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Plot thickens, Ijaz says ready to face probe

world Updated: Nov 19, 2011 00:18 IST
Yashwant Raj

So, why should Mansoor Ijaz, a businessman of Pakistani descent, suddenly go public with a plot to seek US help in preventing President Asif Zardari’s overthrow by a military deeply rattled by the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? Why now? Who is behind it?

Ijaz has said he was a part of that plot, which, he alleged, was masterminded by the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, acting on Zardari’s instructions. And that makes him a co-conspirator, hardly the high ground he has sought.

Haqqani refused to speak to HT. Whereas Ijaz in a press statement issued on Friday said, "I welcome the announcement today by Pakistan’s political leaders to hold an inquiry into the range of issues surrounding the Memorandum that was conceived by Amb. Husain." Commenting on prospect of further investigation, Ijaz said: "I am prepared to face Ambassador Haqqani, to debate him, to challenge him on his recollection of the facts and to make absolutely sure that neither he nor his superiors are able to distort a truth that was of their own conception."

However, people familiar with the developments said the ISI might be behind it all to further weaken Zardari’s position, and set up cricketer politician Imran Khan as an alternative. Elections are due in Pakistan in 2013 - both presidential and parliamentary. And no matter how frustrating Zardari became, the military is not likely to overthrow him.

Key to the whole affair is Ijaz, a businessman with ambitions of playing a larger role in international relations. He had once claimed the US had sought his services in settling the Kashmir dispute, which was immediately denied.

He then claimed the Sudanese government had offered information about Bin Laden — who was then in that country — to the US, but the Clinton administration showed no interest. This was again denied by the US.

Now, he is back in limelight because of the the memo.