Storm gathers over Pakistan "coup" memo


Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani is reported to have tendered his resignation on Wednesday (American time) following allegations that he had submitted a memo on behalf of President Asif Ali Zardari to former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen to pre-empt a possible coup in the wake of the May 2 operation against al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

However, several hours after news broke of the resignation offer made during the night (Pakistani time), there was no word from the Government on whether it had been accepted or not. Pakistani correspondents based in Washington reported that Mr. Haqqani sent off the letter - explaining his position - and did not return to the Embassy after lunch.

In the letter, Mr. Haqqani is said to have denied drafting or delivering a memo as alleged by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz - who claimed to have been the carrier of the message -- in an article in the Financial Times last month. Pointing out that he had been consistently accused of being against the Pakistani military, Mr. Haqqani's contention is that he has only opposed military intervention in political affairs.

Though Mr. Ijaz's article came out in October and the Foreign Office subsequently denied the existence of the memo, it gained traction last week after the businessman came out with a `factsheet' detailing the BlackBerry messages that went back-and-forth between him and the unnamed Pakistani official and a U.S. contact.

In the memo, Mr. Zardari is said to have wanted the U.S. to stop a possible coup and in return offered a new national security team which would sever links with the Haqqani network held responsible for many attacks on international troops in Afghanistan. Though Mr. Ijaz has till date not publicly named the official, the Pakistani media - an influential section of which has had an adversarial relationship with Mr. Haqqani - began suggesting that the person concerned was the Ambassador himself.

Mr. Ijaz's second salvo added fuel to the controversy that was gathering storm with the military in Pakistan reportedly communicating its displeasure to the government, resulting in Mr. Zardari summoning Mr. Haqqani to Islamabad on Tuesday. Despite the resultant speculation that he was being shown the door, the Ambassador initially maintained that it was normal for heads of mission to be summoned home to brief the government and since he had not visited Islamabad since May, this was long overdue.

In fact, even on Wednesday Mr. Haqqani gave an interview to Christian Science Monitor's breakfast show in which he described Pakistan's political and media scene as ``a Democratic administration with 36 Fox News Channels''.

Another twist to this controversy was added on Wednesday with Admiral Mullen's office - which had last week denied receiving such a memo - confirming its existence to The Cable website. Pointing out that the retired admiral was always being flooded with paperwork, the spokesman said his office had received the memo but no attention was paid to its contents. ``He did not find it at all credible and took no note of it then or later. Therefore, he addressed it with no one.''

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:20:57 PM |

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