Haqqani meets Zardari; explains stand on secret memo

Pakistani President and PM called Husain Haqqani to Islamabad to explain his position on the `memogate` controversy.

Last Updated: Nov 21, 2011, 00:08 AM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Ambassador to the US
Husain Haqqani on Sunday held an informal meeting with President
Asif Ali Zardari to explain his position on a controversial
secret memorandum that was purportedly sent by the civilian
government to the former US military chief.

Haqqani met Zardari hours after he flew into Islamabad
on a flight via Qatar shortly after 2 am.

The envoy told Zardari he was ready to face any inquiry
into the controversial memo and that he was prepared to
cooperate with any authority asked to probe the issue, TV news
channels quoted their sources as saying.

The Ambassador further said he was ready to hand over his
Blackberry and its records to authorities, the news channels
reported. There was no official word from the presidency on
the meeting.

Haqqani is expected to meet Zardari again tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, Haqqani left the airport without
speaking to the waiting media and reportedly went straight to
the presidency.

Haqqani has been at the centre of what the media is
referring to as the `Memogate` controversy since Pakistani-
American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed last month that a
secret memo delivered to then US military chief Admiral Mike
Mullen in May had sought American assistance to prevent a
possible military takeover.

Ijaz has claimed that he drafted the memo on the
instructions of Haqqani.

The envoy, who offered to resign to help defuse the
controversy, has said he played no role in drafting or
delivering the memo to Mullen. Before leaving Washington, Haqqani told the Dawn newspaper that he would appear before a Pakistani
parliamentary committee which would be headed by a religious
scholar who was also a lawmaker.

He said the panel would hold a full inquiry into the
issue and try to "sift facts from fiction".

Haqqani said he would urge the committee to investigate
why "the statement of a doubtful individual was blown out of
proportion".

He said the enemies of democracy were behind the scandal
and wanted to "use it as an excuse to undo democracy".

President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
called Haqqani to Islamabad to explain his position on the
controversy following a meeting of the top leadership of the
ruling Pakistan People`s Party last week.

Reports have said that the powerful military is
pressuring the weak civilian government to remove Haqqani from
his post.

Haqqani, a close aide of Zardari, has served as a vital
link between the Pakistan government and the Obama
administration and played a key role in resolving several
recent crises in bilateral relations, including the stand-off
over CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who was arrested after he
shot and killed two men in Lahore earlier this year.

However, Haqqani has always had an uneasy relationship
with the military for his pro-democracy stance.

Before leaving Washington, Haqqani met US Special Envoy
for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman.

After the 35-minute meeting, the US State Department
issued a statement that said Grossman had never seen the memo
before it was made public.

During the meeting, Grossman "referenced the statement of
Admiral Mike Mullen`s spokesperson that Admiral Mullen did
receive a letter from Mansoor Ijaz but that "he did not find
it at all credible and took no note of it then or later".

Therefore, he addressed it with no one," the statement
said.

The State Department stressed the need to continue the
democratic process in Pakistan.

"We clearly support the democratically elected government
of Pakistan, as well as its constitutional processes," State
Department spokesman Mark Toner told a briefing.

At the Pentagon, spokesman George Little told reporters
that Defence Secretary Leon Panetta was aware of the issues
related to the memo.

However, he said "no review" had been ordered when asked
why the serious allegations in the memo were ignored by
Mullen`s office.

PTI

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