Memogate Controversy

Memogate Controversy or Mullen memo controversy refers to claims made by Mansoor Ijaz, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, that the govt feared a coup after the May 2 raid by US that led to Osama bin Laden’s death. Ijaz says Hussain Haqqani, then Pak envoy to US, helped him deliver a memo to Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, seeking US help to prevent a coup.

ü Central actors in the plot included American-Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz, who alleged that former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani asked him to deliver a confidential memo asking for US assistance. The memo is alleged to have been drafted by Haqqani at the behest of President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has opened a broader inquiry into the origins, credibility and purpose of the memo.

What happened exactly?

  • On May 2, 2011, the US Navy Seals invade Pakistani territory, raid a private home in Abbottabad and kill Osama bin Laden without any response from the Pakistani military.
  • Within a week, a secret memo was allegedly delivered to US Admiral Mike Mullen through unofficial channels requesting US intervention in Pakistan in case of a military coup in exchange for a revamp of the civilian government that would replace national security officials and would eliminate Section S of the ISI, a special intelligence unit with ties to the Taliban.
  • In October 2011, The Financial Times published an Op-Ed by US businessman Mansoor Ijaz in which he explains the motive of the memo in which he was allegedly asked to deliver: “The embarrassment of bin Laden being found on Pakistani soil had humiliated Mr Zardari’s weak civilian government to such an extent that the president feared a military takeover was imminent.”
  • In the same month, Lt General Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI, flied to London to meet Mr Ijaz. In November 2011, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, General Kayani and President Zardari meet at the Presidency in Islamabad to discuss the secret memo controversy.
  • Later, Mansoor Ijaz confirmed to Dawn that Ambassador Haqqani “was indeed the senior Pakistani diplomat who asked me to assist him in privately delivering his message to Admiral Mullen.”
  • Haqqani was asked to return to Islamabad and had to resign over the affairs concerning the alleged memo. Then the Pentagon confirmed that former US National Secretary Adviser James Jones passed the memo to Adm. Mullen but the admiral “did not find the contents credible at all.”
  • On November 23, 2011, Sherry Rehman was appointed as Pakistan’s new ambassador to the US. on November 25, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told the BBC that suggestions that President Zardari is linked to the memo are “ridiculous” and an inquiry at “the highest level” will satisfy all parties and critics.
  • On November 28, Supreme Court admitted a petition authored by the PML-N that seeks a probe into the secret memo scandal. Ijaz’s allegations trigger three parallel probes – by the army, ISI and National Assembly’s committee on national security assisted by the interior ministry and Supreme Court. The hief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhury issued notices on Sharif’s plea.
  • Government said that only National Assembly committee competent to probe. Army indirectly endorsed the demand for judicial inquiry saying Ijaz’s allegations, if true, had national security implications. Chief Justice rejected Gilani govt’s opposition and orders judicial probe. It admited Haqqani’s plea challening constitutionality of the action but refused to stay judicial commission’s proceedings.

In January 2012, Kayani while in China told China’s People’s Daily that actions of Kayani and Pasha were unconstitutional. Beijing praised the Pak army during Kayani’s visit. At the same time, it used the party journal to report Gilani’s version.