A glaring civil-military imbalance
Amir Mir explains
Haqqani’s ouster is
the outcome of the
age-old tussle in
The fall from grace for Husain Haqqani, Pakis- tan ambassador to the
United States, on the charge of
seeking American help against
the mighty military establishment of his own country to
ward off a possible coup, is the
outcome of a constant civil-military tussle.
The tussle has been on since
April 2008, when Haqqani
replaced a khaki-turned-diplo-mat retired Major General
Mahmood Ahmed Durrani as
ambassador to the US.
Tensions between the civilian and the military leadership
began simmering again following the October 10 publication of an op-ed by Mansoor
Ijaz in The Financial Times,
claiming that he helped deliver a controversial memo, supposedly dictated to him by
Haqqani, considered to be a
confidante of Pakistan
President Asif Zardari, to
Admiral Mike Mullen. The
memo, he said, was meant to
fend off a possible military coup against the government in
Islamabad after the US Navy SEAL raid in May that killed
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Ijaz, who has a knack for finding himself at the center of
controversies, claimed that in return for US help, Zardari
had offered to replace the chiefs of the army and Inter-Services Intelligence. Written May 10, the memo reportedly
told Mullen that after the raid in Abbottabad that killed bin
Laden, there was a dangerous slide in Islamabad in which no
controls appeared to be in place. It warned that the military,
unhappy with the covert US raid, could topple the civilian
government and if that happened, Pakistan could become a
sanctuary for bin Laden’s legacy. The memo also told the
Americans that an opportunity existed for civilians to gain
the upper hand over the army and intelligence directorates.
The memo allegedly offered a plan on how Pakistan’s
national security leadership could be altered in favor of
American interests, with the formation of a new security
team on top of the list. According to the memo, a new team,
formed with US help, would hold an independent and
accountable inquiry into the bin Laden raid and implement a policy of either handing over to the US or killing Al
Qaeda leftovers and militants from the various groups
operating from Pakistani soil. The team would also give the
American military the ‘green light’ to conduct operations to
capture or kill them on Pakistani soil.
Also, the new security team would develop an acceptable
framework of discipline for Pakistan’s nuclear program.
The memo also offers to reshape the national security leadership, cleaning those elements within the military and
From left, Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and chairman of the joint chief of staff committee Lieutenant General Tariq Majeed (now
retired) in Rawalpindi. Memogate has exacerbated tensions between the frail Pakistani civilian government and its powerful generals
intelligence agencies that have supported religious radicals
and the Taliban.
According to Ijaz, the memo was from Zardari and dictated to him (Ijaz) by Haqqani about a week after the
Abbottabad raid. Former US national security advisor
James Jones has said he delivered the memo to Mullen
after receiving it from Ijaz.
The Pakistan government has denied knowledge of the
memo. Mullen initially denied having dealt with Ijaz, but
later acknowledged having seen the memo although he said
he disregarded it as not being credible.
Haqqani, who is disliked by Pakistan’s military establish-
ment for criticizing it in his writings before being appoint-
ed ambassador, rejected Ijaz’s claims as a ‘bundle of lies,’
saying, ‘I have been consistently vilified as being against the
Pakistani military even though I have only opposed its
intervention in political affairs.’
He added that the enemies of democracy were behind the
His primary defense was that the memo was unsigned
and unverified. He said Ijaz had given several interviews to
the media that showed that he only wanted to create misunderstanding between the civilian and military establishments, and strain Pakistan-US ties further.
Claiming that he was ready for a probe through a
supreme court judge, Haqqani said, ‘I was defending the
Pakistan army on American television channels after the
May 2 Abbottabad raid, unlike Mansoor who had declared
the ISI a terrorist organization. Remember, he is a US citi-
zen; how could he defend the interests of Pakistan?’
Haqqani’s clarifications apart, Ijaz has already retracted
his previous claim that there was some understanding
between Zardari and Haqqani regarding the memo, saying
that the president had no knowledge of any such docu-
ment. Speaking on a Pakistani talk show, Express News,
November 20, Ijaz said the president might have asked
Haqqani to help after the May 2 raid while leaving the
mechanics to the ambassador. This backtracking has given
the Pakistani government some respite, and created doubts
about the credibility of the accuser.