Mansoor Ijaz’s Record Speaks for Itself
Ijaz presented himself as a pro-Western secularist opposed to the Pakistani army’s interference in the country’s civilian affairs. He wanted the world to support civilian rule in Pakistan. He erupted with indignation when bin Laden was discovered in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad. The Generals, he argued, must be taught a lesson.
Then in October, after months of being outside the limelight, he decided to update the world on his recent exploits. In an op-ed in the Financial Times, he wrote that he had been plotting to subdue the Pakistani army. He alleged that a top ranking Pakistani diplomat had conscripted him in this grand scheme, and together they had crafted an extraordinary memo to Washington: if Barack Obama squeezed the Pakistani army, the civilian government would shut down state patronage of terrorism and offer the U.S. a free hand against militants inside Pakistan.
No one in the West accorded serious attention to Ijaz’s claims. Why would Pakistan’s ambassador seek the help of a character as utterly lacking in credibility as Ijaz to deliver a message that could be communicated securely through numerous other diplomatic channels? But in Pakistan, where a rightwing counterestablishment survives almost entirely on conspiracy theories, they lit a fuse. Televangelists and columnists clamoured for the “traitorous” Pakistani diplomat’s identity to be disclosed. The army seemed anxious to deal with the civilian who was said to have urged the Americans to curb their - the army’s - power. “Memogate” was born.
Then, inexplicably, Ijaz switched sides and joined the army. He named his “co-conspirator” as Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington. Having sabotaged his stated cause, and fully aware of the danger in which he placed Haqqani, Ijaz met the head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in London and volunteered “evidence” of Haqqani’s involvement in the “conspiracy”: emails, texts and Blackberry messages.
Today, Haqqani - an unyielding advocate of democracy in Pakistan - is out of a job and awaiting prosecution. Some members of Pakistan’s ruling elite would like to see him executed. His wife, Farahnaz Ispahani, faces threats to her life. Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, has suffered a stroke and is in Dubai. In other words, the civilian establishment of Pakistan - the wing that Ijaz claims to support - is in meltdown. Pakistan’s military-intelligence mafia - whose machinery supports the Taliban in Afghanistan - is back in power, and keen to exact revenge for the humiliation inflicted on it by the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden.