Islamabad: Controversial Pakistani-American
businessman Mansoor Ijaz, a key figure in the memo scandal, on Friday claimed that President Asif Ali Zardari had advance
information of the US military raid that killed al Qaeda chief
Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad last year.
Ijaz further claimed that Zardari had telephoned Army
chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the day of the US raid and
asked him not to use F-16 combat jets to target the
helicopters carrying the American troops.
He made the remarks during an interaction with the media
before entering the Pakistan High Commission in London to
depose via a video link before a Supreme Court-appointed
judicial commission that is investigating the memo issue.
He contended that his claims were similar to those made
in a report in `The News` daily.
"I can confirm that the two people that are referred to
in the document are... the (army chief) Gen Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani, who received a call from President Asif Ali Zardari,
essentially asking him to stand the F-16s down that had been
scrambled to take care of the US helicopters in Pakistani
airspace," Ijaz told the reporters.
"As far as I know, it was Gen Kayani and President
Zardari that had that conversation. It`s pretty clear."
Ijaz claimed that Pakistan`s former envoy to the US,
Husain Haqqani, could end the memo issue by speaking up on the
Haqqani was forced to resign after Ijaz claimed last year
that he drafted and delivered the memo to US authorities on
the envoy`s instructions. The memo had sought US help to stave
off a feared coup in Pakistan after the killing of bin Laden.
Haqqani and the government here have dismissed the claims
by Ijaz, who has so far not made public any credible evidence
to back up his allegations.
Ijaz contended that Haqqani "could end this whole fiasco
in one minute by simply standing up and telling the truth
about what it was that he did. He knows what he did, I know
what he did."
The report in The News daily, which quoted an email that
its reporter received from an anonymous sender, said Pakistani
air traffic controllers had detected the entry of four US
helicopters into Pakistani airspace between 12.39 am and 12.47
am on May 2 last year.
One of the helicopters was reportedly a remote-controlled
The American pilots initially told the air traffic
controllers that they were headed to Chaklala airbase in
Rawalpindi but later diverted their course towards Abbottabad.
On being asked the reason for this, they said this was
due to "dense clouds" in their path.
The helicopters then began hovering over Abbottabad and
an American pilot said this was because of a technical
The air traffic controllers became suspicious and alerted
the Pakistan Air Force.
The army`s General Headquarters and Special Service Group
too were alerted, the report said.
Personnel from Pakistan`s Special Operations Task Force
were barred by American personnel from entering the compound
in Abbottabad and a senior Pakistani military officer was told
by someone in the Pentagon that permission had been granted
for the operation, the report said.
Though four F-16s were scrambled from the PAF bases at
Peshawar and Sargodha to intercept the US helicopters, the
report said "one senior person contacts the office of another
senior person to say that he has permitted the operation, thus
no intervention should be made."
Ijaz referred to this media report and claimed the two
senior persons were Kayani and Zardari.