PM diffuses tension caused by the famous memo

President Asif Ali ZardariISLAMABAD: Amidst speculations rife about escalating tension between the civilian and military leadership over the alleged memo sent to Washington by President Asif Ali Zardari to prevent an army coup, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday tried to defuse the tension by holding a crucial meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani at the Presidency.

“Prime Minister Gilani called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani was also present in the meeting,” said a brief statement issued by the president’s office after the troika meeting. It said, “The current security situation in the country was discussed during the meeting. The president also hosted a dinner for them.” However, an official privy to the consultations of the troika meeting said the three leaders focused on one issue – the secret memo being linked to the Presidency, which was allegedly sent through a Pakistani-American business tycoon, Mansoor Ijaz, to Admiral Mike Mullen seeking help against a military coup in the wake of American raid in Abbottabad on May 2 that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

He said, “You can say it was a sort of mediation on part of the prime minister to reduce the tension between the Presidency and the army leadership, as the president has not yet removed Pakistani ambassador in Washington Hussain Haqqani, who is suspected by the army leaders for giving the memo to Ijaz.” He said the president and prime minister assured the army chief that the government would conduct a thorough inquiry into the episode and whosoever was found involved in the memo controversy would not be spared.

In his address to the NA, Gilani said, “On the issue of the memo, Pakistani ambassador in Washington has been asked to come to Islamabad and explain his position.” The official said Gilani also informed the president and army chief about the part of his speech. Another official said that he did not know what exactly happened in the troika meeting, but as for ambassador Haqqani, “it seems his game is over”.

“The president seems to be left with no other option but to remove his closest aide to avoid escalation of tension with the army leadership,” he said. Late on Wednesday, Geo News reported that Haqqani sent a letter to President Zardari stating that if his resignation would help solve the crisis, he was ready to resign. The Presidency has confirmed receiving Haqqani’s letter. – PT