Pakistan scandal’s latest twist: naked wrestling
By CHRIS BRUMMITT
The Associated Press – ISLAMABAD : A scandal over a secret memo to Washington that could bring down the Pakistani president took a strange turn Wednesday when a music video surfaced featuring the chief accuser acting as a commentator for a naked female wrestling bout.
Opponents of Mansoor Ijaz, an American of Pakistani origin, said the clip damaged his credibility ahead of his scheduled appearance at a Supreme Court commission in this conservative Muslim country. The Florida-born businessman has pledged to provide damning evidence that the Pakistani government sent the note seeking U.S. help preventing a military coup in the aftermath of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
Others were simply amused at the latest twist in an affair that has transfixed the media and raised tensions between the government and the powerful military to dangerous levels. Dubbed “memogate” in the Pakistani media, one Twitter user suggested it should now be renamed “booty-gate.”
Ijaz, who boasts of close friendships with the U.S. security establishment and past back-channel diplomatic roles in Sudan and Kashmir, claims the unsigned memo was authored by the then-Pakistan envoy to Washington, Husain Haqqani.
Ijaz says that at Haqqani’s request, he delivered the memo to Adm. Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer at the time. Mullen’s spokesman confirmed that his boss did receive the memo from Ijaz but that he did not find it credible and ignored it.
Haqqani denied any role in the memo but resigned last year amid pressure from the outraged military. Ijaz has said that he gave computer records implicating Haqqani to Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, who he says flew to London to meet with him in October. Pasha has told the court that he found the evidence credible.
The country’s top court is now probing the affair, which some believe could result in treason charges against Haqqani. President Asif Ali Zardari could also be vulnerable if — as Ijaz’s lawyer claims — it can be proven he also knew about the note. The investigation comes as Pakistani-U.S. relations are at an all-time low.
It was unclear why the wrestling video, which was made in 2004 and has been viewed for years on the Internet, came to light only now. Ijaz’s role was apparently spotted by a blogger late Tuesday and spread quickly through social media.
Ijaz told The Associated Press he thought the video’s emergence was part of an effort by Haqqani to discredit him ahead of his testimony but conceded he had no evidence of this. He confirmed that the video was not a hoax. ….
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