devastating controversy over the authenticity of a secret memo, alleged to have been delivered from the presidency in Islamabad to former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Mike Mullen soon after the Abbottabad raid, through an American businessman of Pakistani origin, Mansoor Ijaz, seeking US support for sacking the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Army Chiefs, has finally ended after the Admiral confirmed its existence. However, Pakistans Foreign Ministry and senior government officials have been vehemently denying that President Asif Zardari wrote the letter. In the same vein, Pakistani Ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani, denied writing and sending any secret document to the US official through non-diplomatic channels.
Initially, the issue was not given much importance, as if it was not worthy of any comment whatsoever. Therefore, the concerned authorities, both in Islamabad and Washington, assumed that the storm raised by Ijaz was unlikely to cause any serious damage in the absence of concrete evidence. However, he seemed to have resolutely stuck to his stand and, with the passage of time, the media in the US and Pakistan played a significant role in their quest for the truth.
Earlier, several attempts have been made by Pakistans civilian government to bring the ISI under the Interior Ministry, headed by Rahman Malik, and clip the GHQ. But it has repeatedly failed to achieve its major objective to takeover or control the military establishment. For instance, the contentious Kerry-Lugar Bill or document of surrender, drafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry and ranking Republican Richard Lugar, was meant to achieve the same purpose as the controversial memo. It must be noted that the military leadership has successfully thwarted such attempts made by locals and foreigners, resisting any outside trespass in its traditional areas of responsibility and function. It was, therefore, natural that once the cat was out of the bag - concerning the memos text released by Ijaz - the military leadership would not sit idly. Despite adamant denials by Islamabad, it would probe into the memo controversy.
In addition, since Admiral Mullen knew the man in Rawalpindi, who is behind the probe, better than any one in Islamabad (i.e. the civilian setup), he admitted receiving the memorandum. However, he saved his skin, and also of the Obama administration, by stating that he did not take it seriously.
Consequently, the treasonous memo is no longer a secret document; it has revealed the horrendous form of communication assumed to have originated from the highest dignitary of the State. Undoubtedly, it is not a one-man show and all those involved in the conspiracy must be punished in accordance with the law of the land.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has promised to set up an independent inquiry commission to find out whether it is a conspiracy against one or more dignitaries, or an attempt to create differences between highly important State institutions responsible for national security, independence and sovereignty of the country. For this, Haqqani was summoned by Islamabad to explain his role in the unpleasant incident, while DG ISI Ahmad Shuja Pasha met with Masoor Ijaz in London. Indeed, it is an issue that cannot be kept on the back burner like so many other issues being probed by commissions and tribunals, which have failed to produce worthwhile results. One example is the assassination of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.
Since the devastating memo may have far-reaching implications for the country, there is enough reason to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law. According to some constitutional experts, Memogate needs to be fully probed on the lines of Watergate and the guilty must be brought to book under Article 6 of the Constitution, which deals with high treason.
The writer is President of the Pakistan National Forum.