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US Negotiators Leave Pakistan, Supreme Court Commission Blames Husain Haqqani for Memo

There are two separate major developments coming out of Pakistan in the last 24 hours. First, US negotiators have left Pakistan without reaching an agreement on reopening NATO supply routes. Both sides appear to be trying to gloss over the obvious conclusion that this represents a major breakdown in the process, but since it appears that Pakistan is insistent on a real apology over the killing of 24 Pakistani troops last November and a stop to US drone strikes in Pakistan, there is no reason to continue the lower level talks on details of route reopening until the larger political issues are settled.

On a separate front, the commission appointed by Pakistan’s supreme court has finally delivered its report and it places blame squarely on former ambassador Husain Haqqani for authoring the memo that sought US help in avoiding a military coup days after the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Haqqani has been ordered to return to the country, but he is rightly pointing out that the commission’s findings are not the result of a judicial process and that he has not yet presented his defense.

Dawn provides a summary of the breakdown in negotiations:

The Pentagon said on Monday the United States was pulling its negotiators from Pakistan but the State Department said the team could go back at an appropriate time.

Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington, Sherry Rehman, also indicated that the talks would continue.

But diplomatic observers in the US capital noted that “no spin can hide the fact that relations between the two countries are at their worst now”, as one of them said on an American news channel.

“I believe that some of the team left over the weekend and the remainder of the team will leave shortly,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told a briefing in Washington. “This was a US decision.”

The Express Tribune offers more details:

Officials familiar with the development said the two sides have almost worked out technical details on the resumption of Nato supply lines but the deal could not be finalised due to political issues, including the US refusal to offer an explicit apology for the Salala raid and halt drone strikes.

“Unless the US offers something that resembles an apology, it is very difficult for Pakistan to reopen Nato supplies,” said an official familiar with the development.

“We want to have a package deal and the issue of apology is still included … there will be no compromise on it,” the official added.

The US appears to be taking a very hard line at this point. Reuters quotes a “senior US government official”: Read more

In Memogate Cross-Examination, Ijaz Claims to Have Transcript of Zardari, Kayani Phone Conversation

Following up on his original video deposition from late last month, Mansoor Ijaz, once again by video link from London, was subjected to cross-examination yesterday and today by the judicial commission investigating the Memogate scandal. Ijaz reiterated his primary claim he has made from the start, that his actions were prompted by a strong belief that a military coup was imminent on the heels of the US action that killed Osama bin Laden in May, 2011.

Although he did not list the countries, Ijaz claimed to have been briefed by intelligence agents from four different countries. He submitted multiple documents as his proof. The Express Tribune described the documents as including a transcript of a phone call between Pakistan’s President and Army Chief:

After Haqqani approached him first, Ijaz said, he used his contacts with intelligence agencies of various countries to obtain documents, including travel records of Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, minute-by-minute Pakistan Air traffic Control flight monitoring of US helicopters which infiltrated Pakistani airspace for the May 2 raid, and a transcript of a call between President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Interestingly, Dawn’s coverage of the cross-examination doesn’t specifically mention Zardari and Kayani by name as being in the transcripts, although it comes close:

During the cross-examination before the judicial commission investigating the case, the Pakistani-American businessman said he had been briefed by at least four intelligence networks of different countries after the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2, last year.

He said he had obtained the information about actions and reactions of Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, President Asif Ali Zardari and the military secretary to the president after the incident, details of foreign visits of the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and transcripts of conversation between air traffic control staff and the pilots of the US helicopters which raided Osama’s compound.

/snip/

He also claimed to have the transcripts of conversations between the President’s House and the Army House on the operation.

How is it that an American citizen of Pakistani descent would have access to intelligence agencies of so many countries?  And, especially, how could Ijaz come into possession of a transcript of a call between Zardari and Kayani? Read more

Mansoor Ijaz Rejects Security Arrangements, Does Not Go To Pakistan for Testimony

Today is the day on which Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz was scheduled to provide testimony before a judicial commission in the Memogate controversy that has heightened tensions between Pakistan’s civilian government and its military. In many ways, Ijaz stands as the central character in the case, as he was the first to mention the existence of the memo at the heart of the controversy and was responsible for delivering it to US authorities. Remarkably, although the memo seeks US help in supporting the government’s removal of top leaders in Pakistan’s military and intelligence forces, and despite Ijaz’s claims that he and former Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani are close friends who worked together to produce and deliver the memo, Ijaz now claims that he wants military protection if he is to return to Pakistan and that he fears the government will seize and destroy important electronic evidence in his possession. Such a change of apparent allegiance is not surprising, given Ijaz’s controversial past.

The Express Tribune provides a short description of Ijaz’s refusal to come to Pakistan:

Despite assurances on full security from the judicial commission probing the Memogate scandal, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz has once again refused to come to Pakistan to record his statement, Express News reported on Tuesday.

Ijaz’s counsel, Akram Sheikh had earlier today – on the directives of the commission – written an email to his client to inform him that the commission had given assurances that he would be given full security on arrival.

Sheikh later distributed copies of Ijaz’s email response to the three judges.

A much longer article on the latest developments is carried in Pakistan Today, in an article that opens with the statement that the “government finally succeeded in scaring away Mansoor Ijaz”:

The counsel for Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman at the centre of the memo controversy, expressed his reservations on the security arrangements meant for his client’s appearance before the judicial commission, saying his client would be ready to record testimony before the commission either in London or Zurich. Read more

Zardari Released From Hospital, Remains in Dubai; Memogate Reply Delayed

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari was released from the hospital in Dubai on Wednesday, but has not returned to Pakistan. His reply to Pakistan’s Supreme Court investigation into the Memogate scandal had been expected today, but could be submitted tomorrow since the deadline has been extended.

Reuters gives us details on Zardari’s release from the hospital:

“President Zardari has been discharged from the hospital and he has moved to his residence in Dubai,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

The article also has more information on the ongoing question of whether Zardari suffered a stroke:

Zardari’s office had released a statement earlier on Wednesday from his doctor saying the president had been admitted to hospital with numbness and twitching in his left arm and had lost consciousness for a few seconds.

“All investigations are within normal range and he was kept for observation for a few more days,” Khaldoun Taha said, adding that Zardari would now rest at home and continue with his regular heart medications.

Zardari likely suffered a transient ischemic attack, senior sources in Zardari’s party said last week, an ailment that can produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage to the brain.

Admitting to a TIA appears to thread the needle nicely in providing a few symptoms consistent with the widespread rumors of a stroke while avoiding any long-term stroke damage which would be obvious should Zardari return to public life. With Zardari now out of the hospital, his need for “rest” begins to look more suspicious, especially with the rest taking place in Dubai. I’m having a hard time seeing how Zardari can take two weeks of rest outside the country at a time when such crucial questions are facing Pakistan’s government and then come back and resume his duties.

One immediate crisis facing Zardari is the investigation into Memogate being carried out by the Supreme Court. Read more

The Checkered Neocon History of Mansoor Ijaz, Instigator of Pakistan’s “Memogate”

As I noted yesterday, Josh Rogin has been doing outstanding work on the issue now rocking Pakistan, a memo purportedly sent from the highest levels of the Pakistani civilian government seeking US support for shutting down the branch of Pakistan’s ISI that deals with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network and weakening Pakistan’s military.  Now that Rogin has confirmed existence of the memo (and today has even provided a copy of it), I’d like to return to the figure who got this whole scandal started, Mansoor Ijaz.  Here is information Rogin dug up regarding Mansoor Ijaz back on November 8, when Michael Mullen was still denying existence of the memo:

This is only the latest time that Ijaz has raised controversy concerning his alleged role as a secret international diplomat. In 1996, he was accused of trying to extort money from the Pakistani government in exchange for delivering votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on a Pakistan-related trade provision.

Ijaz, who runs the firm Crescent Investment Management LLC in New York, has been an interlocutor between U.S. officials and foreign government for years, amid constant accusations of financial conflicts of interest. He reportedly arranged meetings between U.S. officials and former Pakistani Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

He also reportedly gave over $1 million to Democratic politicians in the 1990s and attended Christmas events at former President Bill Clinton‘s White House. Ijaz has ties to former CIA Director James Woolsey and his investment firm partner is Reagan administration official James Alan Abrahamson.

In the mid-1990s, Ijaz traveled to Sudan several times and claimed to be relaying messages from the Sudanese regime to the Clinton administration regarding intelligence on bin Laden, who was living there at the time. Ijaz has claimed that his work gave the United States a chance to kill the al Qaeda leader but that the Clinton administration dropped the ball. National Security AdvisorSandy Berger, who served under Clinton, has called Ijaz’s allegations “ludicrous and irresponsible.”

Those are some pretty damning allegations.  Before moving to the detail from the source Rogin linked on Ijaz’s attempt to get $15 million from Pakistan in return for securing a positive vote in the House of Representatives for the Brown Amendment back in 1995, it’s worth getting the context for this bill.  From the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation: Read more

Rogin Obtains Proof Mullen Received Ijaz Memo, Pakistan Ambassador Recalled, Offers Resignation

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the US. (Wikimedia Commons)

Back on October 10, Mansoor Ijaz, an American from a Pakistani family, published a remarkable column in Financial Times in which he claimed to have been involved in the passing last May of a memo purportedly from Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to Michael Mullen, who was at that time Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ijaz described the memo as being prepared out of fears that Pakistan faced an imminent military coup as fallout from the government’s embarrassment over the ease with which the US carried out its mission to kill Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan. After Josh Rogin published denials from Mullen on November 8 that Mullen had any knowledge of the memo, Ijaz responded by publishing a number of communications with a Pakistani official from the time period in which the memo was being crafted. These communications are widely believed to have been with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.  In a flurry of action yesterday, Josh Rogin provided confirmation from Mullen that he had indeed received the memo, Pakistan recalled Haqqani for discussions and Haqqani offered to resign.

Unfortunately, the draconian “Terms and Conditions” at Financial Times prevent treatment of their material in the same way sane publications can be excerpted for quotes, so it will be necessary for readers to go through their ridiculous “free registration” process to read the Ijaz column in full at the link above. Suffice it to say that Ijaz described an offer represented as coming from Zardari to eliminate the branch of Pakistan’s secret Interservices Intelligence Agency (ISI) that deals with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Zardari sought US protection for taking such action.

Here is the denial Rogin obtained on November 8 from Mullen’s spokesman, Captian John Kirby:

“Adm. Mullen does not know Mr. Ijaz and has no recollection of receiving any correspondence from him,” Kirby told The Cable. “I cannot say definitively that correspondence did not come from him — the admiral received many missives as chairman from many people every day, some official, some not. But he does not recall one from this individual. And in any case, he did not take any action with respect to our relationship with Pakistan based on any such correspondence … preferring to work at the relationship directly through [Pakistani Army Chief of Staff] Gen. [Ashfaq Parvez] Kayani and inside the interagency process.”

Rogin goes on to describe Pakistani denials from that same time period:

Mullen’s denial represents the first official U.S. comment on the Ijaz memo, which since Oct. 10 has mushroomed into a huge controversy in Pakistan. Several parts of Pakistan’s civilian government denied that Ijaz’s memorandum ever existed. On Oct. 30, Zardari spokesman Farhatullah Babar called Ijaz’s op-ed a “fantasy article” and criticized the FT for running it in the first place.

“Mansoor Ijaz’s allegation is nothing more than a desperate bid by an individual, whom recognition and credibility has eluded, to seek media attention through concocted stories,” Babar said. “Why would the president of Pakistan choose a private person of questionable credentials to carry a letter to U.S. officials? Since when Mansoor has become a courier of messages of the president of Pakistan?”

Here is the admission from Kirby that Rogin obtained yesterday on the existence of the memo:

“Adm. Mullen had no recollection of the memo and no relationship with Mr. Ijaz. After the original article appeared on Foreign Policy‘s website, he felt it incumbent upon himself to check his memory. He reached out to others who he believed might have had knowledge of such a memo, and one of them was able to produce a copy of it,” Kirby said. “That said, neither the contents of the memo nor the proof of its existence altered or affected in any way the manner in which Adm. Mullen conducted himself in his relationship with Gen. Kayani and the Pakistani government. He did not find it at all credible and took no note of it then or later. Therefore, he addressed it with no one.”

Rogin also spoke with Husain Haqqani:

In an interview late on Wednesday afternoon, Washington time, Haqqani confirmed to The Cable that he will travel to Islamabad and has sent a letter to Zardari offering his resignation.

“At no point was I asked by you or anyone in the Pakistani government to draft a memo and at no point did I draft or deliver such a memo,” Haqqani said that he had written in his letter to Zardari.

“I’ve been consistently vilified as being against the Pakistani military even though I have only opposed military intervention in political affairs,” Haqqani said that he wrote. “It’s not easy to operate under the shadow of innuendo and I have not been named by anyone so far, but I am offering to resign in the national interest and leave that to the will of the president.”

Rogin goes on to speculate on the possibility that Zardari may sacrifice Haqqani in order to quell the controversy surrounding the memo, but from Haqqani’s statements Rogin provided, it does not appear that Haqqani will go quietly.

Dawn, which is usually considered to be closely aligned with Pakistan’s military, described yesterday’s events in this way:

A senior diplomatic source, when asked to comment on reports Ambassador Haqqani had sent his resignation to the president, said: “We cannot call it a resignation. He has sent a letter to prove that he is not guilty.”

In his message, the ambassador is believed to have written that he was not responsible for the letter that allegedly sought US support for sacking the ISI and army chiefs. The ambassador offered to resign if proven guilty.

Haqqani left his office at lunch and did not return. Before leaving, he sent an email to dozens of Pakistani journalists, giving details of a news conference he addressed in the morning on ties with US.

Earlier in the day, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government had summoned Ambassador Haqqani to Islamabad to learn more about a letter ‘falsely’ attributed to the president.

The Express Tribune chose merely to run a Reuters article that rehashes Rogin’s revelations (without citing him).

It will be very interesting to see what unfolds when Haqqani arrives in Islamabad.