Mansoor Ijaz claimed CJ ‘owes’ Nawaz Sharif
RAWALPINDI: Although his guns are currently focused on former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, the creator of the Memogate controversy, US citizen Mansoor Ijaz, has vilified or denigrated virtually every individual and institution in Pakistan at some point in time. Research into the writings of the controversial figure reveal that once he described the most respected Chief Justice in Pakistan’s recent history, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, as someone who “sadly, owes his return to power to Mr Sharif” –a reference to the PML (N) leader.
Mansoor Ijaz’s derogatory remarks about the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan were slipped into an article titled, ‘A game changer for Pakistan-US relations’ published on the website of the International Center for Peace & Democracy-ICFPD in October 2010. In that article, Mansoor Ijaz claimed that “President Barack Obama had characterised Pakistan as the ‘cancer’ inhibiting US progress in Afghanistan. He went on to criticise the army, President Zardari, Mian Nawaz Sharif and the Chief Justice to conclude that American intervention was the only way things would change in Pakistan.
“The army, Pakistan’s only viable institution of governance, can’t decide whether it wants to nurture the Taliban so it can maintain strategic depth in Afghanistan or kill them so the money spigot continues to flow from Washington,” Mr Ijaz wrote. He added, “Pakistan’s vaunted intelligence services stand accused of harbouring America’s No. 1 enemy, Osama bin Laden, in northwest frontier border areas in the relative luxury of homes, not caves, by the very NATO officials they are supposed to be assisting in tracking down the terror master and his key aides.” (This was well before the US secret mission in Pakistan in May 2011 that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad).
After attacking the army and the intelligence services, Mansoor Ijaz also took a shot at Pakistan’s politics and the viability of civilian institutions including the judiciary with whom he says he is now anxious to cooperate to “tell the truth” about Haqqani.
“To top it off,” he wrote, “Pakistan’s revolving door politics will soon see Asif Ali Zardari, the president, at fisticuffs with a Supreme Court that is threatening to reopen corruption cases against him at the behest of another former premier, Nawaz Sharif. The Chief Justice, sadly, owes his return to power to Mr Sharif.”
Ironically, Mansoor Ijaz took a U-turn after initiating Memogate and argued in an article on December 12, 2011, that the conflict between institutions he had initiated would make Pakistan stronger. He described the Memogate battle as, “It is a fight between the feudal politics of Pakistan’s barons, President Asif Ali Zardari being chief among them, and the military’s dominance of its industry, security and strategic sectors.”
Forgetting his earlier characterisation of the honourable Chief Justice as someone who “owes his return to power to Mr Sharif,” this time Mansoor Ijaz described both the Supreme Court and the PML-N leader positively. “The Supreme Court has taken on the challenge addressed to it by a leader of an opposition political party who felt he couldn’t get the ‘memogate’ truth out of a biased Parliamentary committee. An Inquiry Commission has been formed as a result,” he wrote in his December 2011 article justifying his actions.
He also praised the political emergence of Imran Khan by saying, “A former cricket hero turned politician now routinely attracts tens of thousands of supporters at gathering points around the country as he tries to coerce the Arab Spring’s winds to blow further east,” creating suspicions about his political motives in relation to the Memogate claims.
Mansoor Ijaz has a long history of changing his stance and levelling accusations against serving government officials. There is a particular similarity between Ijaz’s charges against Haqqani and the accusations he made against the current US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, whom he charged with not cooperating with him when she was Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in the 1990s after he worked hard on a memo with the anti-US government in Sudan about Osama bin Laden.
According to CNN’s Peter Bergen, “In 2003, journalist Richard Miniter, in a book titled ‘Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror,’ relied on Ijaz as the principal source for the key part of his thesis, which concerned the five years Osama bin Laden spent in Sudan in the early and mid-1990s. Miniter described multiple attempts Ijaz made between August 1996 and 1998 to interest the Clinton administration in improving relations with Sudan, as well as Sudanese offers to hand over intelligence on al Qaeda.
“In his account to Miniter and in later writings, Ijaz claimed to have helped draft a proposal for Sudan to provide intelligence on Al Qaeda to the Clinton administration, and that Sudan had offered to arrest bin Laden. Clinton administration officials did not take Ijaz up on any of his offers to help because they viewed him as ‘a Walter Mitty living out a personal fantasy,’ according to Miniter. And the 9/11 Commission, which interviewed Ijaz, concluded that were was no ‘credible evidence’ that the Sudanese had made any offer to hand over bin Laden.”
In other words, Mansoor Ijaz claimed his own ideas as having come from the Sudan authorities and then said he had shared them with US officials who did not take them seriously. The only difference is that in Sudan, Ijaz did not target anyone like he is targeting Husain Haqqani, and there was no inquiry about whether the Sudanese officials who communicated with Ijaz did anything wrong.
Other Mansoor Ijaz fantasies listed by Bergen are: “In a 2004 interview with Fox News about Iraq, Ijaz, in his then-capacity as a foreign affairs analyst for the network, made another sensational claim: Chemical warheads were being smuggled into Iraq for a potentially catastrophic attack against American troops. And to top it off, Ijaz strongly suggested that the whole plan was given the green light by hardline Iranian mullahs. The story had everything to attract attention — Mad mullahs! WMD on the loose in Iraq! (At last!) And the threat of thousands of potential American casualties.”
“Ijaz now concedes, ‘This was an erroneous report based on information I had received from a former intelligence official on the ground in Iraq. I did not second source this story.’ Ijaz told Fox in 2003 that ‘eyewitness sources’ placed Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Iran. Asked by host Brit Hume about the sourcing of the story, Ijaz responded, ‘I can just tell you that the source is unimpeachable. It is from inside Iran. These are eyewitness accounts.’ There was, of course, nothing to this story. Ijaz now says, ‘At the time I made it, I believed the source who had given the data to me.’
Bergen continues: “Described as a ‘US nuclear proliferation and terrorism expert,’ Ijaz told the Gulf News newspaper in 2006 that Iran not only had a nuclear bomb, it was seeking to ‘duplicate them in large numbers before revealing their existence to the world.’ Five years later, Iran still does not have a nuclear weapon, but Ijaz asserted to CNN, ‘They had in my view then, and it remains my view now, at least one nuclear weapon stored in component parts.’
“In August 2003 Ijaz told the British newspaper The Guardian that he had learned that the Bush administration had brokered a deal with Pakistan’s dictator, Gen Pervez Musharraf, not to capture or kill bin Laden so as not to cause unrest in the Muslim world. Ijaz told The Guardian “There was a judgment made that it would be more destabilising in the longer term (if bin Laden were captured or killed). There would still be the ability to get (bin Laden) at a later date when it was more appropriate.”
In case of Pakistan, Mansoor Ijaz has had a longstanding desire to reshape its leadership and politics. As the Musharraf regime entered its closing phase in 2007, he wrote in an article in The National Review online on September 8, 2007, that instead of holding elections, a caretaker government comprising of people names by him should be formed. In addition to suggesting that the then Chairman Joints Chief of Staff Committee and former ISI chief, General Ehsanul Haq, should be named the new Chief of Army Staff, Mansoor Ijaz called for General Jehangir Karamat as the head of the new caretaker government.
“The caretaker government should be headed by Jehangir Karamat, former army chief and ex–ambassador to the United States, who has a reputation and knack for telling his bosses where to get off when they are wrong,” Mansoor Ijaz wrote. He added, “Karamat would fuse together the support of Pakistan’s only two functional institutions — the judiciary and the army — and would carry the support of important ally countries, including the United States. Most important, he is genuinely committed to improving the lot of Pakistanis on the street. He has their trust, and he can rebuild confidence in civil institutions.”
Continuing with his fantasy of bringing changes in Pakistan of his choice, Masnoor Ijaz said that the caretaker government should include, “the current prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, to maintain continuity and stability of the financial markets and economy (GDP has grown at a 7-percent annual rate and national debt has been cut from 100 percent to 60 percent of GDP during Mr Aziz’s tenure). So too should senior advisers of Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party join; Aitzaz Ahsan would be an ideal candidate, being a close adviser and confidante of Ms Bhutto, and having fought for and won the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry late last month. The ruling faction of Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League could offer former foreign and finance minister Sartaj Aziz and former Musharraf ally Chaudhary Shujaat Hussein. Mukhtar Mai, the woman who became a national hero by standing up to her rapists and tormentors — and whom Mr Musharraf vilified for embodying all that was wrong with Pakistan — could become the representative of the disaffected and poor to ensure their voices were brought to bear on the country’s future.”
Such writings depict Mansoor Ijaz’s lack of knowledge about the political realities of Pakistan and are also reflected in the memo he transmitted to Admiral Mullen through General James Jones. His frontal attack on Haqqani and President Zardari in case of Memogate can be seen as a continuation of his desire to change the politics of Pakistan in the direction of his choice though why senior military leaders, Nawaz Sharif and senior members of Pakistan’s judiciary are willing to risk the country’s stability on the word of a man with such a track record defies rational thinking.
Courtesy: Daily Times