chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been so critical of
the Pakistani military, then what is their ambassador
doing in Washington?
That means Ijaz is most likely helping the Pakistan army
by exposing Haqqani?
Absolutely. That’s why I’m saying that although he
claims that the ISI was out of control and that the ISI was
getting too big for its boots, actually he was hobnobbing
with the ISI. So he was playing....
Games with Haqqani?
Yes, games within games within games. And my feel-
ing is that he may have fooled both sides. I don’t know
what prompted him to write the FT article and leak the
story. That’s why I’m saying that in Pakistan everything
is a mystery.
Ijaz is an American citizen. Why is he out to harm
American interests in Pakistan?
Have you noticed for so long he has not been in
Washington? He has been more in London and elsewhere
in Europe. And if you ask me, on the face of it, I think
Haqqani is speaking the truth more than Mansoor Ijaz is.
Definitely. Whatever the inside story, Haqqani is more
Did Husain Haqqani, the then Pakistan ambassador to
the US, make the mistake of dictating the message through
I don’t know whether he dictated it or didn’t. It’s only one
person’s word against another. What Haqqani has been
telling the Pakistan government is that you can take all my
phones, all my devices, and check the record, I’m not in this at
all. So possibly, Mansoor Ijaz must have been kept in the loop.
The other interesting part of this issue is that we should know
that when a coup happens at all in Pakistan it happens at the
most unexpected time. In 2011 there has never been any indication — either before the death of Osama bin Laden or after.
More so after the death of Osama, the Pakistan army has been
so defensive that there was no chance of a coup. Whenever
you talk about the military in Pakistan or more specifically
about (its army chief) General (Ashfaq) Kayani, the response
is that he is not interested in taking over, he’s not (former
Pakistan president and army chief General Pervez)
Musharraf. He wants the military should remain supreme, as
it always has been in Pakistan, and that it should have control
over foreign policy. But he still wants a civilian government as
a front and Asif Ali Zardari suited everybody. President
Zardari was the most convenient person for everybody and
also for the army because the army could not have been as
comfortable as they have been with Zardari.
Now it seems that the honeymoon is beginning to end and
suddenly Imran Khan has become a new factor in Pakistan.
He (Imran) talks about a tsunami, about a wave in Pakistan,
and has been telling all the television channels: ‘ You can bet on
me, I will not only win next time, I will win hands down.’
Whether he wins or doesn’t win, one thing is for sure: Imran
Khan is making an impact, especially with the youth in
Pakistan. The most significant thing about his jalsa (rally) was
that it was held in Lahore, in the heart of Nawaz Sharif country. It was a huge rally. Whether he can translate it into votes
and whether he can win an election, time will tell. But it would
be worrying people in Pakistan, the kind of impact he is beginning to have. In Pakistan there is a feeling that Imran Khan is
very rigid. He may not be the best choice for prime minister.
Do you think Imran Khan is covertly supported by the
It’s very difficult to say. But the general impression is that
the army would be quite happy with Imran. Although Imran
himself has said that he will make sure — as every Pakistani
Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer turned politician, leads his Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf rally in Karachi, December 25, 2011
AKH TAR SOOMRO/REUTERS
politician has to say — that he will keep the army under his
He has said a few things about Kashmir. Will his rise worry
Not at all. He’s saying all the right things. I don’t know how
much of a politician he is and that will be tested in days to
come, but there is a consistency about him. What he is saying is that foreigners should leave Afghanistan, foreigners
should leave Pakistan. We don’t want interference. We can
sort out our problems ourselves. He is also talking about a
reduction in the military’s role. He is saying the same thing
for the Indian Army in Kashmir. Then a couple of days later
he also said, ‘We, India and Pakistan, need to move together
and move forward.’ He said, ‘We should put Kashmir on the
backburner, if we can move forward on other things,’ and
talked about trade.
Should India worry about the fallout of Memogate?
We should not worry too much just now. Unless this whole
thing continues and causes more problems for the civil-military relationship in Pakistan. People here will be watching it
very closely because it would impact the new efforts at reviving the peace process via trade and other ways.
In India there is a substantial lobby which is not very
enthusiastic about the peace process. So when something
like this happens in Pakistan, it is quite possible that the BJP
(Bharatiya Janata Party) or some people will say, ‘We told
you so — Why are you talking to Pakistan? Who’s in charge
in Pakistan? Nobody knows what’s happening in Pakistan.’
For the next few weeks or so, it will be watched from this
side. The positive thing is Sherry Rehman’s appointment (as
Pakistan’s ambassador to the US). This is a good choice and
in a sense whatever the inner story may be, in a sense out-
wardly, it stabilizes the civil-military position. It is not entire-
ly a military choice for Washington.
Coming back to Mansoor Ijaz, you are not being candid on
the issue of the Vajpayee government’s invitation to Ijaz
because you were then part of the Prime Minister’s Office.
I am telling you these kind of people are not invited. These
are operators. They appear from nowhere and know how to
get invited. So nobody — I can assure you — in the Vajpayee
government would have invited him. But here somebody
suddenly appears and says ‘I can do this for you.’
But I know a person to whom he showed his passport and
said I am invited by the Vajpayee government and he said,
‘Look at my passport there is no stamp on it.’