Ijaz: more ‘special’ than others?

Mansoor Ijaz made headlines in Pakistan and all over the world not just for his role in the Memogate scandal but also for appearing in a music video where he was seen as a commentator using double entendre during a women’s wrestling match. It seems that Mr Ijaz is a fan of wrestling, be it between wrestlers in a music video or between state institutions. He was instrumental in creating a hype surrounding a memo that was sent to Admiral Mike Mullen allegedly written at the behest of former ambassador Husain Haqqani who, according to Ijaz, had the full backing of President Zardari. The Pakistani military has fallen for Ijaz’s claims hook, line and sinker. In the process, the military has conveniently forgotten that this is the same man who is an avowed enemy of Pakistan’s army and the ISI.

Ijaz was supposed to visit Pakistan this month to provide evidence in the memo issue but so far he has not shown up on one pretext or another. He has cited ‘security concerns’ as the foremost reason for not coming to Pakistan. The US embassy clarified that it would not provide any security to Ijaz and he would travel to Pakistan as a common American citizen as per his own choice. Ironically, the Pakistani state institutions are falling over one another to provide security to an American citizen. Ijaz’s counsel Akram Sheikh has advised his client against travelling to Pakistan and wrote letters to Attorney General of Pakistan Maulvi Anwarul Haq and army chief General Kayani to ensure that the army provides security to his client. Mr Haq said the army may provide security to Ijaz but Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statements seem to have irked Ijaz. Mr Malik was of the view that if Ijaz does not appear before the parliamentary committee investigating the memo issue, “the committee can direct the government to put his [Ijaz’s] name on the exit control list (ECL)”. By asking for special treatment for his client, Akram Sheikh is playing to the gallery and in the process playing politics. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s candid statement in this regard is quite relevant. “It seems as if a viceroy is coming over. Under the constitution and under the system, it is the duty of the Ministry of Interior to provide him [Ijaz] with security,” said Mr Gilani. Why should our country spend billions of rupees on providing security to a man whose credentials are not just dubious but who is trying his level best to destabilise the system in Pakistan? Ijaz is skating on thin ice anyway. Maybe it would not be wrong to say that all this dilly-dallying may just be an excuse on Ijaz’s part in the absence of concrete evidence to prove his absurd allegations. If indeed he had solid evidence, he would not have wasted so much of the court’s and parliament’s time.

To see a non-issue like the memo getting so much attention while all else is put on the backburner is quite tragic. Pakistan is already going through one of the roughest patches in its history. Now there is a likely confrontation between three state institutions — the military, the judiciary and the executive — based on a piece of paper whose origins are not yet known. Turning Pakistan into a laughingstock is something Mansoor Ijaz has already achieved but the real litmus test would be the day he comes here with solid evidence in hand.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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