Even as Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani attempted to mend fences with the military leadership, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security on Thursday decided to summon Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, whose allegations authored the ‘memogate' controversy that has strained civil-military relations like never before in the four-year-long stint of the Zardari dispensation.
After reviewing the security arrangements made for Mr. Ijaz — who has refused to appear before a Supreme Court-appointed commission investigating the ‘memogate' controversy twice on the premise that his life was in danger — the Committee was of the view that prima facie the measures taken to protect the Pak-American businessman were adequate.
Saying Mr. Ijaz would be served notice through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Committee chairman Raza Rabbani said members expected him to be present at the next meeting on February 10. “The Committee feels that if Mansoor Ijaz has any apprehensions regarding his security, they may be addressed keeping in view rules and law of the land.'' Mr. Ijaz has been given a last chance by the judicial commission to appear before it on February 9 while rejecting his request for testifying in a third country.
His allegations have split wide open the civil-military divide in a country where the latter has always had the upper hand.
According to the businessman, he had sent a memo at the behest of the former Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani, to the former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen seeking Washington's intervention to pre-empt a military takeover after the American raid in Abbottabad to take out al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Haqqani stepped down, but matters did not rest with the Supreme Court being petitioned by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) in early December.
Though subsequent weeks saw the charges and counter-charges reach a shrill pitch, an attempt was made by Mr. Gilani on Wednesday to mend fences by maintaining that his remarks against the Chief of Army Staff and the ISI Director-General were not directed at the two individuals as such but said in a certain context because of “some of the discrepancies made by certain functionaries'' against whom action had since been taken.
Eearlier this month, Mr. Gilani had said affidavits submitted to the Supreme Court by COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI DG Shuja Pasha on ‘memogate' were unconstitutional because they had not sought the approval of the competent authority under the rules of business.