a "green light" to conduct the necessary operations to capture or kill them on Pakistani soil.

4. One of the great fears of the military-intelligence establishment is that with your stealth capabilities to enter and exit Pakistani airspace at will, Pakistan's nuclear assets are now legitimate targets. The new national security team is prepared, with full backing of the Pakistani government -- initially civilian but eventually all three power centers -- to develop an acceptable framework of discipline for the nuclear program. This effort was begun under the previous military regime, with acceptable results. We are prepared to reactivate those ideas and build on them in a way that brings Pakistan's nuclear assets under a more verifiable, transparent regime.

5. The new national security team will eliminate Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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