Time to take on Pakistan’s jihadist spies, opinion by Mansoor Ijaz, Financial Times

Reply Sun 4 Dec, 2011 12:20 pm
October 10, 2011
Time to take on Pakistan’s jihadist spies - Opinion
By Mansoor Ijaz - The Financial Times

Early on May 9, a week after US Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan’s military and intelligence channels. The embarrassment of bin Laden being found on Pakistani soil had humiliated Mr Zardari’s weak civilian government to such an extent that the president feared a military takeover was imminent. He needed an American fist on his army chief’s desk to end any misguided notions of a coup – and fast.

Gen Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, and his troops were demoralised by the embarrassing ease with which US special forces had violated Pakistani sovereignty. Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s feared spy service, was charged by virtually the entire international community with complicity in hiding bin Laden for almost six years. Both camps were looking for a scapegoat; Mr Zardari was their most convenient target.

The diplomat made clear that the civilian government’s preferred channel to receive Mr Zardari’s message was Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. He was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and could convey the necessary message with force not only to President Barack Obama, but also to Gen Kayani.

In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: “The new national security team will eliminate Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.”

The memo was delivered to Admiral Mullen at 14.00 hours on May 10. A meeting between him and Pakistani national security officials took place the next day at the White House. Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs, it seems, neither heeded the warning, nor acted on the admiral’s advice.

On September 22, in his farewell testimony to the Senate armed services committee, Admiral Mullen said he had “credible intelligence” that a bombing on September 11 that wounded 77 US and Nato troops and an attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13 were done “with ISI support.”Essentially he was indicting Pakistan’s intelligence services for carrying out a covert war against the US – perhaps in retaliation for the raid on bin Laden’s compound, perhaps out of strategic national interest to put Taliban forces back in power in Afghanistan so that Pakistan would once again have the “strategic depth” its paranoid security policies against India always envisioned.

Questions about the ISI’s role in Pakistan have intensified in recent months. The finger of responsibility in many otherwise inexplicable attacks has often pointed to a shadowy outfit of ISI dubbed “S-Wing”, which is said to be dedicated to promoting the dubious agenda of a narrow group of nationalists who believe only they can protect Pakistan’s territorial integrity.

The time has come for the state department to declare the S-Wing a sponsor of terrorism under the designation of “foreign governmental organisations”. Plans by the Obama administration to blacklist the Haqqani network are toothless and will have no material impact on the group’s military support and intelligence logistics; it is S-Wing that allegedly provides all of this in the first place. It no longer matters whether ISI is wilfully blind, complicit or incompetent in the attacks its S-Wing is carrying out. S-Wing must be stopped.

ISI embodies the scourge of radicalism that has become a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down the political and financial support that sustains an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global antiterrorism efforts at every turn. Measures such as stopping aid to Pakistan, as a bill now moving through Congress aims to do, are not the solution. More precise policies are needed to remove the cancer that ISI and its rogue wings have become on the Pakistani state.

Pakistanis are not America’s enemies. Neither is their incompetent and toothless civilian government – the one Admiral Mullen was asked to help that May morning. The enemy is a state organ that breeds hatred among Pakistan’s Islamist masses and then uses their thirst for jihad against Pakistan’s neighbours and allies to sate its hunger for power. Taking steps to reduce its influence over Pakistan’s state affairs is a critical measure of the world’s willingness to stop the terror masters at their very roots.
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The writer is an American of Pakistani ancestry. In 1997 he negotiated Sudan’s offer of counter-terrorism assistance to the Clinton administration
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Reply Sun 4 Dec, 2011 12:30 pm
The Express Tribune
Haqqani changed BlackBerry handsets thrice to cover tracks: Mansoor Ijaz
By Web Desk
Published: December 3, 2011

Writing for the popular American magazine, Newsweek (over his much preferred Fincancial Times) Mansoor Ijaz has claimed that Husain Haqqani had changed his BlackBerry handset and pin code three times since May to cover up his involvement in the Memogate scandal.

Ijaz claimed that ever since he published his first article, an Op-ed in the Financial Times on October 10, Haqqani had messaged and called Ijaz to ask whether the Pakistani-American businessman knew any other diplomat in Islamabad – referring to the suggestion made by Ijaz in the article with regards to the identity of the memo’s originator, the root source of which being President Asif Ali Zardari.

The interlocutor added that this message was from the third phone that Haqqani had contacted him following delivery of the memo. Ijaz said that this may have been an attempt by Haqqani to “scrub” his blackberry records clean. Ijaz further alleged that Haqqani may have sought help from his friends in the US intelligence community for this.

“Maybe he hoped that changing PINs would erase his damning conversations from my handset,” Ijaz wrote, “Unfortunately for him, they remain preserved—now in a bank vault—in exactly their original form on my original device as he and I exchanged them.”

Ijaz believed that Haqqani not only had the conversations conducted with Ijaz to hide, but from other contacts as well.

He claims that he has long acted as a back channel conduit for Pakistan in the past, mostly with India regarding the Kashmir issue and nuclear proliferation. “Haqqani approached me on May 9”, Ijaz writes in the article, adding “The message’s content and structure were entirely conceived by him and dictated to me in broad form during our initial 16-minute telephone call, with further refinements during the day by telephone, text, and BlackBerry.”

Mansoor Ijaz claims to be the one who transferred a memo from Haqqani meant for Admiral Mike Mullen. The message asked US to pressure Pakistani armed forces against a coup, along with promising to place a new ‘compliant’ national security team, allow boots on the ground and better system to secure nuclear weapons.

Husain Haqqani has denied that he ever drafted or instructed any one to draft a memo on his behalf. Haqqani, though, has since resigned from his post as Pakistani ambassador to the US and a commission has been formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the matter.

Did Haqqani and Zardari plan the memo in anticipation of a history changing event?

In perhaps the most damning claim that Ijaz makes, he suggests that Zardari and Haqqani not only knew of the Osama Bin Laden raid in advance, but had given CIA the green light for it. Haqqani even orchestrated a trip to London to synchronise with the raid to have the element of plausible deniability.

“Zardari and Haqqani both knew the US was going to launch a stealth mission to eliminate bin Laden that would violate Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Ijaz presumes, “They may have even given advance consent after CIA operations on the ground in Pakistan pinpointed the Saudi fugitive’s location.”

The reason that Zardari and Haqqani may have hatched the plan, including the memo, Ijaz ‘analyses’, may have been a way wherein Zardari would have been able to get mass public support behind him to remove the powerful generals in Kayani and Pasha, subvert the army to civilian rule. Meanwhile, the Americans would have gotten bin Laden, the most coveted prize in a long fruitless war.

“They planned to use the Pakistani public’s hue and cry to force the resignations of Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and intelligence chief Gen. Shuja Pasha,” Ijaz argues.

Haqqani denies Ijaz’s latest allegations

In a letter written by Husain Haqqani to Tina Brown, the editor of The Daily Beast website and Newseek magazine, the former ambassador rebutted allegations made in Ijaz’s analysis appearing on Saturday, that he did not discuss any “hare brained scheme against the Pakistani military”.

Haqqani wrote “In the strongest terms possible, I categorically reject as reckless, baseless and false the allegations levied against me by Mr Mansoor Ijaz about prior knowledge of US plans for a raid in Abbottabad in violation of Pakistani sovereignty to eliminate Osama bin Laden as well as his earlier charges about my role in a memo he wrote and sent to the US Chairman Joint Chiefs.”

Pakistan’s former ambassador to US continued, explaining his presence in London on May 1, “I was in Washington DC until the evening of May 1 ET when I boarded a flight for London on way to Dubai and Islamabad.” Haqqani added that upon hearing of the raid, he returned to Washington from Heathrow the following after noon without entering UK.

Haqqani further explained his repeat visit to London as “My visit to London on May 9-10 to meet with senior British officials was to discuss reconciliation in Afghanistan and discuss Pakistan-UK and US-Pakistan relations in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid.”

Haqqani, who is now facing an inquiry set up by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, threatened that unless Newsweek retracted Ijaz’s article, he would initiate legal action against the magazine.
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