World media says memo report ‘political’, Ijaz not credible

husain haqqani

NEW YORK: The New York Times described the memo commission as “controversial” while reporting its findings and said that the commission “offered little clarity on either the authorship of the memo or the motivations behind the episode”.

Other international media outlets, too, were sceptical about the commission’s findings and tended to agree with Husain Haqqani and his lawyer Asma Jahangir in describing the commission’s report as political. Most commentators also pointed out that the memo commission had relied on an unreliable witness, Mansoor Ijaz, who was described generally in derogatory terms.

In a report from Islamabad by Declan Walsh, the New York Times said, “The commission’s findings, in what has become known here as the ‘memogate’ scandal, are likely to reignite long-running tensions between Pakistan’s top civilian leaders and army generals that only last January led to rumors of a possible military coup.” But the paper observed that “the inquiry has become one of several controversies involving the Supreme Court this year”.

According to the leading US newspaper, the principal accuser in the matter, Mansoor Ijaz, “failed to produce definitive proof in public to back his claims”. Narrating the commission’s history, it said, “Ijaz refused to come to Pakistan to testify before the commission, citing security threats, instead testifying by videolink from London. Controversy briefly flared after it emerged that he had participated in a music video that featured topless women.”

“Haqqani did not appear before the commission at all. He insisted that, like Ijaz, he should be allowed to testify via videolink from abroad. But the judges refused his request,” the report added. It said that “as the hearings wore on, criticism grew in the Pakistani press, where many commentators said the commission was pursuing an openly partisan political agenda that would have been better dealt with in Parliament”.

The New York Times quoted an editorial from a Pakistani newspaper, which said, “The memo controversy was artificially manufactured and based on dubious evidence – basically one man’s accusations.” According to the US paper, “Others accused the court of taking a side in long-bubbling arguments between the country’s top generals, politicians and elements of the news media.”

The Washington Times in its report said, “The case against Haqqani underscores an ugly habit of Pakistani politicians and journalists to hurl charges of conspiracy or corruption against political opponents. It also is seen by some as an example of the traditional tension between a democratically elected government and Pakistan’s military and intelligence community, often suspected of promoting anti-American terrorists.”

It quoted Haqqani as saying, “The memo is the figment of the imagination of a reckless self-promoter,” adding that in Haqqani’s view “hard-liners” in Pakistan had used “the memogate scandal and anti-American fervour to create an ‘adversarial relationship’ between Pakistan and the United States.”

The Washington Examiner reporter Sara Carter wrote in her report that “Ijaz had little credibility in US military and intelligence circles” and said that the “US considers the document a hoax aimed at poisoning Pakistan’s relationship with America.”The Los Angeles Times report by Alex Rodriguez quoted the commission’s report and Haqqani’s comments but added that “no documented proof was ever produced to support the allegations, which rested mostly on Ijaz accounts”.

The report by Associated Press said, “Many independent observers have also concluded that the probe was politicised.” The Reuters report said, “Critics accuse of Ijaz being an attention seeker who tries to get close to powerful figures, allegations he denies.”

Newsweek columnist David Frum wrote a scathing criticism of the commission’s report titled ‘Pakistan’s Judicial Farce’. According to him, the memo episode was “a hoax, perpetrated by a deeply implausible person, perhaps acting on his own, perhaps not, that has had the effect of besmirching the reputations of Pakistan’s democrats and strengthening the hand of Pakistan’s militarists and Islamists”. – Dailytimes