Coup was imminent, Ijaz tells commission

Published Mar 02, 2012 01:35am

Mansoor Ijaz – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Mansoor Ijaz, the central character in the memo case, revealed on Thursday that he had helped former ambassador Husain Haqqani by delivering the purported secret memorandum to the then US military chief because he had information about the possibility of a military coup in Pakistan.

During the cross-examination before the judicial commission investigating the case, the Pakistani-American businessman said he had been briefed by at least four intelligence networks of different countries after the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2, last year.

He said he had obtained the information about actions and reactions of Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, President Asif Ali Zardari and the military secretary to the president after the incident, details of foreign visits of the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and transcripts of conversation between air traffic control staff and the pilots of the US helicopters which raided Osama’s compound.

Replying to a question by Salahuddin Mengal, counsel for PML-N lawmaker Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Mr Ijaz said the material he had was sufficient for him to believe that a military coup was imminent.

He said the urgency shown by Mr Haqqani had also supported his belief that a military coup was imminent and then he contacted former US national security adviser Gen James Jones for delivering the memorandum to Admiral Mike Mullen.

According to Mr Ijaz, the transcripts which he had obtained from a senior official, whose name he did not want to disclose, contained minute-by-minute details of the conversation between the pilots of the helicopters and the air traffic controllers from the time of their entry into Pakistan, during the operation and till their departure to Afghanistan.

He also claimed to have the transcripts of conversations between the President’s House and the Army House on the operation.

“I cannot disclose my sources even if the commission asks me to do so because it would jeopardise US interests,” he said in reply to a question.

He, however, agreed to provide the transcripts in a sealed envelope to the commission’s secretary in the Pakistani High Commission in London.

Mr Ijaz said he had contacted Mr Haqqani after the May 2 incident and offered his help and the process of drafting the memorandum began when the ambassador agreed to work with him.

He accused Mr Haqqani of not only trying later to persuade him not to appear before the commission but also requesting former officials of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other former US officials to stop him from recording his testimony.

“I also received half a dozen death threats from unknown persons and an anonymous telephone call which I brought into the knowledge of the FBI.”

Advocate Mengal will continue the cross-examination on Friday.

The commission asked Mustafa Ramday, counsel for PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif, to properly prepare his questions because most of them had been answered in Mr Ijaz’s testimony. Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq also objected that Mr Ramday was repeating the statement of Mr Ijaz.

The commission expressed displeasure over the attitude of Mr Haqqani’s counsel who has not submitted any evidence to support his client’s contention.

Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who is heading the three-member commission, said: “Mr Ijaz has given the documents in support of his statement but you have kept all the record close to your chest. So far we are gentle but it doesn’t mean that we are powerless.”

The commission again asked all the parties, including Mr Haqqani, to submit evidence in their support and warned that otherwise it would deal with them differently.

The commission considered options for obtaining the chat data of Mr Haqqani and Mr Ijaz from the Research in Motion (RIM) company (the service provider of BlackBerry), but was informed that when the Scotland Yard had tried to put pressure on the firm after riots in the UK, it had closed down its network in the country instead of accepting the demand.

At one point, while replying to Advocate Ramday’s question as to why Mr Haqqani had chosen him for delivering the memo to Admiral Mullen, Mr Ijaz said: “Because I was the most unlucky guy on earth.” At this, the attorney general was heard whispering to other lawyers: “In fact, he is the most lucky guy.”

At another point, when Mr Ijaz was disclosing sensitive information regarding the May 2 incident and the commission had taken a short break, his counsel Akram Sheikh was heard whispering something to Advocate Mengal who was cross-examining him.

Later, Advocate Mengal told this reporter that Advocate Sheikh was advising him to raise more technical questions.

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