Is the ‘memo’ controversy over?


Hussain Haqqani’s removal over his alleged involvement in the conspiratorial ‘memo’, which the author of Financial Times op-ed piece, Mansoor Ijaz, claims to have been masterminded by the now former ambassador, seemingly appears to have swept the treacherous issue under the carpet as the government has not constituted an investigation team and formulating its Terms of Reference (ToRs) to find out as to how and where this plot was conceived and who had given a go-ahead for its execution.
With four petitions having been filed in different courts of the country on Wednesday, one by PML-N President Nawaz Sharif in the Supreme Court, it is understandable that the courts will now take over this issue and the military or civil investigation would probably not take place. If the Supreme Court admits the petition for hearing, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani would certainly be relieved of the pain he may suffer by undertaking this undesirable isometric that would certainly involve President Asif Ali Zardari in the process when the Pandora’s box opens.
And, there is a strong possibility that a judicial commission would be formed to probe the ‘memo’ conspiracy and like other such commissions already investigating the May 2 US raid and the murder of a journalist, this commission would also take months to come up with its findings and meanwhile much water would have passed under the bridge – the dust will also settle with some other event of an equal proportion overshadowing the ‘memo’ controversy.
Not only the government has taken time to wait and see by delaying the formation of an investigation team, it has also not restricted Hussain Haqqani’s movement barring him from travelling abroad. This also indicates how serious the government is in proceeding further. The likely inference is that Hussain Haqqani has been made a scapegoat to avoid a situation that would pit the civil and military leaders against each other.
Another indication of the civil-military equation staying undisturbed is the appointment of Sherry Rehman as ambassador of Pakistan to the United States. While some know-it-all analysts were suggesting that the new ambassador would be a person close to the army, Sherry’s appointment is also a sign of business back to normal as the president and the prime minister did not let their authority erode and replaced Hussain Haqqani with a party loyalist instead of picking a career diplomat or a retired general with the army and the ISI also not rejecting a political appointment in the most important world capital.
As her name had surely been agreed upon by all while considering many others, it unmistakably suggests that the military establishment was not in a mood to impose any decision on the government. Maybe the army and the ISI, which had gathered the evidence to confront Hussain Haqqani, did not consider it going beyond what was required – removal of the ambassador who had throughout been in the midst of controversies one after another mostly related to the army or the ISI ever since his appointment.
Understandably, if this ‘memo’ issue had to see some more heads rolling, the constitution of the investigation team would have been announced immediately after the top four had decided that Hussain Haqqani would no more represent the country in the United States. His is certainly a “consensus removal” for becoming dangerously controversial and also a soft-belly of the government for the opposition’s punching.
But it cannot be concluded that the ‘memo’ controversy has been buried deep in the grave of expediency. It will continue hanging over the Zardari-Gilani dispensation as Damocles’ sword. And, what the Supreme Court decides on the petition of the PML-N president also remains to be seen. However, the mystery would continue to shroud the conspiracy wrapped in the ‘memo’, which had been considered an act of treason against the state, as the details are being kept secret for the people at large, media and analysts to speculate as to what transpired.