Shahid Nama with Dr Shahid Masood
"Memo Gate" - Mansoor Ijaz full interview & Husain Haqqani response - VOA Exclusive
A multimillionaire Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz alleges that Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, drafted the now famous memo on behalf of
President Asif Ali Zardari in order to secure the post of the national security adviser in Pakistan. "Haqqani's ambition was to go back and become Pakistan's new national security adviser and essentially act as the brain trust for all that would happen between the United States and Pakistan on counter terrorism issues beginning then." claimed the businessman. The memo was first mentioned in an op-ed column Mr. Ijaz wrote in The Financial Times in October. The controversy that ensued has created a political crisis for the government of President Asif Ali Zardari. Ambassador Haqqani has been ordered back to Islamabad to clarify the situation.
According to Mr. Ijaz, President Zardari feared a military coup in the aftermath of the US raid that killed Bin Laden and wanted the help of Admiral Mike Mullen, who was then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US army, to prevent it. In return, he was willing to offer the US a new national security team of its choosing and policies that would include ending relationships with the Taliban and the Haqqani network and allowing the US the opportunity to kill or capture high profile terrorist suspects on its soil. The offer also included a more transparent nuclear program.
Admiral Mullen's spokesperson has said that he did receive a memo from a person named Mansoor Ijaz but he never considered it credible and never acted on it. Ambassador Haqqani denies that he has ever written, read, or delivered such a memo. He has also questioned the idea that he needed the help of a third party to reach out to Admiral Mullen when he has good relations with the US administration himself.
In an interview with the Voice of America, Mr. Ijaz claims that he was chosen as the messenger because he would have been the "perfect fall guy" had there been a leak somewhere. He says he knew certain people who could get this memo in the hands of Admiral Mullen in time for the meeting he was going to hold with senior Pakistani officials to whom the message was to be delivered.
Mr. Ijaz claims that after the meeting Ambassador Haqqani told him that Admiral Mullen was "very proactive and agreeable to the ideas contained in that memorandum."
This is not the first time Mr. Ijaz has been enshrined in a controversy that involves multiple governments. In the past, he claimed to have been involved in unofficial negotiations between the US and the Sudanese government over the possible extradition of Osama Bin Laden. He wrote several op-ed pieces claiming that the Clinton administration missed an opportunity to arrest Bin Laden. Senior Clinton administration officials denied that claim.
Mr. Ijaz says he has had several conversations with the ambassador since this controversy erupted and the tone has always been "civil" with the ambassador telling him that he will never trust him again but will remain his friend.