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Memogate envoy returns to Pak

Pakistan's ambassador to the US returned home Sunday after being summoned to answer questions about his alleged role in a secret memo scandal that could cost him his job and threatens to engulf the country's president.

world Updated: Nov 21, 2011 01:11 IST

Pakistan's ambassador to the US returned home Sunday after being summoned to answer questions about his alleged role in a secret memo scandal that could cost him his job and threatens to engulf the country's president.

The controversy centers on a memo that was sent in May to Adm. Mike Mullen, the top US military official at the time, asking for his help in reining in Pakistan's powerful military after the covert American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town.

Mansoor Ijaz, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, has claimed that Ambassador Husain Haqqani orchestrated the memo, which has been published in the media and does not include an author's name. The document has shocked many Pakistanis because it offered to replace Pakistan's national security hierarchy with people favorable to Washington in exchange for help.

Haqqani has denied the allegations but has offered his resignation to end the controversy. He is expected to meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and other senior officials during his visit to explain his position on the scandal.

Ijaz has claimed Haqqani told him Zardari approved the secret memo, an explosive allegation that could roil Pakistan's political system if proved true. The president has denied the claim.

Some commentators have called for those involved in the scandal to be tried for treason.

The controversy has exacerbated tensions between Pakistan's shaky civilian government and its powerful army generals. Though Pakistan has a civilian president, the military retains vast political and economic power. It has ruled Pakistan, directly or indirectly, for much of the country's six-decade existence, and has fiercely resisted attempts by civilian leaders to curb its role.

The memo has fueled politically toxic charges that the government is colluding with the US against the interests of the country and its army. Though Washington pumps huge amounts of aid into the country, the US is highly unpopular here.