Pakistan Cyber Force: Memogate: DG ISI is the key witness after Mansoor Ijaz

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Memogate: DG ISI is the key witness after Mansoor Ijaz

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DG ISI General Ahmad Shuja' Pasha
LAHORE: The government finally succeeded in stalling at least for the present, the visit of the principal memogate witness Mansoor Ijaz to Pakistan and his subsequent appearance before the Commission. After President Zardari’s recent remarks in an interview, that he would accept the Parliamentary Committee’s memogate findings/recommendations, it was expected that the president’s men would leave no stone unturned to obstruct the Memogate Commission’s progress.

Did Mansoor Ijaz (MI) fear a government laid trap? Was he compelled to view Islamabad as hostile territory? The PPP’s strategy to intimidate and scare away MI from testifying before the Memogate Commission was well orchestrated through a combination of anonymous messages/emails that threatened his personal safety, taunts and veiled warnings of placing him on Exit Control List and frightening him with a ‘conspiracy case’ for his alleged role in toppling Benazir Bhutto’s previous government. Was MI justified in rejecting Rehman Malik’s security arrangements and demanding Army’s exclusive security cover instead? If Malik had failed to protect his own leader Benazir Bhutto on that fateful December 27 evening and mysteriously left her at the mercy of the attackers, could MI feel comfortable in any way with RM’s sarcastic security assurances? How could MI believe pledges of his safety from those government functionaries, against whose leaders he was to present crucial evidence?

If Husain Haqqani (HH) the prime memogate suspect (so far), could be provided VIP level security in the PM House, then MI deserved even greater protection being the principal witness. After MI’s lawyer Akram Sheikh’s sensational public revelation on January 20 that his client’s baggage included evidence about the president’s memogate involvement, then MI’s demand for Army’s exclusive security cover was fully justified.

Within the establishment few changes had already been made to forestall any unforeseen development related to memogate’s smooth investigation. With the visibly pro PPP bureaucrat Nargis Sethi appointed as Secretary Defence, any move from the security establishment to address MI’s genuine security concerns could then be countered. The FIA recently fired some senior and experienced forensic experts who could have been useful to examine the BB data handed over by MI to the Commission. Did the Commission really expect to locate and retrieve HH’s Black Berry sets from his official residence in Washington DC? The Commission had been smartly put on a wild goose chase. It was least surprising when our Embassy’s Deputy Chief Mission failed to recover the BBs. Have they found their way to a safe locker of HH’s ‘well wishers’ in DC?

Did the USZ government’s withdrawal of support to MI upset his plans? The USZ decision to come to the rescue of their Islamabad cronies was apparently aimed to thwart the Army/ISI’s resolve to take memogate towards its logical end. HH’s illustrious wife, reportedly a USZ citizen, former media producer and sitting MNA was already in Washington lobbying successfully for her husband on Capitol Hill and in the USZ media.

After MI reportedly shared his memogate evidence with USZ officials in a recent Switzerland meeting, the possibility of USZ Administration/CIA/Pentagon bringing strong pressure on him at the eleventh hour not to appear before the Commission therefore cannot be ruled out. The USZ embassy in Islamabad accordingly announced on January 20 that it would not provide security to MI, that he would travel to Pakistan as a common USZ citizen as per his own choice and would be treated like other American citizens.

The Commission should exercise all possible options to get to the bottom of this anti state conspiracy. While MI has a last chance to appear on February 09, the Commission should not give up on the Supreme Court’s mandate to collect the facts even if it required a visit abroad by any of its Honourable members. The option of interviewing MI via video conference should be reconsidered. Senior law experts including a retired chief justice have publicly supported this as a perfectly legal course. If the Commission’s orders of January 09 regarding provision of security by the Army/police were misinterpreted or lacked clarity, then it should issue unambiguous orders for provision of Army’s security to MI so as to satisfy his legitimate safety issues. Giving joint security responsibility for a foreign national who was the star witness in such a high profile case has inherent problems of command and control which could end up in national embarrassment.

MI’s credibility and image would suffer irreparable damage both in Pakistan as well as internationally if he fails to follow up his oft repeated vows to reveal the whole truth before the Supreme Court or any Memogate tribunal/Commission in Pakistan. If all options to present evidence before the Commission fail, he has the moral obligation to disclose the hitherto untold facts in a press conference abroad in presence of the Pakistani/international media.

Since the DG ISI had personally met MI in London on October 26 last and reportedly brought back substantial evidence/data, his testimony, as the second principal witness remains critical towards unfolding the memogate truth. The fact that the DG ISI requested to present his evidence in camera to the Commission indicates that he was in possession of solid proof that must come before the nation. The Commission should also task the ISI to takeover all remaining gadgets/devices from MI for forensic examination should MI fail to come to Pakistan.

The Army chief and DG ISI had declared the memo a reality and strongly recommended that the matter be probed. They should ensure that vested forces do not sabotage this case. If some PPP leaders continue to create indirect hindrances in the Commission’s progress, it would further strengthen public view that the party was bent upon protecting its topmost leadership by every possible means.

The nation would demand that memogate be taken to its logical end and the real masterminds must not be let off unexposed. It now remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court/Commission would uphold the cause of truth and justice or be outsmarted by the memo conspirators.

Written by Brig (R) Farooq Hameed Khan
Enticing Fury
Pakistan Cyber Force



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