Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz on Friday alleged that President Asif Ali Zardari had prior knowledge of the U.S. raid in Abbottabad and had ordered the army not to attack the helicopters that entered Pakistani airspace to take out al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
Mr. Ijaz — who authored the ‘memogate' controversy with his allegations that the former Ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, had sought American intervention after the raid to pre-empt a coup in Pakistan — made this charge in London ahead of another round of his deposition via video conference before the Islamabad-based judicial commission from the Pakistan High Commission in London. He refused to come to Pakistan on the premise that his life would be under threat.
However, unlike his earlier contentions that triggered a near head-on between the civilian and military leadership of the country, the Pakistani-American's allegation that the President had approved what was billed as “breach of Pakistani sovereignty” did not create any furore this time round.
According to Mr. Ijaz, two people knew of the raid before it took place. Mr. Zardari was informed by his American counterpart Barack Obama and he asked Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to “stand the F-16s down” that had been scrambled to take care of the U.S. helicopters entering Pakistani airspace.