Will Ahmed Quraishi be the next memogate victim?

Dec 9th, 2011 | By | Category: Conspiracy Theories, The Nation, The News

The latest version of the media’s ‘memogate’ parlour game has turned from who knew what and when about the infamous memo to who knew what and when about the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. Mansoor Ijaz invented this new version of the game by first alleging that Husain Haqqani and Asif Zardari secretly knew about the raid before it happened. He provides no evidence, of course, and his claim flies in the face of all logic and reason, but since when have logic and reason been required rules for our media parlour games? In fact, already the field has expanded to speculation that UK High Commissioner Wajid Hasan also knows something he’s not telling, including a front page article in The News that asks, “Will Wajid Hasan be the next memogate victim?” But why limit the field to only PPP officials? Surely there are plenty of people who can be brought to dock on the same quality of  speculation and innuendo.

Let’s begin with Ahmed Quraishi. On 6th May, Ahmed Quraishi was the guest on Voice of Russia‘s radio programme. During the interview he said that,

“At some level, maybe not the entire government, but at some level Pakistan definitely was on board with the United States before the operation was carried out and some of the logistics that were involved in that operation do indicate that it would not have been possible to carry out the operation in its entirety without a major, a good level of cooperation on the Pakistani side”.

Quraishi goes on to say that the Abbottabad operation “of course also vindicates the US intelligence community [and] the US military in Afghanistan”. Interesting.

Then on 10th May, Ahmed Quraishi further wrote that the operation that killed Osama bin Laden was a joint Pakistan-US victory. Here is how Ahmed Quraishi described the scene:

“Crucial and critical intelligence from Pakistan and the United States succeeding in pinpointing the location of al-Qaeda terror chief. ISI gave decisive leads on the trusted courier of bin Laden. The CIA and the US military put together a plan to take him out. By virtue of the more advanced American surveillance technology, Washington filled in the gaps and sealed bin Laden’s fate.”

Ahmed Quraishi then goes on to criticise the military for not explaining their larger role in the operation.

“Instead of ‘admitting’ failure, it was better for the army chief to object to CIA hijacking a joint victory and turning it into a one-sided victory and a one-sided attack on our military and ISI. And we could have certainly done without our foreign secretary quoting US national security adviser to confirm to our media that we did scramble some fighter jets in the end. The weak media management capabilities of our civilian and military bureaucracies are breathtaking.”

Neither is Ahmed Quraishi the only one who was making such statements. Let us take a moment to revisit the front page of The Nation on 3rd May, just after the raid:

The Nation front page of 3rd May 2011

The Nation front page of 3rd May 2011

The front page article by Sikander Shaheen quotes “top level official sources” saying that “200 Pakistan Army men provided ground support” for the operation while “four helicopters of the Pakistan Army hovered over the fortress-like hideout of al-Qaeda chief at Thanda Choh”. Shaheen goes on to quote “military sources” that “US dignitaries thanked the military leadership of Pakistan on intelligence sharing and the successful operation”.

It seems that perhaps not only Ahmed Quraishi but Sikander Shaheen, military and intelligence leadership, 200 jawans and four helicopter pilots should be under suspicion.

Let us be clear: We have not seen any evidence that Ahmed Quraishi, Sikander Shaheen, Wajid Hasan, Husain Haqqani, Asif Zardari…or anyone else had any advance knowledge or was privy to any secret information about the raid. During the aftermath of the raid, there was great confusion and many people were making guesses about what happened. Because of this, it is easy to take even the words of a democrat like Wajid Hasan or a hyper-nationalist like Quraishi and twist them to create suspicion. But that is not journalism.

The White House has categorically denied Mansoor Ijaz’s claims that anyone knew about the Abbottabad operation, and headlines speculating about whether one or another government official may have had secret knowledge of the American operation are completely irresponsible. Rather than carrying out witch hunts against government officials based on speculation and innuendo, perhaps it would be better if journalists thought about who was feeding them false information following the raid and who is feeding them information now.

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