‘Memo-gate’ Scandal:

A Challenge to Civil-military Relations in Pakistan

The question of responsibility is an important one for the Government of Pakistan and its citizens. Pakistan’s democracy is still stifled by its history of military dictatorships, but its active civil society and media continues to push for an explanation, as a legal debate unfolds over whether Haqqani’s alleged involvement in dragging the US into Pakistan’s internal affairs constitutes treason.

Dubbed ‘memo-gate’ by the Pakistani media, the scandal has rocked the world of Pakistani politics, exposing widening rifts between civilian and military leaders and highlighting the tense nature of the country’s relationship to the US, which is viewed by many with deep resentment. With President Asif Ali Zardari’s popularity at rock-bottom levels and mass opposition rallies taking place in recent weeks, it has also furthered speculation about the possibility of early elections orchestrated by the military, or even a military coup.

‘Haqqani is the first casualty, but there may be more. Now the military establishment and its backers in the media will turn their attention to President Zardari, whom they say was ultimately behind the mem’ says Badar Alam, editor of the monthly Herald magazine, Mr. Alam adds that Mr. Haqqani’s departure ‘proves beyond a doubt’ that the military is in charge of Pakistan’s foreign affairs.

The scandal was instigated by an op-ed by Pakistani-American investor Mansur Ijaz in the Financial Times, in which he wrote that he ‘along with a high-ranking diplomat whom he later named as Haqqani’ had written a memo asking the US for ‘direct intervention’ to prevent a military coup in the aftermath of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

In exchange, the memo contained a number of pledges designed to please the US, including allowing the US to appoint an investigator into the bin Laden affair, reining in the country’s notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, and closer cooperation in fighting terrorism. US Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen has acknowledged receiving the memo, but said he did not believe it to be credible or that it came from Zardari.

The ambassador, Husain Haqqani, has denied claims he was behind a memo delivered to the U.S. military chief asking for help in installing a “new security team” in Islamabad that would be friendly to Washington.

The “memogate” scandal is adding to pressures on the already deeply unpopular government. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had submitted a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court in regards to the memo controversy. It also seeks the name of former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani to be place on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The President, Federation, Chief of the Army Staff, Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz were made party in the case.

DG ISI Suja Pasha and foreign secretary have also been made party in the case.

Some analysts have speculated that President Asif Ali Zardari himself could be in danger if charges that he signed off on the memo gain traction. “The target is not me, the target is President Zardari and Pakistani democracy,” said Haqqani, who has resigned over the affair.

Though Pakistan has a civilian president, the military retains vast political and economic power. It has ruled Pakistan, directly or indirectly, for most of its six-decade existence, and fiercely resisted attempts by civilian leaders to curb its role.

If authentic, the memo would fuel politically toxic charges that the government is colluding with the United States against the interests of the country and its army. Though Washington pumps huge amounts of aid into the country, the U.S. is highly unpopular here. The affair has been whipped up by rightwing critics of the government and those close to the military establishment, which doesn t trust Haqqani.

The unsigned memo was sent soon after the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a city outside Islamabad and was delivered to Adm. Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer at the time. The bin Laden raid led to intense and highly unusual domestic criticism of the army.
A Pakistani English-language newspaper and a Pakistan based website published the text of the memo. After initially denying any knowledge of the document, Mullen s spokesman confirmed he received it but ignored it because it was not credible.

Original Article of Mansoor ijaz

Published in Financial Times

Time to Take on
Pakistan’s Jihadist Spies

By Mansoor Ijaz

Early on May 9, a week after US Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan’s military and intelligence channels. The embarrassment of bin Laden being found on Pakistani soil had humiliated Mr Zardari’s weak civilian government to such an extent that the president feared a military takeover was imminent. He needed an American fist on his army chief’s desk to end any misguided notions of a coup ‘and fast.

Gen Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, The memo promises to allow the U.S. to propose names of officials to investigate bin Laden s presence in Pakistan, facilitate American attempts to target militants like al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri and Taliban chief Mullah Omar and allow the U.S. greater oversight of Pakistan s nuclear weapons.

The memo also accuses Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani of plotting to bring down the government in the aftermath of the bin Laden assassination. It asks Mullen for his “direct intervention” with Kayani to stop this.

The newspaper also printed what it said were transcripts of Blackberry messenger conversations between Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin who claims to have delivered the memo to Mullen via an intermediary, on the orders of Haqqani.

The conversations show Haqqani aland his troops were demoralised by the embarrassing ease with which US special forces had violated Pakistani sovereignty. Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s feared spy service, was charged by virtually the entire international community with complicity in hiding bin Laden for almost six years. Both camps were looking for a scapegoat; Mr Zardari was their most convenient target.

The diplomat made clear that the civilian government’s preferred channel to receive Mr Zardari’s message was Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. He was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and could convey the necessary message with force not only to President Barack Obama, but also to Gen Kayani.

In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: ‘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.’

The memo was delivered to Admiral Mullen at 14.00 hours on May 10. A legedly discussing the wording of the memo with Ijaz and telling him to go ahead.

“Ball is in play now. Make sure you have protected your flanks,” Ijaz allegedly tells Haqqani after handing over the memo.

Some analysts have suggested the affair is a conspiracy cooked up by the military to embarrass the government or remove Haqqani.

Ijaz has a history of making claims to be well connected with U.S. politicians. Under the Clinton administration, he said U.S. officials told him Sudan was willing to turn over then-fugitive bin Laden, who was taking refuge there. Ijaz said Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger rejected the deal because he was unwilling to do business with Sudan a claim that Berger immediately denied.

Haqqani is a key conduit between two countries that mistrust but need each other. Because the United States and the Zardari government are so unpopular in Pakistan, he attracts flack from all directions. His supporters say he has performed his job well, battling for Pakistan s interest during several crises

Haqqani resigned on November 22 over his alleged involvement in preparing a secret memo to the United States offering to replace Pakistan’s military and intelligence leadership in the aftermath of May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Haqqani continues to deny any involvement in the memo, but his longstanding views on civil-military relations render his participation plausible. The question of responsibility is an important one for the Government of Pakistan and its citizens. Pakistan’s democracy is still stifled by its history of military dictatorships, but its active civil society and media continues to push for an explanation, as a legal debate unfolds over whether Haqqani’s alleged involvement in dragging the US into Pakistan’s internal affairs constitutes treason.

President Zardari no doubt faces a risk that with Haqqani’s resignation, the political opposition and military may begin to question the possibility of his involvement in ‘Memogate’ as was suggested, then denied, then suggested again by Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman at the center of the scandal. The Supreme Court and the activist-minded Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry could also take up this issue as part of its agenda against PPP’s corruption and bad governance. The government must strike a balance between acmeeting between him and Pakistani national security officials took place the next day at the White House. Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs, it seems, neither heeded the warning, nor acted on the admiral’s advice.

On September 22, in his farewell testimony to the Senate armed services committee, Admiral Mullen said he had ‘credible intelligence’ that a bombing on September 11 that wounded 77 US and Nato troops and an attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13 were done ‘with ISI support. ‘Essentially he was indicting Pakistan’s intelligence services for carrying out a covert war against the US ‘perhaps in retaliation for the raid on bin Laden’s compound, perhaps out of strategic national interest to put Taliban forces back in power in Afghanistan so that Pakistan would once again have the ‘strategic depth’ its paranoid security policies against India always envisioned.

Questions about the ISI’s role in Pakistan have intensified in recent months. The finger of responsibility in many otherwise inexplicable attacks has often pointed to a shadowy outfit of ISI dubbed ‘S-Wing’ which is said to be dedicated to promoting the dubious agenda of a narrow group of nationalists who believe commodating public calls for justice and maintaining its strength in the lead up to the March 2012 Senate elections, during which the PPP is expected to win a majority of seats.

If Pakistan’s civilian leadership continues to disappoint, Kayani will have a harder time convincing the rest of the senior military leadership, which views the civilians as corrupt and inept, to stay out of domestic politics.

The United States smartly stayed out of it this time, with the White House, Department of State, and the embassy in Islamabad issuing statements that the memo issue was an internal matter for Pakistan’s democratic institutions to address. The United States should push for more balanced civil-military relations in Pakistan, but it should limit how it exerts its influence to resolve those civil-military conflicts. Doing so under the circumstances of ‘Memogate’ would have only confirmed the views of Haqqani’s critics, who identify him as an American stooge, and of his supporters, who credit him with holding together a broken bilateral relationship. Both views exaggerate Haqqani’s influence on the United States and Pakistan, which are bound together by forces greater than personalities, namely the ability of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to conduct attacks on the United States from Pakistani territory.

Haqqani’s weakness was not that he was too close to the US, or underperforming as Ambassador. Rather, it was his inability to convince the military establishment that he represented the entire Pakistani government, and not just the civilian leadership. Do not forget that before ‘Memogate’ the 2009 scandal over the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid legislation pulled the United States into another domestic conflict that revolved around Haqqani. At the time, the military blamed Haqqani for the legislation’s attempts to contain the military’s role in civilian affairs. What was intended to be a historic moment in US-Pakistan relations and an effort to focus on the needs of the Pakistani people become mired in a decades old imbalance in civil-military relations. The job of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States has never been easy.

United States cooperated with Haqqani on many unexpected developments; the shooting of two Pakistanis by American contractor Raymond Davis, managing the aftermath of the bin Laden raid, the unfortunate death of key interlocutor only they can protect Pakistan’s territorial integrity.

The time has come for the state department to declare the S-Wing a sponsor of terrorism under the designation of ‘foreign governmental organisations’. Plans by the Obama administration to blacklist the Haqqani network are toothless and will have no material impact on the group’s military support and intelligence logistics; it is S-Wing that allegedly provides all of this in the first place. It no longer matters whether ISI is wilfully blind, complicit or incompetent in the attacks its S-Wing is carrying out. S-Wing must be stopped.

ISI embodies the scourge of radicalism that has become a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down the political and financial support that sustains an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global antiterror-ism efforts at every turn. Measures such as stopping aid to Pakistan, as a bill now moving through Congress aims to do, are not the solution. More precise policies are needed to remove the cancer that ISI and its rogue wings have become on the Pakistani state.

Pakistanis are not America’s enemies. Neither is their incompetent and Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, a tremendous expansion of US counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, as well as attempts to revitalise civilian engagement in the country.

US-Pakistan relationship now faces some of the most challenging policy questions it has faced in decades, related to defining Pakistan’s role in an eventual reconciliation process with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the impact of the 2014 international troop drawdown in Afghanistan on Pakistan’s national security interests. Because of the high risks these questions pose for both the United States and Pakistan, the next envoy to Washington must be able to speak to the whole gamut of bilateral issues, including Pakistan’s security priorities, which will remain front and center to US national security interests in the foreseeable future.

An article in a British paper last month by Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman with political connections in Washington, has taken a toll of the civilian government of President Asif Zardari in Islamabad. The irony is that it was written to strengthen Mr Zardari against encroachments by General Ashfaq Kayani.

Mr Ijaz claims that shortly after the US Navy Seal raid to extract OBL from Abbottabad on May 2, the Zardari government felt threatened by General Kayani and sought out Mr Ijaz to convey its insecurity to Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff and avowed “friend” of General Kayani, to fend off a possible coup. Accordingly, with the help of a top Pakistani diplomat close to President Zardari, Mr Ijaz drafted and dispatched a secret “memo” portraying the Pakistani military as being part of the problem rather than the solution to America’s dilemma in Afghanistan. Interestingly, the “article” also paints the Pakistani military in negative light and exhorts the Obama administration to start wielding the stick instead of offering carrots to it.

One might have expected the Pakistani media to focus on several critical questions raised by the memo. First, what was the nature of the threat faced by President Zardari from his army chief that compelled his diplomatic envoy to seek American help in warding it off? Second, what was the Pakistani government’s need to specifically seek out Mr Ijaz to do the needful when direct and confidential contact already exists between the two governments? Third, why is the Pakistani military such a “problem” for the strategic interests of both governments?

But these issues have largely gone begging. Instead, such is the poverty of philosophy, the Pakistani media has trained its gun sights on the Pakistani diplomat and elected government who are both charged with “conspiring against the state”. This is an extraordinary statement that reverses the established order of the Pakistani constitution. The civilian government is duly elected and all organs of the state are constitutionally subservient to it. But in this formulation “one” organ of the state, the military, has been substituted for the “whole” of the state and an elected and legitimate civilian government has been made subservient to it! Instead of the military conspiring against the elected government, it is the government that is charged with conspiring against its own military.

In the event, it isn’t surprising that the military has turned the tables on the civilians once again. Mr Ijaz has been compelled to reveal all in order to prove his credibility but the irony is that he will never again be taken as a credible and confidential interlocutor by anyone. The finger is pointed at Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, as the diplomat in question and the military has demanded his head. But the irony is that President Zardari will only weaken himself further by cutting his most articulate and friendly link with Washington.

The military has been gunning for Hussain Haqqani for over a decade. He ran afoul of General Musharraf in 2002 for his critical newspaper columns in Urdu and English. So he decamped to the US where he wrote his seminal book on the unholy historical nexus between the Mosque and Military in Pakistan. After he was appointed Ambassador to Washington in 2008, the military embarked upon a campaign to defame him. He was accused of acting against the “national interest” by manipulating the insertion of “pro-democracy” clauses in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation that committed $7.5 billion to Pakistan over five years as a “strategic ally.” He was blasted for enabling CIA operatives to get visas despite the fact that authorization for over 90 per cent duly came from the Pakistan Foreign Office/ISI or the Prime Minister’s secretariat. He was criticized for pledging an impartial and public investigation into how OBL came to be lodged in Abbottabad when the military was insisting there would be no more than an internal secret inquiry at best. And he was painted as an “American agent” for recommending a pragmatic and responsible Af-Pak and US-Pak foreign policy.

The writing on the wall was clear when Imran Khan thundered against Mr Haqqani in Lahore last month and Shah Mahmood Qureshi demanded an inquiry against him for “conspiring against the state”. Both are inclined to do the military’s bidding.

The core questions remain. Was the military complicit or incompetent in “L’affaire OBL”? What was the nature of its disagreement with, and threat to, the Zardari government following “Operation Geronimo”? How was Mansoor Ijaz manipulated by various Pakistani protagonists?

A third series of questions has risen for the umpteenth time. Is the constitution subservient to the military? Is an elected government answerable to the “state”? Should an unaccountable military or elected civilians define the “national interest”?

The fate of Asif Zardari’s PPP and also that of Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN, the two mainstream parties that majorly represent the Pakistani voter, hinges on answers to these questions.

Who is Masoor Ijaz?

Mansoor Ijaz (born 1961) is an American businessman of Pakistani ancestry. He is an investment banker and conservative media commentator , mostly in relation to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the founder and chairman of Crescent Investment Management LLC, a New York investment partnership since 1990 that includes retired General James Alan Abrahamson, former director of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Ijaz has had ties to former CIA Director James Woolsey. Ijaz is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Mansoor Ijaz was born in Tallahassee, Florida and grew up on a farm in rural Virginia. Ijaz received his bachelor’s degree in nuclear physics from the University of Virginia in 1983 and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985, where he was trained as a neural sciences engineer. His father, Dr. Mujaddid Ahmad Ijaz,

Mansoor Ijaz (born 1961) is an American businessman of Pakistani ancestry. He is an investment banker and conservative media commentator , mostly in relation to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the founder and chairman of Crescent Investment Management LLC, a New York investment partnership since 1990 that includes retired General James Alan Abrahamson, former director of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Ijaz has had ties to former CIA Director James Woolsey. Ijaz is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. was a theoretical physicist who played a major role in nuclear detterence development throughout 1970s and 1980s, and was a pioneering figure in the designing of the weapons.

Ijaz developed CARAT, a currency, interest rate and equity risk management system. He started his own investment firm in 1990. Away from Crescent’s daily business affairs, Ijaz serves on the College Foundation Board of Trustees at the University of Virginia and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Media Commentator

He used to appear regularly on a variety of financial and political news programs for CNN Fox News, BBC, Germany’s ARD TV, Japan’s NHK, ABC[disambiguation needed ] and NBC. He has commented for PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer and ABC News Nightline with Ted Koppel. Ijaz has been featured twice in Barron’s Currency Roundtable discussions. He has also contributed to the editorial pages of London’s Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, Newsweek International, The Christian Science Monitor, The Weekly Standard, National Review, USA Today, and the Times of India. He endorsed views in the period prior to the Iraq War, later proven to be false, that included the presence of WMDs in Iraq and ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Among other topics, he commented on the Osama bin Laden [4] and Nuclear Proliferation.

Fox News analyst on Special Report

Mansoor Ijaz was a Fox News Analyst and played a popular role on Special Report. . He was the most popular guest on the show and appeared on Fox more than 100 occasions. Ijaz would articulate opinions in support of the Bush White House and neo-conservative foreign policy.

Iran Nuke Exclusive

In 2006, in an interview with Gulf News, he made the world exclusive claim that Iran already had a nuclear bomb and that US think-tanks were already formulating strategies to overthrow the Iranian Government

International negotiator

Mansoor Ijaz has been involved in unofficial negotiations between US and Sudanese governments with regard to extradition of Osama bin Laden. In 1996 the United States Congress had imposed sanctions against the Sudanese government over the terrorist operations on its soil. Mansoor Ijaz reportedly tried to negotiate a deal between Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir and Clinton administration officials including Sandy Berger. Ijaz argued the U.S. should adopt a policy of “constructive engagement” with Sudan, in return for deporting Osama bin Laden. However bin Laden made his way to Afghanistan after the deportation from Sudan. According to Ijaz, that was a missed opportunity to capture bin Laden who has not even been indicted by US authorities, a claim that Clinton’s administration has denied[citation needed]. The 9/11 Commission found that although “former Sudanese officials claim that Sudan offered to expel Bin Laden to the United States”, “we have not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim.”

Statements Regarding bin Laden

According to Ijaz, the Sudanese government offered the Clinton administration numerous opportunities to arrest bin Laden and those opportunities were met positively by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright but spurned when Susan Rice and counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke persuaded National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to overrule Albright.

Ijaz’s claims in this regard appeared in numerous Op-Ed pieces including one in the Los Angeles Times and one in the Washington Post co-written with former Ambassador to Sudan Timothy M. Carney Similar allegations have been made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose and Richard Miniter, author of Losing bin Laden, in a November 2003 interview with WorldSeveral sources dispute Ijaz’s claim, including the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States (the 9-11 Commission) which concluded in part “Sudan’s minister of defense, Fatih Erwa, has claimed that Sudan offered to hand Bin Ladin over to the United States. The Commission has found no credible evidence that this was so. Ambassador Carney had instructions only to push the Sudanese to expel Bin Ladin. Ambassador Carney had no legal basis to ask for more from the Sudanese since, at the time, there was no indictment out-standing.

The Mullen Secret Memorandum

In October 2011, various press reports stated that Mr. Ijaz passed a memorandum whose principal architect was Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani to Admiral Mike Mullen from President Zardari without the knowledge of the Pakistani Foreign Office or Foreign Minister. Amb. Haqqani denied in an official statement that he had any involvement in the writing of the memorandum or authorizing it to be passed on to Adm. Mullen. The memorandum, in its original form, was published by the Washington Post on November 18.

By: Fawaz Niaz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *