Saturday, November 26, 2011

An eventfull week -- Questions abound -- Pak-US relations, MemoGate, IjazGate ....

Over a week back the MemoGate scandal broke making headlines around the world. Ijaz Mansoor accussed Pakistans then Ambassador to the United States Dr. Husain Haqqani as the princple architect of the memo.The Ambassador denied Ijaz's claims, was summond by President Asif Zardari to present a briefing on the Memo to Islamabad, and after a series of high level meetings Haqqani requests Prime Minister Gilani to accept his resignation, or so how it was presented to the public.

After much deliberation by the PPP-P leadership former federal minister Sherry Rehman was appointed as Ambassador to succeed Husain Haqqani as Pakistans envoy to Washignton D.C. The new Ambassador having barely settled in, let alone hasm't yet departed for Washington and the countries faced with a situation on the Afganistan-Pakistan border. Last night (U.S. PST) NATO allegedly launches an unprovoked attack on a Pakistani border check post killing 28 Pakistan Army soldiers include civilians.

In the immediate aftermath of NATOs attack Islamabad shut down NATO supply routes through Pakistan and sent notice to the United States to vacate Shamsi Air Base , which is allegedly the launch pad for NATOs unmanned drones in the province of Balochistan within 15 days.

Based on sketchy media reports and tweets found under #Pakistan and #NATOAttack hashtags it would appear like the unprovoced attack was a result of mis-communication between NATO and Pakistani forces. Which is believable. Not related but there was a similar incident of friendly fire between U.S. forces a couples weeks back resulting in lose of life.

Additionally earlier today their was a tweet shared that reported senior White House officials have apologized to Pakistan, and vowes to conduct a detailed probe into the attack. Which was confirmed by an ABC News report on the Obama Administrations formal apology to Pakistan. On the face of things the situation appears like it's under control, however the sentiment on the ground hasn't changed, sabre rattling and anti-America stance is abound. To make matters worst Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan addressing a scheduled rally today adds further fuel to the popular sentiment.

With the Obama adminstrations appology the onus now rests on the Gilani (civilian) government to issue an equivalent and measured statement, as General Kiyani has already issued a statement ordering an "effective response" to the attack, whatever that's suppose to mean.

So now what? Appears like its a closed and shut case. Well not entirely. As there is still the issue of The Memo and Mansoor Ijaz. On the face of things it would appear to be seperate and isolated issue. However the timing of events is suspect, and a clear give away of a deeper plot in the works.

Having said that who is it thats behind the Memo? Why did Mansoor Ijaz decide to break his silence now? Is Ijaz acting independently, or does he have support? If he infact has support then who could it be, are they internal or external to Pakistan? It would seem whoever was behind the Memo and the suspected broader plan precieved Ambassador Haqqani as a threat, and his removal was / is critical to the future success of the Plan.

The events of the past several days have done nothing other than further weaken the civialian apparatus in Islamabad with the resignation of it's most imporant spokesperson In Washington at the behest of the military establishment. Though I don't doubt the incoming Ambassador-select Sherry Rehman's abilities,  I do wonder if her boots are able to measure up to Husain Haqqani's footprints. Rehman is stepping into a hot seat, all eyes will be upon her to quell misunderstandings, as she chalks out a renewed US-Pak partnership.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Change in the air ...finding sense amidst COAS - MemoGate

Once again Pakistan is a at cross-road, Imran Khan is apparently gaining steam which is evident from the recent PTI rally in Lahore, US-Pakistan relationship are jittery to say the least, Civilian-Military nexus is in flux and more so now as a result of the recent MemoGate scandal.

Rumors are abound of a potential military coup d'etat against the current PPP government. While President Asif Zardari appears to be in a self preservation mode to appease the army at any cost, even if it means scapegoating his trusted advisers such as the U.S. Ambassador Husain Haqqani who has been summoned to Islamabad to brief the President on the MemoGate scandal.  Of ocourse this would not be Pakistan if you  did not have rumors to support rumors where Ambassador Haqqani has been accused of being the principal architect of "The Memo" that was delivered to Admiral Mike Mullen via a well connected American businessman / lobbyist of Pakistani decent Mansoor Ijaz, apparently also a member of the Ahmadi* sect of Islam.

GHQ (Pakistan Armed Forces Head Quarters) under the leadership of General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani has been advising President Asif Zardari to replace Ambassador Husain Haqqani, who apparently has a mixed reputation amongst military and intelligence top brass. A short list of proposed replacements for Haqqani has been presented, with the first being the current Foreign Minister Salman Bashir and second (though I am unsure on how strong the source is) Dr Maleeha Lodhi who has already served twice as the Pakistani Ambassador to Washington DC.

There are several loose ends, referring back to the MemoGate scandal which bring up questions such as: If the civilian apparatus was in fact involved in drafting the memo to Admiral Mike Mullen, then why have a third party such as Mansoor Ijaz deliver it, especially given his"phishy" history? Also with close ties between Pakistan's civilian leadership and the Obama Administration why couldn't the such a memo be sent through regular diplomatic channels, unless there was a threat of it being intercepted by military intelligence gate keepers? Then on the accusation that Ambassador Husain Haqqani as the architect of the memo -- if that were the case then why, given his close relationships in Washington, not to mention well respected diplomat would he not deliver the memo through more secure channels -- perhaps orally vs written?

Personally I don't buy into the whole notion that Ambassador Haqqani had a role in drafting memo. After reading the memo, the language style is not that of the Ambassadors style, not to mention too sloppy for him. The responsible party for this memo mess rest in the able hands of the one and only, though some may argue "only" as an understatement as Mansoor Ijaz couldn't have acted alone. If that were they case then who or what else was behind the Memo?

*According to Ordinance XX of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Ahmadi community are barred from being referred to as Muslim