Golden words are not meant to be repeated. But for the sake of ‘Financial Times’ columnist Mansoor Ijaz, I must. You’ll soon know the reason why. The headline above is a comment from Nawaz Sharif after he heard Kayani and Pasha rubbish Admiral Mullen and his ilk’s allegation of the ISI/Haqqani nexus.
Sharif came away from the APC disbelieving the duo-generals. His doubts were quickly doused in a conflagration of anti-US hysteria heavily weighed against Washington. Now the London-based FT has blown the lid off the cover with news of a coup that was in the works post Bin Laden. Don’t forget FT’s proclivity to cook up coups in Pakistan. Remember the delectable 20-something Christina Lamb whose story of a coup during Benazir Bhutto’s first term hit the FT headlines? The story was a dud; the newspaper apologised; and a teary Ms Lamb was asked to leave Pakistan.
Enter another coup-master Mansoor Ijaz. Billed by FT as an “American of Pakistani ancestry [who] in 1997 negotiated Sudan’s offer of counter-terrorism assistance to the Clinton administration,” Ijaz thrives on conspiracy theories, a game he’s staked his reputation upon.
Driven by an uncontrollable ego to showcase himself as a kingmaker, his October 10 column in FT ‘Time to take on Pakistan’s jihadist spies’ is radioactive. “A senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request,” begins Ijaz. “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... [he] 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.”
Stop! Let’s brainstorm. Which US-based “senior Pakistani diplomat” was Zardari’s messenger? Haqqanis dwell not only in Waziristan but in Washington too! Sunday last a senior columnist’s article ‘Killing the messengers’ was in defence of our ambassador in Washington: “There is no general like Sahibzada Yaqub Khan to at least record dissent with the nation’s madness... Our self-made and well-read man in Washington, Husain Haqqani, probably comes closest... [he] continues to quietly persuade Americans to be patient with Pakistan and to plead with Pakistanis to understand the global power equation. But at home he is reviled frequently for not joining the ‘Crush America’ ghairat brigade.”
Not only does Ijaz withhold the name but also the locale from where Zardari’s diplomat “in a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days”, crafted a memorandum 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,” writes Mansoor Ijaz with authority, because he was the carrier!
Three things to mull over: First, Mansoor Ijaz must have provided irrefutable proof to the editors at FT. They will have gone over the “phone calls and emails” exchanged between Ijaz and the diplomat to establish the authenticity of the information. Publishing such slanderous material is to invite libel.
Second, if the story is fiction, then the president of Pakistan; the army chief and the ISI chief should sue Financial Times and Mansoor Ijaz for damages. Third, if the account is accurate, Pakistan must identify the senior diplomat who allegedly contacted Mansoor Ijaz and prepared a dossier on behalf of Zardari for the White House and Admiral Mullen with Mansoor Ijaz as the messenger. How did the diplomat gain access to our military’s top secrets to pass them on to the White House and Admiral Mullen? Who gave them to him?
Last, if Ijaz enjoyed the total trust of those that gave him this assignment, he chose to take it to Financial Times. Et tu Brutus?
The writer is a freelance journalist. Email: anjumniaz@