Ridiculous to link Pak Prez to 'memogate': Khar



Islamabad: Admitting that the 'memogate' scandal has raised questions on the strength of Pakistan's civilian government and the influence wielded by the powerful military, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said it was "ridiculous" to link President Asif Ali Zardari to the controversial note.

"Sadly it does. I cannot deny that, and that's an unfortunate part that something as ludicrous as this could raise more questions.

"It doesn't take much to be able to raise those questions," Khar said in an interview with BBC.

She was responding to a query about the 'memogate' controversy raising questions about the strength of the civilian government and the impression that the military is pulling the levers of power in Pakistan.

Pakistan's envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani, was forced to resign after being linked to a secret memo that was delivered to the American military by controversial Pakistan-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz.

Haqqani has denied that he played any role in drafting the memo.

The memo, made public by Ijaz, sought US help to prevent a military takeover in Pakistan in the wake of the American military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

It also claimed the Pakistan government would carry out a national security revamp by rooting out military and intelligence officials with links to militants.

Asked if President Asif Ali Zardari would survive if he was linked to the scandal, Khar said: "I cannot even answer that question because it is ridiculous...to associate him with this particular memo".

Khar said the Pakistan government would conduct an inquiry "at the highest level" into the controversy to satisfy "all parties, all people, all constituencies who have raised concern about this entire issue".

She added: "We would hope that this is where it should and will stop".

Khar said it was "not yet clear" that Haqqani "had any role to play" in the matter. "He was asked to resign so the inquiry process could be transparent and that is something that should be appreciated."

In response to another question, Khar said Pakistan had not arranged any more meetings between the Haqqani terrorist network and US officials except one meeting that was held earlier this year.

"Pakistan cannot guarantee anything (with regard to the Haqqani network). We have said this very clearly. We can play a positive role but it has to be at the request of the Afghans," she said.

Khar further said she was not worried about the risk of the US administration cutting off aid for Pakistan.

"Let me just say clearly that we over project the dependency syndrome of Pakistan on US assistance. We could do without it.

"If the feeling in the US Congress is that we have done too much for Pakistan, the feeling in the Pakistani parliament is that you've done too less," she contended.

PTI