The media made a mess of Memogate

Published: January 8, 2012

Why did we force our serving ambassador to resign when all the evidence pointed at Mansoor Ijaz? PHOTO: AFP / FILE

In the last couple of months our country has been plunged into a self created crisis that our media has dubbed ‘Memogate’. Everyone who is anyone has an opinion on the issue, which has become the most discussed topic in the country.

However, throughout this discussion on the memo issue, majority of the people have either failed to understand what it actually is, or have simply taken the media for its word without putting all the facts in perspective. In this blog, I am not going to give you an opinion on this issue. What I am going to do is present you with all the facts that our media has stopped mentioning, as the issue has evolved over the last few months, and let you make your own conclusions about this whole episode.

Starting out, let us first look at what the memo really is. The text of the memo is freely available on the web now. It is a document that apparently asks for the help of the US authorities in order to contain the military establishment in Pakistan in the aftermath of the May 2 episode where the US Marines violated Pakistan’s airspace in an operation to kill Osama bin Laden. The memo is in the name of Admiral Mike Mullen. It basically talks about how the military establishment might attempt to take over the civilian government, and if the US were to help the government of Pakistan with this, the GoP would be inclined to appoint more US friendly army generals. So that is effectively what the whole memo says. But it is an unsigned document and bears no seal of any Government of Pakistan representative.

The first our media heard of the memo was courtesy of an article written by a person called Mansoor Ijaz in the Financial Times, who boasted about the existence of this memo. The article he wrote bashed the Pakistan Army and ISI, calling them dangerous. This was not the first time Mansoor Ijaz had written against the Pakistan Army, in fact he has a habit of doing so on a regular basis. He has built a reputation for himself as being extremely anti-Pakistan Army and being anti- Pakistan in general.

His article mentioning the memo came out on October 10, 2011 but it did not mention who wrote that article, nor did it mention how this memo was sent to the Admiral. What it did say however was that there was a memo and it had been given to the Admiral.

Predictably, our media simply took his word for it. Then on October 30 in Lahore, PTI chief Imran Khan announced that Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US had written the memo. And finally on November 10, in another article Mansoor Ijaz announced that it was Husain Haqqani who had asked him to write the memo to the Admiral. This time again, our media just took his word for it. He further provided fairly cryptic BlackBerry (BB) Messenger chat records to substantiate his claim. Instead of inquiring further our media just took Mansoor Ijaz at his word and ran the story. They started asking for Husain Haqqani’s head. It was later revealed that our DG ISI had travelled to London to see Mansoor Ijaz who had given him the BB message evidence, which led the Army to ask the Government to bring Mr Haqqani home and request his resignation.

Mr Haqqani duly resigned and the Supreme Court has constituted a commission to investigate this issue.

Now that you know exactly what has happened, here are a few glaring holes in this whole story that have been lost in translation.

1) Before Mansoor Ijaz even mentioned Husain Haqqani’s name as the person who allegedly dictated the memo, how did Imran Khan know? This is a question that has been asked several times but has never been answered. Pakistan’s media only found out on November 10. Our media is pretty good at spreading conspiracies and half truths, and if they did not know, who told Imran Khan?

2) At multiple instances throughout this saga, the story has changed. Initially it was Mansoor Ijaz and Husain Haqqani who wrote the memo together. Then the story shifted to Hussain Haqqani writing it; then it was Hussain Haqqani who dictated it and Mansoor Ijaz wrote it. Finally, we have reached the conclusion that Mansoor Ijaz wrote it.

There was also a lot of discussion about how the memo got to Admiral Mullen. Our anchors pummeled Husain Haqqani with questions like ‘how did you send it?’ Eventually we were told that Mansoor Ijaz requested General James Jones who forwarded the email to the office of Admiral Mullen, whose staff dismissed the email and just filed it away. The question here is very simple: Why did our media consistently take Mansoor Ijaz at his word and attack Husain Haqqani even though Haqqani was our ambassador at the time, and was stating something that turned out to be true ie he did not write the memo and that memo might have been emailed. Why have the same anchors that simply blamed and dragged Husain Haqqani through the mud suddenly gone silent on their own stupidity and bad reporting? And why is Mansoor Ijaz being trusted more than our own ambassador?

3) Now that the case is in court, the courts have finally asked RIM to provide data logs of the alleged communication between Mansoor Ijaz and Husain Haqqani. Why was this not done earlier? Why did our media simply take Mansoor Ijaz’s word for it instead of asking the government and Mr Ijaz to provide certifiable proof that the alleged communication did take place by contacting RIM in the first place? Why was Mr Haqqani made to resign over something he did not write based on evidence that is not certifiable?

4) Who has given the right to our media to pass judgments about people and cases without stating all the facts or even investigating the facts in front of them? Why did our media hold a trail out of court based on absolutely no evidence?

The whole ‘memogate’ issue when inspected closely is probably the dumbest story ever written. It is a story that has so many holes in it that it could give Swiss cheese a run for its money. And yet, this story has been the headline for months now and has even made our institutions take positions against each other. This whole controversy not only shows how childish our media truly is but it also exposes how easy it is to make our institutions fight each other and make a general mockery of Pakistan. A person like Mansoor Ijaz who is not seriously taken in the US was able to run circles around our institutions and media.

This whole episode, instead of being celebrated, should be taken as a humbling experience for our media and institutions. They need serious soul searching after this. But I am certain the chances of that happening are as high as those of elephants flying.



Adnan Khalid Rasool

Currently the Deputy Executive Director Center for Enterprise, Trade and Development, Adnan is also a political analyst working mainly on electoral politics and political campaign management. He tweets at @adnanrasool

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Khan

    Severe disagreement with this blog, let the story unfold further and the writer just might withdraw his opinion for the Memogate to be the dumbest story ever.Recommend

  • Adnan

    i guess gilani did said something right, though at the fag end of his rule, a state within a state has done wonders for pakistan. Quite horrififc when you start connecting the dots – its going to be same murky game played by our spymasters. Lets accept it – its not going to change in near future….with plummeting literacy rate – people will hear the media frenzy and the sensible plain objective truth does not, unfortunately, sell on pakistani news channels…Alas!Recommend

  • ahmed

    Wow! !! What a stupid question u asked that how did imran knows about haqqani? Did not you read ijaz column? Who was the high lvl diplomat in D.C Washington? Is any one have higher lvl then hawqani in D.C? I believe you don’t have to be dumb enough to guess the high lvl diplomat name in D.C.
    FYI Malik told Ik before his speech at minar-e-Pakistan. So plz shut your mouth and do not help traitors. Recommend

  • shahid malik

    Dear Adnan bhai
    please tell me if mansoor ijaz is so anti pakistani why was HH in touch with him?why were they so friendly?why did mansoor ijaz have his private fone nos why did mansoor ijaz had a close association with HH?Recommend

  • Zain

    Excellent and easy. Too bad these things are not read frequently.Recommend

  • Moomal

    agreed to every single word of it! half of the people claiming and blaming don even know exactly what the memo is! And our media is just making money out of a soulless story! Piece of Crap!Recommend

  • xzy

    “This whole episode, instead of being celebrated, should be taken as a humbling experience for our media and institutions.”

    Before it the Lal Masjid standoff between Army and Islamists exposed the credibility of our media where they portrayed religious killers as innocents and even entertained live calls from the ring leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi.
    No lesson was learned then. Why should it now.Recommend

  • Akif Sattar

    Argument is valid, that media making mess of many issues and issue discussed in media gets some extra hype. In this way a conspiracy springs out. Media isn’t a mature entity and not doing its job as it should be done. But Hussain Haqqani was the Pakistan’s ambassador in United States, he should be acted sensibly. In 1995, Benazir Bhutto said that Mansoor Ijaz is not a trust worthy person and no one should trust him and his statements. Why Hussain Haqqani was in contact with a person having such reputation. As Mohtarma Bhutto made this point very clear. The question is, why Haqqani had BlackBerry PIN relationship with Mansoor Ijaz ?
    You are holding such a sensitive office and bearing great responsibility on your shoulders, and at the same time you are in contact with a person, who was not trust worthy in the eyes of your party leadership. Media is doing job, good or bad, Hussain Haqqani was ambassador he should have the sense of responsibility and should have kept National interest on his priority not just as a Pakistani but as an Ambassador of Pakistan. Public is not Judge and public comments on the issues couldn’t become the decision of the court, though public have the right to have an opinion and they have due right to express their opinion.Recommend

  • Akif Sattar

    public have right to have an opinion as they perceive issues. you and any law in the world can’t snatch this right. Recommend

  • Ali

    Actually today I came to know about the whole story of memogate. Thanks.Recommend

  • Mohammed Arif

    It seems the blog is trying to change the thinking of People of Pakistan in favor of Haqqani. Memogate, have a big question mark on Haqqani. Peoples named him American Ambassador with the Pakistani flag. OK forget everything, can someone explain why he is staying in Prime Minister House, just like a kidnapped person. He has his own house in Islamabad where govt can provide him security as much as possible to save him.
    A valid question of someone up is raised that if the Mansoor Ejaz was against Pakistan then why Pakistani Ambassador has a close relationship with him and for what purpose?Recommend

  • Naumann Malik

    This guy mansoor ijaz was the one who exposed Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s “network”, hence forcing him to be arrested by the US puppet Busharraf. Most Pakistanis have very weak memories, & they tend to forget the crimes committed by others.

    I am starting to believe that this paper is also very biased towards Imran Khan, because this paper believes in “status quo” which Imran Khan wants to get rid of.Recommend

  • Vajdaan Shah

    It’s the same like the kerry lugar bill, it had nothing in it but the media went completely crazy over it, even the jazbaati public and our naive opposition! I have read the contents of this so called ‘memo’… how does that make anyone a traitor? I fail to understand.

    The only major difference between the two is that KLB was a hard-copied fact by the US Govt. available to everyone (which fused off when Mrs. Clinton made a brief visit to Pakistan) and the memo is an ultimate ever changing mirch masala story for conspiracy buffs with a personal touch! That is my understanding.

    I’ll rather wait for the verdict by SC on this.Recommend

  • Adnan Rasool

    OK so let me clear out a few things… Please read the first paragraph again… It clearly states that this is not an analysis.. its just a statement of facts and massive holes in the story.. its nothing more than that…. if it were an analysis then it wud make sense for people to bash it as pro this or pro that…

    Please read it again.. and I firmly believe that we should not have media trials.. let the courts decide.. it is their job.. out of decency we the people should keep our minds open and just wait for the decision… Recommend

  • Mohammad Naeem

    ET: plz publish the comment … you may not agree with it but its one point of view and can save some from the emotional harm the memo doing upon.. may be u agree on prev. comment?!Recommend

  • meena gabeena

    Very well written… it has all the details very well defined… the writer has not given his opinion anywhere just asked questions…


  • Tahir

    Your arguments could not have been more hollow! Why is it so that Express Tribune journalists are trying to downplay the memo issue? A coincidence! Is someone intentionally trying to save Haqqani and/ or his masters?
    If memo is a trash issue, why has Mr Haqqani not sued anyone as yet? You are saying that Haqqani was asked to resign-your PM said a couple of days ago in resposne to a question that Mr Haqqani resigned before he was asked to do so! I think you better put your record straight first!

    Further, you say,”This whole controversy not only shows how childish our media truly is but it also exposes how easy it is to make our institutions fight each other and make a general mockery of Pakistan.” Does it imply Express Tribune is the only mature media tentacle out there and all other trash!
    Express Tribune has a definite agenda, obviously am not eluding to any conspiracy theory. What I am talking about is “shaping.” Shaping the mindset in Pakistan, particularly of the youth! Recommend

  • ashok sai

    @ Author

    Its so simple that 90% of the Pak media contents pass through the deep state’s filtering lenses, few exceptions are ET and Dawn, after all one does need a rocket science to figure it out.Recommend

  • kuku

    “Why was Mr Haqqani made to resign over something he did not write based on evidence that is not certifiable?”
    Ans: he was made to resign so that fair trial can be conducted.
    “It basically talks about how the military establishment might attempt to take over the civilian government, and if the US were to help the government of Pakistan with this, the GoP would be inclined to appoint more US friendly army generals.”
    Ans: shouldn’t this be considered as a secret deal or a conspiracy against the army and establishment specially when they have always stated that they have no intentions on imposing martial law. in this regard, should this not be considered a national issue?!
    “So that is effectively what the whole memo says. But it is an unsigned document and bears no seal of any Government of Pakistan representative.”
    Ans: what a stupid argument this is! if the GOP is trying to strike a secret deal with the US against the army and future pro-american generals, why would a document containing such a deal carry an official stamp. If that were to be the case, then everyone would know the culprits straight away and there would never have been any need for investigation!Recommend

  • Chengez K

    If only this incompetent government had appointed a career diplomat or not such a controversial person as Pakistan ambassador to U.S all this this madness could have been prevented……

    Another character is Pakistan ambassador in U.K who is unfit to visit his own country but perfectly fit to enjoys the joys of London.

    Time for change has come…..Recommend

  • Akif Sattar

    when he was questioned by the judge, where is your BlackBerry ? he said, I forgot there at my house in Washington. he further asked for pin no. of blackberry, he replied i don’t remember that pin no.
    One who want to conduct fair trail, he do not respond in this way and he cannot be so irresponsible. He came here to face the trial, and forgot evidences there at home… wow !!!Recommend

  • Tahir

    @Akif Sattar:
    You r nt understanding the true issue behind memo issue! It is to prolong the trial and in the process tarnish Armed Forces of Pakistan to maximum possible extent!Recommend

  • Najaf

    There are few points i would like to share,from 1995 to 1997 i use to live in Newyork and during that period i met Mansoor Ijaz many times in some fund raisers and in some meetings with a group of my Pakistani friends and we use to talk about current political situations at that time. One thing he always said was that he is an American and he is looking out for American and Israeli interest. Also through Mansoor we met some American senators by having some small fund raising dinners. In one of the meeting he told us he is working on to bring Pakistan and Israel together from last few months and he now he is leaving to Pakistan to meet Benazir to finalize the secret trip to Israel making a stop at Egypt to change planes. But when he came back he was very upset beacause he said that at very last minute Benazir change her mind and refuse to get on plane from Karachi, so some Americans and Israelis are vey upset that he couldn’t deliver.
    Every time during 90s when ever Benazir or Nawaz Sharif came they have met Mansoor Ijaz, thats how Zardari came in contact with Mansoor and stayed in touch with him. Zardari met Mansoor last time when he was in new york for health reason and Zardari also met Mansoor in Washington in WILLARD HOTEL accompanied by Haqqani for 45 minutes just before meeting Obama. So when i read the article on Oct.10 in financial times it was not very difficult for me and my friends to figure out, since Mansoor is a shady character and considering Mansoor Haqqani and Zardari has history together memogate is a relaity,
    One more thing in the begining why did Mike Mullen denying he never saw the memo and later he said he did after the fact when Leon Panetta defense secetray admitting he has seen the memo too, the question is if according to Mike Mullen that memo had no value then how it end up secetray of defense. .Recommend

  • sana u llah khan

    u r absolutely right mister.our media is immature they only present conspiracy theories they dont mention the real problems and conspiracies that pakistan faces…………Recommend

  • http://- Abid Khan

    @ Najaf
    What you are narrating could be hundred percent correct. For an outsider however, it is next to impossible to discern where the border between facts and Göbleian trick lies. The politicians, to denigrate their opponent or to hide the truth, introduce something that has no relevance to the matter at hand but enough to plant doubts in others’ minds.

    Imran Khan at first attempted to deny that he had met the US Ambassador. When Ambassador Munter told the press that there was “nothing that cannot be discussed” with PTI, Imran had no choice, but to sheepishly confess.

    This is not an attempt to reject what you have said in your comment but to point out difficulties
    faced by the readers for connecting the dots.