Ijaz met former RAW chief Sahay, claiming to have blessings of White House to broker a secret India-Pakistan deal on J&K
Mansoor Ijaz, the billionaire businessman now at the heart of a scandal that is threatening to bring down Pakistan's democratic government, had earlier approached India's intelligence services with an offer to broker peace between New Delhi and jihadists linked to the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, highly placed government sources have told The Hindu.
The billionaire businessman, the sources said, made contact with C.D. Sahay—who went on to serve as RAW's chief from 2003 to 2005 —claiming to have the blessings of the White House to broker a secret India-Pakistan deal on Jammu and Kashmir.
In October this year, Mr. Ijaz revealed that Husain Haqqani, Islamabad's ambassador to the United States, had recruited him into plot to ease Pakistan's generals out of positions of power. He went public with a memo calling on the United States to help Pakistan's government rid itself of the Army, and then made over evidence of his conversations with Mr. Haqqani to the ISI's chief, General Shuja Pasha.
President Asif Ali Zardari has since been forced to recall Mr. Haqqani—and many analysts believe what is being called “MemoGate” could end in a frontal showdown between the military and the elected government.
Mr. Ijaz's Kashmir mission reveals the businessman had a long history of participating in political intrigue — but failing to deliver on his promises, and then falling out with partners in public.
Ijaz's Mission Kashmir
Mr. Ijaz's offer came even as key Hizb ul-Mujahideen commander Abdul Majid Dar and former RAW chief A.S. Dulat were engaged in secret discussions aimed at bringing about a ceasefire. Mr. Dar and Mr. Dulat, the sources said, met in the United Arab Emirates after the Kargil war. Srinagar-based sources close to Mr. Dar admitted the meeting took place, but said it came about after the jihad commander experienced a spiritual epiphany while caught among a crush of pilgrims in Mecca.
Less than a fortnight after the July 25, 2000, ceasefire announcement, though the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's Pakistan-backed chief, Muhammad Yusuf Shah, backed out under ISI pressure—sparking off a bitter internecine war that would claim the lives of several members of the hardline faction, as well as Mr. Dar himself.
Eight weeks before the ceasefire, Mr. Ijaz was flown to Srinagar under RAW escort, where he met with top officials including then-XV corps commander Lieutenant-General Kishan Pal and Director-General of Police Gurbachan Jagat. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah hosted a dinner for the businessman on May 10, 2000.
In a November 22 article in the International Herald Tribune, Mr. Ijaz claimed credit for having organised the ceasefire, saying he implored Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, to “persuade the Mujahideen under his control to opt for non-violent means”. In the course of a three hour meeting, Mr. Ijaz wrote, “I told him that every civilian I met in Kashmir earlier that month had tired as much of the incessant violence imparted by Pakistan's militia forces.”
The ceasefire, Mr. Ijaz's account of events has it, fell apart, after “Pakistan's Islamic fundamentalists got wind of the proposal”. General Musharraf in turn “got cold feet”.
Mr. Sahay, RAW sources said, received calls from Mr. Ijaz on several subsequent occasions—one time, claiming to have the former head of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami, Qazi Husain Ahmad, on the line.
RAW's opinion, however, was that Mr. Ijaz did not have the influence to deliver on promises he made. His claims to have had a role in organising the ceasefire caused amusement
The Sudan affair
India's spies weren't the only players to lose faith in Mr. Ijaz. In the 1990s, Mr. Ijaz—who runs an investment bank in New York, and was a major donor to the Democratic party—claimed to have been relaying messages from Sudan's Islamist government to the White House. Mr. Ijaz later wrote his mission had given the United States an opportunity to eliminate Osama bin-Laden.
Key administration officials have since attacked these claims. Susan Rice, now the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, said Mr. Ijaz brought the administration of President Bill Clinton offers of counter-terrorism cooperation from Sudan—but that they never materialised.