Both Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Director General Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, in their first official and public statements on the memo scandal on Thursday, dropped a bombshell by acknowledging the document and expressing satisfaction with the evidence provided by American businessman Mansoor Ijaz.
In separate replies filed with the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions related to the matter, they called for a thorough investigation about the memorandum, which they blamed on former ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, saying the issue had an impact on national security.
Their replies were submitted to the court’s registrar by Attorney General Anwarul Haq. “There may be a need to fully examine the facts and circumstances leading to conception and issuance of the memo,” Gen Kayani said and underscored that the episode “has an impact on national security and… attempts to lower the morale of Pakistan Army”.
Gen Pasha demanded a detailed investigation, saying “access to unadulterated truth and justice is a right of the people of Pakistan, the real sovereign masters of this country”.
The ISI chief also asked the court to summon Mr Ijaz, who had kick-started the controversy through an article in the Financial Times on Oct 10; and getting the computers, cell phones and Black Berry devices of Mr Haqqani and Mr Ijaz for which he offered to “render necessary assistance to its (SC) appointed commission”.
Even as Mr Ijaz has publicly offered to appear before the court in the case and has sent in his reply, Gen Pasha twice refers to his (Ijaz’s) willingness to personally present evidence before the apex court.
The other important common feature of both replies is that they confirm that Mr Haqqani had been summoned to the country on their insistence following which the premier asked him to resign.
“It was, therefore, important that complete details be established as early as possible. I strongly recommended to the prime minister that our ambassador in the United States, who was best suited and informed on the matter, be called to brief the country’s leadership,” Gen Kayani said and went on to narrate his subsequent meetings with President Asif Zardari and PM Gilani on the issue, including the last in the series in which Mr Haqqani was heard and asked to quit.
Gen Pasha, narrating his meeting with President Zardari on Nov 18, said he recommended to the president that “the issue pertained to national security and should not be taken lightly. I suggested to the president that it will be in the fitness of things to ask our ambassador in Washington to verify or contradict the matter.”
The army chief also gave a brief account of a briefing he received on the issue from Gen Pasha on Oct 24 after the spy chief had met Mr Ijaz in London.
“He (Gen Pasha) opined that the evidence shown to him by Mr Mansoor Ijaz was enough to establish that Mr Mansoor Ijaz remained in touch with Mr Hussain Haqqani from 9 May, 2011, onwards and exchanged numerous text messages and telephone calls. As per DG ISI’s assessment, the sequence and contents of text messages and telephone calls created a reasonable doubt regarding Mr Hussain Haqqani’s association with the memo.”
The ISI chief gives an insight into how he got in touch with Mr Ijaz through an unnamed ‘source’ and that the meeting was set up in London on Oct 22 following the publication of the businessman’s article in Financial Times.
In addition to the details about his meeting with Mr Ijaz, in which the latter explained the context of the issue and shared related information, Gen Pasha specially refers to his demand for seeing the devices used for communication to believe his (Ijaz’s) story.
“Having seen these means of communication used, I was satisfied that he had enough corroborative material to prove his version of the incident,” the ISI chief said.