| Presidency denies FT story
ISLAMABAD: The Presidency has strongly denied the contents of an article by Mansoor Ejaz picked up by a section of the media alleging that President Zardari had sent a secret memo to White House though Admiral Mike Mullen.
Spokesperson for the Presidency Farhatullah Babar said in a statement on Saturday that Mansoor Ejaz in his "fantasy article" sought to give the impression as if he was the conduit for the alleged message from President Zardari to Mike Mullen.
"Mansoor Ejaz's allegation is nothing more than a desperate bid by an individual, whom recognition and credibility has eluded, to seek media attention through concocted stories," the spokesperson said.
"Why would the President of Pakistan choose a private person of questionable credentials to carry a letter to US
officials? Since when Mansoor has become a courier of messages of the President of Pakistan?"
He further said, "I recall that in 1995/96 during Mohtarma Bhutto's visit to the US a person who introduced himself as Mansoor Ejaz requested for help to see the prime minister.
When I mentioned his name to the prime minister, she firmly asked me to stay away from him saying that Mansoor was not to be trusted."
Farhatullah Babar said this is not the first time that Mansoor Ejaz has invented an imaginary story to gain attention.
"It is rather surprising that responsible media outlets gave so much attention to Mansoor's allegation without questioning the veracity of his claims," spokesman to the president Farhatullah Babar said.
Why FO denial of memo, and why now
ISLAMABAD: The October 10th issue of the respected publication, Financial Times, carried an article by Pakistan origin US millionaire, Mansoor Ijaz, claiming that he had conveyed an unbelievably sensitive message of President Zardari to Admiral Mike Mullen, meant for President Obama. He claimed that on May 9th, he had been approached for this errand by a top Pakistani diplomat.
He even gave specific details of who the message was delivered to and when. To Admiral Mullen at 1400 hrs on May 10th, to be precise. This alone should have indicated that specific records were being maintained for future usage. The FT leak was more hazardous than a nuclear spill (literally speaking it also spoke of retooling the nuclear equation amongst other things) but for almost three weeks, Islamabad maintained a stony silence. In fact, nobody said a word even after US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton tacitly confirmed it all when she refused to categorically shoot down Mansoor's version of facts.
On Oct 28th however, a full 18 days after the publication of the FT article, the foreign office woke up with some sudden sense of urgency to issue a rather funny sounding denial in a matter, which is hardly a laughing affair. If it were a lie by a controversial personality then the Pakistan government should have immediately challenged it. Mansoor along with FT should have been sued for defamation and both should have been taken to the cleaners for slander. But barring the issuance of a belated and vaguely worded denial, neither the FO nor any other organ of the government has dared to sue either. One wonder's why? Maybe Mansoor Ijaz is telling half lies if not the whole truth, but it is the unfathomable behaviour of Islamabad that ironically is lending greatest of credence to his claims.
It is a unique denial indeed, which does not ever refer to a specific article either by its title or the identity of its author. It's a paradox indeed because on one hand the FO obviously deemed the article so important that it assumed that everybody would instantly know the subject matter of its disdainful denial even though it does not identify it specifically and yet it did not consider it worth responding to for almost three weeks. Then, the FO also does not make any specific reference to any of subsequent newspapers write-ups while only referring them to as "subsequent write-ups" while trashing them as "unwarranted, speculative and unnecessary".
And of course there was this other little niggle in the diplomatic shoe as well: nobody ever directly accused the foreign office of using any third person to convey a toxic message to President Obama, so why this belated FO bristling? In his article, Mansoor had never claimed that he had conveyed the message at the behest of the foreign office but had been categorical in pointing out that he had been dealing with a particular individual who simply happened to be a top diplomat. Without naming anyone in his article, Mansoor has pointed his finger at the top Pakistani diplomat who took 'independent politically motivated initiative', to the absolute ignorance of the ministry of foreign affairs.
Why the earlier inexplicable silence, and why this sudden need to deny? Why is the institution now being forced to do a last minute desperate cleanup (cover up?) job of clearing the debris left behind by the ill fated initiative of the one-man diplomatic corps? Is panic starting to take over Islamabad, which now knows that the people-who-matter know the precise details of this misadventure. Greatest of consternation is also being caused by the absolute silence of Rawalpindi, which was expected by Islamabad to pose certain queries in the wake of the investigations carried out by its super heavyweight. Such a move would have at least afforded Islamabad the opportunity to deny the ill advised move altogether, offer some remedial palliatives and also offer the prized head of the top diplomat if that would have satisfied the garrison. But greatest anxiety is being caused because of the continued silence as it is increasingly convincing the top decision makers in Islamabad that final conclusions may have already been drawn elsewhere, and that could be the only reason why no questions are flowing in its directions.
The breaking of the official code of silence is understandable. A lot has happened during the last three weeks. The super benefactors of our ruling dispensation have apparently decided that the immensely corrupt incumbent ruling regime does not qualify for long term political investment and hence will not be coming to its rescue come crunch time. Damaging investigations have taken place during the past 18 days. Evidences have been combed through. Decisions have been taken. Only modalities and the finer nuances of the final moves need to be fine-tuned. With PML-N retching up the political pressure and Imran Khan stoking the political fires, things may be picking up way faster than the arrogant ruling dispensation had anticipated barely three weeks ago. It is said that one week is a long time in Pakistan's politics. By that calculation, three weeks could prove a future-changing phenomenon.