Bloomberg News

Businessman Who Sparked Pakistan Coup Memo Controversy Testifies

February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The businessman who claimed that Pakistan’s president sought U.S. help to avert a possible coup last year testified before the commission probing his account, which sparked a power struggle between elected and army leaders.

Pakistani-American Mansoor Ijaz, who refused to travel to Pakistan because of security concerns, gave his statement through a video link from Pakistan’s high commission in London.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Dec. 30 ordered a judicial commission to probe allegations by Ijaz that President Asif Ali Zardari’s former envoy to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, sent a memo to senior Pentagon officials seeking help to prevent any military power grab after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

Ijaz today showed the commission’s members evidence to back up his allegations, the Geo television channel reported, including BlackBerry messages exchanged with Haqqani.

Haqqani’s lawyer said he would “object to the method being used” to record Ijaz’s statement. “I want to cross examine him. You can’t do that in a proper way in a videoconference,” Zahid Bukhari told reporters today.

The dispute over the memo triggered the sharpest civil- military confrontation since army rule ended in 2008. Zardari opposed the judicial inquiry, while military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani supported it.

Tensions eased after Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani retracted remarks in which he accused generals of violating the constitution by submitting their statements on Ijaz’s claims directly to the Supreme Court rather than through his government.

Haqqani, who was forced to resign over the memo, and the government deny involvement in its drafting or delivery. Haqqani served as an adviser to Zardari and in the 1990s was a spokesman for Zardari’s late wife, Benazir Bhutto, during her tenure as prime minister.

--Editors: Mark Williams, Subramaniam Sharma

To contact the reporters on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at hanwar2@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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