No Jack hit, this one!

Published January 20, 2012

Mansoor Ijaz may be downgraded from being Senior Jack of all trades, courtesy of some in the Pakistan’s self-righteous media brigade, to being Junior Jack (JJ) now, thanks to the wily video of the super hit number ‘Stupidisco’ dating back to 2004, produced by the Italian JJ, and only now happily doing the rounds on social media. The clipping has got well over 300,000 hits on Youtube, mostly by the faithful Pakistanis, and Pemra has not found it obscene enough to block it.

That said, it is but a storm in the tea cup, as indeed is the entire ‘memogate’ scandal which has been blown out of all proportion by those who are holding Husain Haqqani’s media trial in the name of patriotism. Yes, patriotism, which a certain Johnson arguably termed as the ‘last refuge of a scoundrel’— be it of Ijaz’s American variety or his lapsed countrymen’s desi moorings. But worry not, because there can be much more to the man than meets the eye.

The surfacing of the video really completes the Ijaz saga in a way. It all started with international intrigue and a maverick effort by an American with Pakistani ancestry, who achieved a considerable business clout in the US; Ijaz then sought to translate it into political clout given Washington’s ease with ‘show me the money’ it takes to steer American policy. That’s where the articles appearing in the US press reviling Pakistan Army and the ISI fit in, following Ijaz’s trips to Srinagar and Delhi earlier on.

When those writings and the said Indian backdoor diplomacy trip didn’t quite pull the man into the limelight, bang came the memo scandal to test the who’s who of Pakistan. While India and America did not quite take Ijaz’s bait, Pakistanis did in a somewhat spectacular manner, involving a common citizen’s and a prominent politician’s petition to the highest court in the land, which made the army chief, the spy agency chief, the president and the prime minister parties to the controversy; an ambassador’s head rolled even before he was found guilty, and guilty of what? You may ask that question in a less happening country than Pakistan.

Now Ijaz was getting some attention, albeit from all the wrong quarters from his stated standpoint, in a country to which he says he owes no allegiance; from the army whose mechanisms he so dutifully poses to dislike, and a spy agency which, according to his writings, has been working against American interests, nay, actively sabotaging the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan.

It all adds up when Ijaz claims that he forwarded a memo to the US army chief Mike Mullen, allegedly dictated to him by Ambassador Haqqani to seek help from Washington against any adventure by the khakis to overthrow the elected government in Pakistan. When Mullen admittedly didn’t make much of the memo and it was shown the bin, Ijaz decided to approach the opposite camp, apparently his pet peeve, Pakistan Army. The move worked and created more than fireworks by putting our government in the dock.

Is it some twisted sense of patriotism that now suddenly oscillates between Ijaz’s allegiance to the US and albeit, bizarrely, the Pakistani security state — the latter being his stated nemesis — when, say, America starts chasing a perceived common goal? And pray tell what that common goal might be other than throwing Pakistan into utter chaos?

Ijaz has worn many hats and carried many an ex-file: neural science engineer from MIT, investment banker, financial risk-management expert, TV and newspaper political analyst, interlocutor working at the behest of the Clinton administration on Sudan-bin Laden crisis and a facilitator of a non-starter Kashmiri mujahideen-Delhi dialogue, to the media expert of sorts on nuclear proliferation, the Iraq invasion and finally the Obama administration’s Af-Pak policy. How desperately current the guy has sought to remain all these years, and got no where but for Pakistan, which has now made him the star clown of the home circus, beaming worldwide. And now we also know him as the Junior Jack video commentator.

Can anyone beat this screenplay of a Hollywood thriller? Who says it doesn’t have the glamour and the entertainment value of the soft-porn variety? This is stuff that Hollywood blockbusters are made of, and that keep viewers on tenterhooks until they find out whether the main protagonist lives or dies in the end. Remember… he fears being killed if he came to Pakistan to testify?

But there’s still a formula link missing: a final twist in the drop scene. Could Ijaz in the end turn out to be an undercover ISI agent?

Murtaza Razvi is a member of the staff at Dawn.

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