Zardari feared coup by Army after Osama’s killing

A week after the covert US raid in Pak that killed Osama bin Laden, Prez Asif Ali Zardari sought help from the Obama administration to stop Army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani from staging a coup.

Last Updated: Oct 12, 2011, 13:12 PM IST

Islamabad: A week after the covert US raid
in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, President Asif Ali Zardari sought to reach out to the Obama administration to ask it to stop army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani from staging a coup, a Pakistan-American businessman has said.

In an opinion piece in the Financial Times, US-based
businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote that a senior Pakistani
diplomat telephoned him with an urgent request early on May 9,
exactly a week after the raid against bin Laden in the
garrison town of Abbottabad.

"Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan`s President, needed to
communicate a message to White House national security
officials that would bypass Pakistan`s military and
intelligence channels. The embarrassment of bin Laden being
found on Pakistani soil had humiliated Zardari`s weak civilian government to such an extent that the President feared a military takeover was imminent," Ijaz wrote.

"He needed an American fist on his army chief`s desk to end any misguided notions of a coup and fast," he wrote.

The Pakistani diplomat told Ijaz that the civilian
government`s "preferred channel to receive Zardari`s message
was Admiral Mike Mullen", who was then chairman of the US
Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mullen "was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and could
convey the necessary message with force not only to President
Barack Obama, but also to Gen Kayani", Ijaz wrote.

This was followed by "a flurry of phone calls and emails
over two days" that led to the drafting of a memorandum with a
critical offer from the Pakistani President to the Obama
administration, "The new (US) national security team will
eliminate Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining
relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will
dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan."

Ijaz contended that this memo was delivered to Mullen at
2 pm on May 10.

A meeting between Mullen and Pakistani national security
officials took place the next day at the White House.

"Pakistan`s military and intelligence chiefs, it seems,
neither heeded the warning, nor acted on the admiral`s
advice," Ijaz wrote.

Subsequently, Mullen, in his farewell testimony to a US
Senate committee, said he had "credible intelligence" that a
bombing on September 11 that wounded 77 foreign troops in
Afghanistan and an attack on the US embassy in Kabul on
September 13 were done "with ISI support."

PTI