By Aakar Patel
December 20, 2011
Mansoor Ijaz’s memo to the American Army, given in the wake of May 2, says 10 things: 1; General Parvez Kayani was desperate to find someone to blame for being unable to stop America from killing Osama bin Laden. President Asif Ali Zardari felt the threat of a coup 2; Pakistan’s Army was complicit in hiding Bin Laden 3; the pressure the army felt from Point 2 produced the opportunity to finally get rid of the army’s dominance over the people of Pakistan. Could the US help by banging their fist on Kayani’s and General Pasha’s desks and stop them from sacking the government? 4; the civilians would put together a national security team that America would approve 5; Zardari would order an inquiry into Bin Laden’s presence. It would comprise of independent people and Washington was welcome to suggest names 6; action would be taken against civil and military officers complicit in hiding Bin Laden 7; al Qaeda members found in Pakistan would be handed over to America 8; Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme would be disciplined under a programme begun by Musharraf 9; the ISI section coordinating with Jalaluddin Haqqani would be dissolved 10; Pakistan would assist India in investigating the Mumbai attacks. If the ISI officers were found involved, they would be handed over.
Point 1 came from the pressure felt by the government. Point 2 was probably an assumption, made when most people thought the same thing. However, we do not know if it is true and perhaps the Abbottabad Commission, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, will reveal this. What Point 3 seeks is the natural order of democracy. That it must be done through American pressure says more about Pakistan’s Army than about its politicians. There is a long history to Point 4. Pakistan’s national security policy comprises mainly of causing mischief abroad. It took America to get rid of then-ISI chief Lt General Javed Nasir after the Bombay blasts of 1993. That Pakistan’s elected government acknowledges the problem is a sign of its maturity. Point 5 is a valid and logical proposal. To tell America it could suggest names is no crime. Point 6 is something Pakistan’s Army should have been doing in any case. It is alarming if it is not currently doing so, as this suggests. Point 7 is a policy the Pakistan Army started under Musharraf. Point 8 is a concern for the world. Pakistan has demonstrably failed to protect its most valuable military assets. It should stop hiding its nuclear bombs from America and begin protecting them from its internal enemies. Point 9 is linked to Point 4. The ISI should stop needling Afghanistan’s elected government. Point 10 will be offensive to Pakistanis, but if they can switch off their hatred, they will see it is the right thing to do.
In sum, there is nothing that is wrong with the memo. Even if Husain Haqqani dictated it, even if Zardari knew of it, it has the real interests of Pakistan at its heart.
Pakistanis, especially journalists and judges, should line up to demand answers of Kayani and Pasha on points 1, 2, 6, 9 and 10 first. The cause should be tackled before effect. By chasing Haqqani and Zardari out, they are instead doing the army’s work — exactly what the memo feared.
The writer is a director with Hill Road Media and a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Express Tribune, Lahore