US media critical of memo report, Mansoor Ijaz
NEW YORK: The New York Times described the Memo Commission as “controversial” while reporting its findings and said that the commission “offered little clarity on either the authorship of the memo or the motivations behind the episode.”
Other sections of the US media were also skeptical about the commission’s findings and quoted Husain Haqqani describing these as “political.” Questions were also raised about the reliability of the main witness in the case, Mansoor Ijaz, and whether Haqqani was treated fairly during the proceedings.
In a report from Islamabad by Declan Walsh, the New York Times said: “The commission’s findings, in what has become known here as the ‘Memogate’ scandal, are likely to reignite long-running tensions between Pakistan’s top civilian leaders and army generals that only last January led to rumours of a possible military coup.” But, the paper observed, “the inquiry has become one of several controversies involving the Supreme Court this year.”
According to the leading US newspaper, the principal accuser in the matter, Mansoor Ijaz, “failed to produce definitive proof in public to back his claims.” Narrating the commission’s history, it said, “Mr Ijaz refused to come to Pakistan to testify before the commission, citing security threats, instead testifying by video link from London. Controversy briefly flared after it emerged that he had participated in a music video that featured topless women.”
“Mr Haqqani did not appear before the commission at all. He insisted that like Mr Ijaz, he should be allowed to testify via video link from abroad. But the judges refused his request,” the report said. “As the hearings were on, criticism grew in the Pakistani press, where many commentators said the commission was pursuing an openly partisan political agenda that would have been better dealt with in Parliament.”
The New York Times quoted an editorial from a Pakistani newspaper, which said: “The memo controversy was artificially manufactured and based on dubious evidence — basically one man’s accusations. Others accused the court of taking a side in long-bubbling arguments between the country’s top generals, politicians and elements of the news media.”
The Washington Times in its report said: “The case against Mr Haqqani underscores an ugly habit of Pakistani politicians and journalists to hurl charges of conspiracy or corruption against political opponents. It also is seen by some as an example of the traditional tension between a democratically elected government and Pakistan’s military and intelligence community, often suspected of promoting anti-American terrorists.”
It quoted Haqqani as saying, “The memo is the figment of the imagination of a reckless self-promoter” adding that in Haqqani’s view “hard-liners” in Pakistan had used “the Memogate scandal and anti-American fervour to create an ‘adversarial relationship’ between Pakistan and the United States.”
About Mansoor Ijaz, the Washington Times columnist Jim Morrison wrote, “Mr Ijaz, once a respected US cable news commentator on South Asian issues, was most recently seen in a YouTube video as a ringside announcer at a topless female mud-wrestling event,” suggesting that his testimony was unreliable.
The Washington Examiner reporter Sara Carter wrote in her report that “Ijaz had little credibility in US military and intelligence circles” and said that the “US considers the document a hoax aimed at poisoning Pakistan’s relationship with America.” The Los Angeles Times report by Alex Rodriguez quoted the commission’s report and Haqqani’s comments but added that in its reporter’s view, “No documented proof was ever produced to support the allegations, which rested mostly on Ijaz accounts.” The report by Associated Press said: “Many independent observers have also concluded that the probe was politicised.”
The Reuters report said: “Critics accuse of Ijaz being an attention seeker who tries to get close to powerful figures, allegations he denies.”
Newsweek columnist David Frum wrote a scathing criticism of the commission’s report titled ‘Pakistan’s Judicial Farce.’ According to him, the memo episode was “a hoax, perpetrated by a deeply implausible person, perhaps acting on his own, perhaps not, that has had the effect of besmirching the reputations of Pakistan’s democrats and strengthening the hand of Pakistan’s militarists and Islamists.”
According to Frum, “The hoax contained so many manifest fabrications and falsehoods that I assumed that no court could accept it, not even a Pakistani court