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"Balls-Up in Pakistan"

June 20, 2008 file photo of Husain Haqqani, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States. Haqqani says he has resigned over claims he wrote a memo to Washington asking for its help in reining in his country's powerful military.
AP Photo

"Balls-Up in Pakistan"

Op-Ed, The Huffington Post

December 6, 2011

Author: Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security

 

It's become known as "Memo-gate": a memorandum submitted by a circuitous route to Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The memo was delivered during the second week of May 2011, a few days after the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden. The message in the memo was: rein in the Pakistani military; stop them from staging yet another coup to add to Pakistan's history of military takeovers; and specifically, disband the "S" section of the Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, which maintains and supports the various terrorist groups that are operating in Afghanistan, as a means of assuring Pakistan's influence in that country, especially against Indian encroachments.

At the center of this flap is a self-aggrandizing Pakistani-American businessman named Mansoor Ijaz, who arranged to have the memo delivered to Admiral Mullen through the good offices of former National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones. Mullen is said to have not taken the memo very seriously.

If this was all there was to it, the affair might have been considered a banal point of detail. But this wasn't all: the bumptious Mr. Ijaz, who had written about the matter in an article in the Financial Times on October 10, 2011, claimed that the idea for this initiative came from a person he alluded to as the Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, putatively acting on behalf of Pakistan's civilian president, Asaf Ali Zardari.

Before he became Ambassador in Washington, Haqqani was a professor at Boston University, where he chaired an International Relations seminar, which I attended on several occasions.

The late British public intellectual Malcolm Muggeridge, once stated, "I sometimes feel that the only real Englishmen left are in India" (by which he meant the Indian sub-continent, not just India per se). Ambassador Haqqani meets this description perfectly: handsome, mannerly, well-accented and highly intelligent (in addition he had an image of not being very friendly with the ISI). It is difficult to understand how Haqqani would have become involved in such a roundabout operation (though governments often use parallel channels when they want to keep their fingers away from things that might embarrass them). At any rate, Haqqani denies having written the memo, although Ijaz has published alleged transcripts of cellphone conversations that purportedly were with Haqqani.

In the meantime, Haqqani has been recalled to Pakistan and has been prevented from leaving the country, pending an inquiry.

N.B. The memo isn't a fiction. It exists. It has been published by the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn. To me, the most striking thing about the text, which has both an authentic and an artificial ring, is the Pakistani obsession with and anger toward the Osama bin Laden operation. To an outside observer, it is bizarre and perplexing that, according to the writer(s), Pakistani opinion is that nothing good can be seen in the takedown of this man who caused the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people.

 

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Full text of this publication is available at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-charles-g-cogan/ballsup-in-pakistan_b_1128350.h
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For Academic Citation:

Cogan, Dr. Charles G. "Balls-Up in Pakistan." The Huffington Post, December 6, 2011.

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