Washington: Mike Mullen, former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has confirmed the existence of a secret memo said to have been sent by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari about a feared military takeover.
Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz alleged in a column in the Financial Times last month that a senior Pakistani diplomat asked for assistance in getting a message from Zardari to Mullen.
Ijaz alleged that Zardari feared a military coup following the US commando raid that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May and brought unprecedented public scrutiny on Pakistani leaders.
The Cable feature of Foreign Policy magazine Thursday reported that Captain John Kirby, who was Mullen’s spokesman until the admiral stepped down earlier this year, told it that Mullen now acknowledges that the Ijaz memo does exist.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani has offered to resign after being linked to the secret memo, CNN reported Thursday. “I serve at the pleasure of the president of Pakistan and the prime minister,” Haqqani reportedly told CNN, adding, “I have communicated my willingness to resign or participate in any inquiry that brings an end to the vilification against the government of Pakistan currently undertaken by some elements in the country.”
Mullen said he did receive it but he never paid any attention to it and took no follow up action. “Mullen had no recollection of the memo and no relationship with Ijaz. After the original article appeared on Foreign Policy’s website, he felt it incumbent upon himself to check his memory. He reached out to others who he believed might have had knowledge of such a memo, and one of them was able to produce a copy of it,” Kirby was quoted as saying, adding, “That said, neither the contents of the memo nor the proof of its existence altered or affected in any way the manner in which Mullen conducted himself in his relationship with (Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani and the Pakistani government. He did not find it at all credible and took no note of it then or later. Therefore, he addressed it with no one.”
In Islamabad, the secret memo reportedly came up for discussion at a meeting between the Pakistani president, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Gen Kayani, a media report said Thursday. The News International said the three met Wednesday at the presidency.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar’s two-line statement said Gilani called on Zardari. It added that Kayani was also present during the meeting, at which the current security situation in the country was discussed.
A day earlier, Kayani met Zardari and reportedly discussed the memo. Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has been summoned to Islamabad for a briefing on the issue, Gilani told the National Assembly. “Whether he is an ambassador or not, he (Haqqani) has to come and explain the issue to the leadership,” Gilani said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan has denied that there were differences between civil and military leaderships. “There is complete harmony, and civil and military leaderships are on the same page on all national issues,” the Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Awan as saying.