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Pakistan general calls for Zardari probe

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  • Pakistan general calls for Zardari probe

    December 16, 2011 12:08 pm
    Pakistan general calls for Zardari probe
    Pakistan general calls for Zardari probe -
    By Matthew Green in Dubai
    Zadari (Pakistan president)

    Pakistan’s army chief has raised the pressure on Asif Ali Zardari, the embattled president, by calling for a swift investigation into a claim that he sought US help to rein in the country’s powerful generals.

    The allegation has sparked a furore in Pakistan and threatened to undermine Mr Zardari, who was flown to hospital in Dubai last week for medical treatment, injecting a fresh element of drama into the increasingly febrile political scene.

    The controversy hinges on an allegation that Mr Zardari authorised the dispatch of a secret memo asking the US to back a plan to decisively establish civilian supremacy over Pakistan’s military, in the volatile days after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

    The claims have infuriated the army, which jealously guards the enormous hidden influence it has amassed during decades of military rule, and whose leadership has viewed Mr Zardari with suspicion since he assumed power in 2008.

    Underscoring the degree of concern within the security establishment, General Ashfaq Kayani, the powerful head of the army, said in a statement to the Supreme Court that the memo represented an attempt to hurt national security.

    “I also recommended to the prime minister that time was of the essence and that the earlier we knew the truth the better it would be to address the negative fallout for the country,” Gen Kayani said.

    The remarks were published on Friday in Pakistani newspapers, which were quoting from Gen Kayani’s deposition to the Supreme Court on Thursday.

    The court is examining a petition brought by Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister and prominent opposition leader, who has demanded judges launch a full investigation.

    The prospect of a lengthy inquiry by the Supreme Court, which has taken an increasingly activist stance in recent years, has worried Mr Zardari’s supporters, who fear the affair has handed the military a new point of leverage over the fragile civilian government.

    The affair – dubbed “Memogate” in Pakistan – claimed its first casualty last month when Husain Haqqani, one of Mr Zardari’s closest allies, was forced to resign as ambassador to the US. Political commentators believe the controversy represents one of the biggest challenges yet faced by the government of Mr Zardari, who remains a deeply unpopular figure in Pakistan.

    The existence of the memo was first revealed by Mansoor Ijaz, a US businessman of Pakistani origin, in an opinion column he wrote in The Financial Times in October.

    Mr Ijaz has since said Mr Haqqani asked him to deliver the memo to Admiral Mike Mullen, who was then chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. Mr Haqqani and Mr Zardari both deny any involvement with the memo.

    Mr Haqqani, who has been a critic of the military’s influence in Pakistan, has returned to Islamabad where he hopes he will be exonerated by any official investigation. The Supreme Court has barred him from leaving the country pending its inquiry. Hearings are due to begin on Monday.

    The growing uncertainty in Pakistan’s political scene fuelled by the inquiry and Mr Zardari’s absence in Dubai has complicated Washington’s attempts to repair the latest crisis in US-Pakistan relations, triggered by the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a Nato air strike last month. Pakistan shut supply lines to Nato troops in Afghanistan, kicked the US out of an air base and boycotted an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn in retaliation.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  • #2
    I'd be completely unsurprised should Zardari not return to Pakistan. I'd be equally unsurprised if Haqqani survives to a life beyond prison.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs


    • #3
      Well, Zardari has returned to the fun starts.

      Cheers!...on the rocks!!


      • #4
        Lemontree Reply

        "Well, Zardari has returned to the fun starts."

        Thanks. Good info and it would seem he's more of a stand-up guy than I expected.
        "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
        "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs


        • #5
          of course, if this really WAS a true conspiracy, i'd have to say, it was most incompetently done.
          There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov


          • #6
            One excepts no less.

            A fragile experiment
            Huma Yusuf | Opinion | From the Newspaper
            (18 hours ago) Today
            A fragile experiment | Opinion | DAWN.COM
            MANSOOR Ijaz has done it again. His revelation last week that DG ISI Lt-Gen Shuja Pasha reached out to Arab countries to discuss the possibility of a coup has thrown yet another spanner in the civil-military works.

            As rumours fly across the country, it is becoming increasingly important to determine just how vulnerable the civilian set-up is to an ouster.

            Ijaz’s latest charge deserves to be thoroughly investigated for several reasons: the public deserves to know the military’s intentions vis-à-vis civilian governance in Pakistan. The revelation also draws a neat parallel with the accusations against former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani — seeking an outsider’s help to topple a domestic institution — and therefore deserves an equally proactive response from the guarantors of national security and sovereignty.

            Above all, Ijaz’s statements demand scrutiny because he has been pitted as a reliable source by the very authorities that he has now implicated in a potential coup plot. In his reply to the Supreme Court, Gen Pasha claimed satisfaction with the evidence provided by Ijaz in the context of the memogate scandal. It stands to reason, then, that his comments about the security establishment are credible too. In the broader context of a democratic transition, ascertaining how liable the civilian government is to an overthrow is crucial.

            As long as military coups threaten, politicians and the public at large have no reason to invest in the democratic system.

            Allowing a truly decentralised and representative set-up to take hold requires patience and tenacity, which are difficult to exercise knowing that the process is likely to be interrupted.

            The looming shadow of the army also prevents the public from holding the civilian government accountable for its actions — whether in the realm of policymaking or service delivery — because there is little point in taking an institution to task that is not the master of its own fate.

            Recent developments have exposed the poor resilience of the democratic system. In the immediate wake of memogate revelations, many commentators scoffed at the document’s claim that the civilian government had ever been threatened by a military coup and instead pointed out that the Pakistan Army has recently been operating on the back foot. Just a few months later, however, President Asif Zardari’s sudden departure for Dubai prompted much discussion in the mainstream media that he had been dismissed as the result of a soft coup.

            This was not the only time that Pakistanis have revealed their belief that democratic rule in Pakistan is transient. In order to reassure the public that a coup did not instigate Zardari’s evacuation to Dubai, a presidential aide explained that the only coup the president feared was a judicial coup. The statement recalled many speculations in the past four years that Pakistan was on track to adopting the Bangladesh ruling model.

            Talk of rule by army-approved technocrats or an army-appointed civilian puppet also abounds. Widespread scepticism about Pakistan’s democratic prospects does not sit well with the immense progress that has been made in this regard since 2008.

            Devolution to the provinces under the 18th Amendment, the extension of the Political Parties Act to Fata, calls for the creation of new provinces to ensure a more representative system — these are just a few examples of recent developments that have helped entrench democratic systems in this country.

            Decentralisation, in particular, significantly reduces the likelihood of military coups in future. The fact that these measures have reinvigorated democratic practices is evident in the political appeal of maverick candidate Imran Khan and the fierce issue-based campaigning currently under way as mainstream parties try to consolidate their position in the run-up to general elections.

            Despite these gains, there is little conviction in the stability of democratic rule. This is fuelled in part by the knowledge that Pakistani history has a bad habit of repeating itself. The country has witnessed a number of coups d’état and failed coup attempts, and 33 years of direct military rule since Independence. Time has shown that coups are more likely when the army finds its institutional interests threatened, when it perceives an external threat to national security, when economic performance is poor, and when the civilian government is perceived as illegitimate.

            Between deteriorating US-Pakistan relations and the Afghanistan endgame, soaring inflation and rampant government corruption, all the factors that make a coup imminent are in place, thereby spurring scepticism.

            What is notable, however, is that despite the conditions being ripe for a coup, one has not yet occurred. Many argue that this is because the military has been able to subjugate political stakeholders without taking overt action. Since May 2, political parties have repeatedly fallen in line to bolster the military’s standpoint on various issues, whether regarding relations with the US or the memogate fiasco. What remains to be seen is whether this compliance heralds the end of Pakistan’s latest democratic experiment, or the beginnings of genuinely representative rule.

            Consider the Turkish model for a moment: in order to phase the army out of the political sphere, Turkish leaders tried not to give the military an excuse to intervene in governance by protecting Turkish domestic and international interests. Turkish politicians also prioritised economic reform in order to stabilise the country. By so doing, they made the army’s involvement in civilian politics redundant.

            If this is the strategy that Pakistan’s civilian rulers are hoping to adopt, they can start by ordering an investigation into Ijaz’s new claims in order to indicate that the threat of a coup will not be taken lightly in a Pakistan committed to democracy.

            The writer is a freelance journalist.

            Double standards and the infallible military hierarchy
            December 19, 2011
            A female parliamentarian demanded that IISI chief, Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, should resign and face an inquiry.

            US President Harry Truman famously placed a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that said “The buck stops here”.

            Thousands of miles away and some 60 years later, the only message on anyone’s desk appears to be “The buck stops anywhere but here”.

            Memogate has been an embarrassment for the sitting government, even though the credibility of the memo seems to be shrinking day by day. Meanwhile, the ever-reliable Mansoor Ijaz has become a media darling for his incessant, single-source (at best) allegations that have essentially revealed that everyone in power, elected, selected or promoted, just wants to rubbish the country’s best interest to secure a greater share of power and work to achieve their own economic objectives.

            More importantly though, events that have occurred parallel to this episode have revealed the duplicity of certain parties in the upper echelon of government (although legally speaking, they really shouldn’t have that much power in the first place).

            Yes, on one hand we have seen a democratically elected, unpopular president sitting in hospital and a now former ambassador who at various times in his career has been called a Sharif sympathiser, a Mush/ army sympathiser and obviously a PPP sympathiser. Both have faced trials for alleged criminal actions, but by hook or by crook, neither was convicted, although the latter did have to quit his job due to the then, and as yet, unsubstantiated allegations of Mr Ijaz.

            On the other, there are two men who have overseen two of the most embarrassing episodes in Pakistan’s recent military history. Not since being caught out on the Kargil operation has the sitting government had to accept that the armed forces, which are all subservient to the elected government, are running of their own accord. Not since the Qadeer Khan/nukes for sale episode has the army claimed to have no knowledge of a major intelligence failure. Not since General Aslam Beg’s strong-arming of Chief Justice Afzal Zullah has the Supreme Court been placed under such one sided pressure from the army. Not since General Hamid Gul setting up the IJI has the ISI indulged in the kind of double-game it is claimed to be in now.

            Now there is a common thread here. Each of these incidents were, at least in the short-term, successfully played as failures of the civilian government. The army came out looking heroic and increased the public standing of the men committing these crimes. Not in a single case was the thought of a general resigning ever taken seriously. Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a petition in the Supreme Court over a decade back challenging the ISI’s interference in politics, but that petition still curiously remains untouched.

            That is what makes Bushra Gohar’s comments in Thursday’s National Assembly session so significant.

            Her call for Pasha to pack up his bags the same way Haqqani had to makes perfect sense. If we are to believe one allegation by a man of dubious credibility, why not another? For the conspiracy theorist, the haste with which Mr Ijaz withdrew his allegation rings alarm bells. For the rationalist, it seems his contacts in the establishment got to him. The same establishment that paid Ghulam Nabi Fai millions of dollars for his brilliant work at ending the Kashmir conflict and once and for all making the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir a part of Pakistan. Wait, that never happened.

            Now with the exaggerated, one-sided story being churned out to make the army look like victims of a ‘saazish’, and with all the chatter about Haqqani and Article 6, why not quickly examine how it would apply to the other set of players. Finding Haqqani guilty of high treason would need him to be proven guilty of attempting to “abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, or attempt or conspire to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means”.

            In short, he would have to be found guilty of attempting to take an unconstitutional action to achieve a political end, most likely consolidation of power for himself and elements in the government that were in the loop. Yes it’s illegal, and if the evidence is there, Haqqani is in deep waters, but is memogate really high treason?

            Pasha, on the other hand, is accused of planning a coup d’état, which loosely translates into an attack on the state, or, for a man who swore to “bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and uphold the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which embodies the will of the people, (and to) not engage (him) self in any political activities whatsoever”, an act of treason.

            At least if Mansoor Ijaz is saying the truth.
            To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


            • #7

              Opinion: Former ambassador's plight reflects decline of U.S.-Pakistan ties


              Special to the Mercury News
              Posted: 12/24/2011 03:08:38 PM PST
              Updated: 12/24/2011 05:20:23 PM PST

              The scary decline of relations between the United States and Pakistan -- the world's most dangerous nuclear-armed country -- is illustrated by the perilous plight of one man.

              Husain Haqqani was, until recently, the savvy and energetic Pakistani ambassador to Washington, dubbed by Bloomberg "the hardest working man in D.C." His job was thankless: trying to maintain ties between two countries that deeply distrust each other.

              Pakistan's military disliked Haqqani because of his long-standing opposition to its ties with Islamist groups. (He wrote the best book on the subject.) He also was regarded as too "pro-American." However, the generals apparently recognized that only someone like Haqqani could ease tensions with Washington and keep the U.S. aid flowing.

              So they let him keep working to prevent U.S.-Pakistani ties from breaking -- until now.

              Haqqani has resigned and returned home. He's accused by the military and the media -- no formal charges -- of drafting an unsigned memo asking Washington in May to help block a military coup in Pakistan. In return, Pakistan's civilian government supposedly would have cracked down on its military and ISI intelligence agency.

              Haqqani is forbidden to leave the country and could be charged with treason. But the "Memogate" affair is so bizarre, one has to ask whether it's merely a pretext for the Pakistani military to unseat the civilian government and rupture ties with the United

              The more details that emerge about this alleged scandal, the more fishy it looks. A Pakistani-American businessman named Mansoor Ijaz passed the memo to President Barack Obama's former national security adviser, Jim Jones, in May; Jones gave it to Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

              Ijaz ignited the firestorm by writing about the memo in the Financial Times in October. He says he was following Haqqani's instructions to convey a message from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari; he asserts that he has text messages that back up his story. But the tale is full of holes.

              Haqqani denies he had anything to do with the memo. Jones denies Ijaz ever mentioned Haqqani. In addition, Mullen says he paid the unsigned document no attention. Even putting all that aside, the story makes no sense.

              For one thing, Zardari had tried once before and failed miserably to gain control of the ISI; neither he nor Haqqani would have been likely to court another failure. Moreover, the memo was passed just after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, which left the Pakistani military weakened and unlikely to make a coup.

              Most telling, the well-connected Haqqani had no need to use an questionable courier to deliver messages. That brings us to the central weakness of the story: the credibility of Ijaz.

              Ijaz, who once managed an investment firm, had cultivated well-placed political friends in both parties. He seems like a clone of Walter Mitty, the Thurber character who had heroic daydreams and tried to convince others they were true.

              Ijaz asserts that he got Sudan in the mid-1990s to offer the Clinton administration intelligence on al-Qaida, and that Sudan offered to arrest Osama bin Laden. The 9/11 Commission found no "credible evidence" of any such Sudanese offer.

              Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst, has detailed a long list of sensational assertions by Ijaz to Fox News, CNN and British newspapers that were baseless. Example: Ijaz told Fox in 2003 that "unimpeachable eyewitness sources" placed bin Laden in Iran; later he admitted this was in error.

              This month, Ijaz argued, in a Newsweek interview, that the United States told Haqqani and Zardari in advance about the raid on bin Laden. Given the intense secrecy in which this raid was held, such a claim is ludicrous. It undercuts everything else Ijaz has said.

              Yet Pakistan's military and intelligence leaders are fanning the Memogate furor, which further inflames anti-Americanism in their country. They seem unaware that their hot pursuit of Haqqani -- and Zardari -- is likely to boomerang against their own interests and their country's interests as well.

              Pakistan needs to maintain its ties with the United States, no matter how fragile. If they break, Pakistan's generals lose military aid that won't be replaced by China. Without strategic cooperation between the two countries, neighboring Afghanistan will collapse into chaos after U.S. troops leave, a chaos that will blow back into Pakistan.

              Husain Haqqani was no traitor; he understood the need to prevent a U.S. rupture with Pakistan. His forced resignation could bring that rupture closer. By blindly pursuing Memogate, Pakistan's military leaders are boxing themselves into a situation that is as dangerous for their country as it is for America. Is that what the generals really want?
              Opinion: Former ambassador's plight reflects decline of U.S.-Pakistan ties - San Jose Mercury News
              To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway