WASHINGTON, Nov 18: The memo that has stirred a major political crisis in country offers to revamp Pakistan’s security policy to meet US security needs in the Pak-Afghan region and also offers to arrest the Pakistanis found involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
It urged the then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen to convey a “strong, urgent and direct” message to Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and the ISI chief Gen Shuja Pasha to “end their brinkmanship aimed at bringing down the civilian apparatus”.
The memo, put on the websites of The Washington Post and several other US news outlets, tells Admiral Mullen that after the May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad there was a dangerous “devolution of the ground situation in Islamabad where no control appears to be in place”.
The alleged message warns that the military, unhappy with the US raid, could topple the civilian government and if it happens, Pakistan may “become a sanctuary for Osama bin Laden’s legacy and potentially the platform for far more rapid spread of Al Qaeda’s brand of fanaticism and terror”.
A Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claims that the message was from President Asif Ali Zardari and was dictated to him by Pakistan’s envoy to Washington, Husain Haqqani, a week after the Abbottabad raid. He conveyed the message to Admiral Mullen through an intermediary. The admiral has confirmed receiving the message. The memo reminds Americans that an opportunity exists for “civilians to gain the upper hand over the army and intelligence directorates due to their complicity in the Osama bin Laden matter”. It offers a six-point plan for how Pakistan’s national security leadership would be altered in favour of US interests and forming a new security team is top on the list.
A new national security team, formed with US help, will hold an independent and accountable inquiry into the Osama bin Laden raid and will implement the policy of either handing over or killing Al Qaeda leftovers and militants from affiliated groups who operate from the Pakistani soil, the memo adds. The team will also give the US miltary “green light” to conduct necessary operations to capture or kill them on Pakistani soil.
The new national security team will also develop an acceptable framework of discipline for Pakistan’s nuclear programme. The team will eliminate Section S of the ISI allegedly charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban and Haqqani network.
The government of Pakistan will cooperate with the Indian government to bring perpetrators of Pakistani origin to account for 2008 Mumbai attacks, whether outside or inside the government, including its intelligence agencies. The memo offered to reshape Pakistan’s national security leadership, cleaning those elements within the military and intelligence agencies that have supported religious radicals and the Taliban, drastically altering Pakistani foreign policy -- and requesting US help to avoid a military coup. “Civilians cannot withstand much more of the hard pressure being delivered from the Army to succumb to wholesale changes,” the memo says.
“If civilians are forced from power, Pakistan becomes a sanctuary for UBL’s [Osama bin Laden’s] legacy and potentially the platform for far more rapid spread of Al Qaeda’s brand of fanaticism and terror. A unique window of opportunity exists for the civilians to gain the upper hand over army and intelligence directorates due to their complicity in the UBL matter.”
The memo reminds the US administration that their “political/military backing would result in a revamp of the civilian government that, while weak at the top echelon in terms of strategic direction and implementation (even though mandated by domestic political forces), in a wholesale manner replaces the national security adviser and other national security officials with trusted advisers that include ex-military and civilian leaders favourably viewed by Washington, each of whom have long and historical ties to the US military, political and intelligence communities.”