| 'Memo Mansoor' strikes back, with live ammo
NEW YORK: The US businessman at the centre of the Mike Mullen Memo controversy, Mansoor Ijaz, on Friday released sensational messages and correspondence exchanged with a Pakistani diplomat, saying that these are only "some of the facts" about the memo.
The transcripts he released after the confused denial of the memo by Admiral Mullen's former spokesman include SMS messages, dates and time of telephone calls and emails exchanged with a senior Pakistani diplomat before and after the memo was delivered to Admiral Mike Mullen.
In an exhaustive 3,300-word rejoinder, issued after the former spokesman of Adm Mike Mullen tried to deny the existence of the memo in the Foreign Policy blog, Mansoor Ijaz said: "Without compromising names or the highly sensitive content of the memorandum, I am providing a sampling of the truth in my possession to set the record straight. I am prepared to present this evidence for forensic investigation."
Ijaz in his statement said his purpose was "to give sufficient evidence to insure that there can be no doubt a request was made to me by a senior Pakistan government diplomat, not that I asked to be involved in this matter. Neither did I offer to do anything until I asked senior current and former US officials whether there was receptivity to what the Pakistani official had authorized me to discuss with them."
Mansoor said there can be no doubt a memorandum was drafted and transmitted to Admiral Mullen with the approval of the highest political level in Pakistan. "That the admiral received it with certainty from a source whom he trusted and who also trusted me. It was a source the admiral would not, and according to e-mail traffic in my possession, did not ignore."
He also stated there can be no doubt proof exists of the admiral acknowledging receipt of the memorandum. "Whether he chose to do anything with the memorandum or not, I cannot know and do not care - my responsibility was to see that the memo got into his hands safely." The visible actions of both governments in the aftermath of that memorandum being delivered demonstrate that if it was not a source of content for those actions, the actions taken by both the US and Pakistan even as recently as the past few weeks track closely with the offers made by Pakistan on May 10.
The US businessman also revealed that "a persistent effort had been made by an array of Pakistanis, particularly by the diplomat who fears his name will be divulged to persuade, pressure, intimidate and even threaten me to not make further disclosures about the events of May 9th and 10th. The solicitation of a denial from Admiral Mullen was their last gasp hope in trying to shut me up. Obviously it did not work."
Releasing the electronic data (full text available on The News website), Mansoor Ijaz said he had withheld, pending an official investigation by certain organs of Pakistan's government, names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of those involved. "This data will only be provided to the official bodies who request them from me and who demonstrate their independence and concern for learning the truth from these facts. The memorandum will remain out of public view unless the official bodies of Pakistan's government deem it appropriate to release it."
(Mansoor's rejoinder carries a large number of BBms' emails etc which cannot be reproduced here due to space constraints but can be read on The News website)
Mansoor revealed that afterwards a meeting took place during the afternoon of May 11 in which senior Pakistani officials and senior US officials were present. The purpose of the back-channel memorandum as conceived by the Pakistani official was to give the US side sufficient incentive in the form of the memo's high-quality deliverables that it would appear innocuous to Pakistani intelligence and military officials accompanying certain political officers of the government to the meeting if and when Admiral Mullen delivered a strong rebuke against any military intervention that might displace the civilian government in the days following the raid.
"The Pakistani official called me after the meeting had taken place and was almost gleeful that Admiral Mullen had agreed to take certain actions in line with what was asked of him and that it would all remain within the normal course of inter-agency dealings in his role as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. We can no longer exclude the possibility that the civilian apparatus needed to create the specter of a coup - when none actually existed - to divert attention away from... well, let's leave that for another day. We continue with the data and stick to the facts."
Mansoor also released a set of messages after the Memo story was published in the Financial Times. These exchanges demonstrated the increasing tension, hostility, anxiety and frustration of the Pakistani official in not being able to control a monster of his own making, he stated.
"It also showed the desperation of himself and his bosses to head off a coming storm in accounting for their actions. A review of the partial BBM messenger transcript between myself and the Pakistani official which began on the day after Pakistan's Foreign Office issued its version of the Mullen denial sets the record straight with crystal clarity".
Referring to the so-called denial by Admiral Mullen's former spokesman, Mansoor Ijaz said he had never claimed that he himself delivered anything to Adm Mullen. "What I wrote was - the memo was delivered to Adm Mullen at 1400 hrs on May 10.
"Captain John Kirby told FP, 'Adm. Mullen does not know Mr. Ijaz and has no recollection of receiving any correspondence from him.' It is true that I do not know Admiral Mullen and have never met him. But the person I asked to take the memorandum to him - that person knew him about as well as anyone can. And that person knows me pretty well too."
Captain Kirby told FP: "I cannot say definitively that correspondence did not come from him - the admiral received many missives [messages] as chairman from many people every day, some official, some not. But he does not recall one from this individual..."
Mansoor Ijaz says: "It surely did not come directly from me, and we have proof that Admiral Mullen received the memorandum and acknowledged it to the person who delivered it to him.
"The entire Rogin article was written with a slant to discredit me personally because whoever put him up to writing the article could not avoid the facts - facts that the hidden hand behind Rogin's article knew full well because he, along with myself, are the only two people who know precisely what we did.
"I end where I started. Facts are stubborn things. If the Pakistani government's vicious cabal stops telling lies about me, I might just stop telling the truth - the whole truth - about it. The whole truth, once it comes out, will not be easy for anyone to swallow. I remain as adamant as ever that the truth be told fairly, justly and without revisionists and hypocrites doing all they can to avoid the judgment of history," Mansoor Ijaz says.
When contacted for official reaction to this latest development, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua told The News that she was unaware of any development regarding issuance of any evidence or e-mail correspondence by Mansoor Ijaz regarding transmission of memorandum and thus said she will not comment on it. She added however that the Foreign Office has the same stance on this issue that it had taken initially.
Presidential aide Senator Faisal Raza Abidi also did not take any call initially but later his PS said that Mr. Abidi will return the call after one and an half hour around 10:30 PM PST. That call never came. Spokesman of the Presidency Farahatullah Babar too did not attend the phone.
Senate Committee to look into memo issue: Khurshid
ISLAMABAD: As an extensive debate on the memo allegedly sent by President Zardari to Admiral Mike Mullen continues without any meaningful consequence, Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmad of Jamaat-e-Islami has indicated that he would raise the issue in the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to ascertain the truth or otherwise of this highly controversial secret note.
The interesting fact, however, is that so far no one here has bothered to check or verify the evidence as claimed to have been possessed by Mansoor Ijaz, the man who had authored the write-up that appeared in the Financial Times last month and first mentioned the Zardari memo, which was meant for the US president and talked about top level military changes in Pakistan.
Professor Khurshid said he had raised the issue in the Senate but now would take up the matter in the upper house's committee on foreign affairs. To a question, he said he would be keen to place before the committee any evidence if available but said that it is perhaps not possible for the committee to summon Mansoor Ijaz for the reason that Ijaz is not a Pakistan national but a US citizen.
It is said that Mansoor Ijaz is willing to share the evidence he possesses about the alleged memo if asked by the Supreme Court, the parliament or by any inquiry commission.
Although the Presidency spokesman as well as the Foreign Office spokesperson in their belated rejoinders have categorically denied the authenticity of the memo as reflected in Mansoor Ijaz's FT article, no formal denial was issued to the British newspaper.
Admiral Mike Mullen has also been quiet but his former spokesman issued a confusing statement to a blog which denied something which had not even been claimed in the FT report yet it kept the possibility of the memo having reached Adm Mullen open.
While the government has simply ignored the issue and has even questioned the credibility of Mansoor Ijaz, the opposition voices representing the PML-N, Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf are seeking a probe on these disclosures.
A blogger on the well known website Foreign Policy on Tuesday had issued a statement by a former spokesman of retired Admiral Mike Mullen, who denied having known Mansoor Ijaz or receiving any memo from him in May this year.
Although the matter is over for those in the government, many believe that unless formally concluded through a judicial, parliamentary or administrative scrutiny, the matter is not expected to die down so easily because of the explosive contents of the alleged memo.
The actual text of the memo is also not yet known. It is said that only a small portion of the alleged memo has become public while the remaining, still undisclosed, portion of the alleged memo is very dangerous and even talks about Pakistan's nuclear programme. However, no authority has moved as yet to ascertain the authenticity of the memo and evaluate the evidence as claimed to have been possessed by Mansoor Ijaz.