December 5th, 2011
01:42 PM ET

Zakaria interviews Mansoor Ijaz on Memogate

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

This past Sunday on GPS, I interviewed a very different kind of guest. He's not a head of state, not an ambassador, not a diplomat. In fact, he has no official position whatsoever, but he functions at the intersection of power and politics between Pakistan and the United States.

Mansoor Ijaz is a Pakistani American businessman who has contacts and friends in both governments. He's come to prominence now because of a controversial op-ed he published recently in the Financial Times.

In it he claimed he was the messenger for a memo from Pakistan's civilian government to the Pentagon, asking Washington to clamp down on Pakistan's military. The U.S. says it ignored the memo. But since Ijaz outed the story, Memogate has led to a new low in relations between the two countries and to a Supreme Court investigation in Pakistan.

In my interview with him, I tried to figure out why this Pakistani American businessman published this article and what he really does know.

Here's a transcript of our conversation:

Fareed Zakaria: Let me begin by asking you, Mansoor, about the substance of the charges you'd laid out in the - in the op-ed in the "Financial Times." And by that, I mean the basic point of your article was a rather striking - in fact, even stunning call for the U.S. to label an element of the Pakistani military, the 'S Branch'  of the intelligence wing, a terrorist organization. What brought you to feel so strongly that?

Mansoor Ijaz: Well, Fareed, first of all, it's good to be with you.

You know, the thing that was really behind this thinking process of mine is that, you know, I've been involved in different operations in Pakistan now for a very long time. I helped Benazir come back together with the Clinton administration as a part of the larger Pakistani-American community. I, as you know, was deeply involved in trying to broker a ceasefire in Kashmir. And during these various interventions that I tried to effect in Pakistan, what we found out in almost every single case was that there was a political motivation and a political interference by the ISI.

Now there have been so many wrong things that have happened since the death of bin Laden in the early part of May, so many things that, you know, indicated that there was some hidden hand if you will in what was going. And it is my view and it is still my view today that section S of the ISI has been involved in some very, very nefarious activities, and so since nobody was able to get their arms around that, the United States had to take the lead on that. And the United States has done this in Iran.

Read: David Frum on whether Pakistan was tipped off to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

They have done it in other countries where they have been very, very hard in, you know, labeling certain organizations in those countries as terrorists. And it had - a material impact in terms of how both U.S. policy as well as other country policies were formulated to handle problems in those countryside.

Fareed Zakaria: Explain what the S Branch of the ISI is. The ISI is the intelligence wing of the Pakistani military. What is the S Branch?

Mansoor Ijaz: Yes. So the ISI has two critical branches in it, one is called CT for counterterrorism, and the other is the S branch for strategic - it's sort of the arm of the ISI that does everything from political interventions in other countries, for example, Afghanistan, which is what they're doing through the Haqqani Network and the Taliban right now.

They do a lot of political interventions in their own country. You know, there are many times when it has been reported in the past and authentically reported and authoritatively reported by the Pakistani press that S Branch was involved in manipulating elections and doing things of that nature inside Pakistan.

So it's an organ of the state that nobody can control, and it is essentially the organ of the state that the army and the intelligence wings are using to shall we say coordinate or obstruct what it is that the political side of the government, the civilian side of the governments do in Pakistan.

Fareed Zakaria: Now the whole thrust of op-ed is that the ISI, the Pakistani military, operates in very nefarious ways often. Has involved itself as you just said in the domestic affairs of Pakistan and really brooks tolerates no adversaries.

So what I'm wondering is, why would you make public the fact that the Pakistani civilian government was concerned about the ISI and was trying to curtail it? It seems to undercut the very purpose of your own article to reveal that the civilian government was trying to clip the wings of the Pakistani military.

Mansoor Ijaz: Yes. That's a fair question. And all I will tell you is that you've written enough op-ed pieces to know that the way the op-ed process, the writing process works is that there has to be some authenticity in the way that a writer presents his particular argument.

Now I'm not a writer of a book like Ahmed Rashid, I'm not a decorated veteran of some war, I'm not a former secretary of state, I'm not you. You've got a great credibility to do these things just on your name alone.

In my case because I'm a businessman who theoretically has nothing to do with these kinds of issues, what I wrote and how I wrote needed to have a certain authenticity to it –

Fareed Zakaria: But I still have to ask you, isn't the net effect of what you've done been to silence the democratically elected branch of government and empower the very people who you seem to be opposed to?

Mansoor Ijaz: I don't think that's what's happened. If you ask me, we have strengthened Pakistan. Maybe we haven't strengthened the civilian side of Pakistan's government, but there may have been a rot there that needs to be cleaned up. And if that rot is cleaned out, you might find a very strong Pakistan emanating out of this in which the judiciary does what it's supposed to. The military does what it's supposed to.

There will never be a time in my view where the military is subservient to the civilians in our lifetime. It may take 30, 40 years for that transformation to come. But when it does come, at least what we did was make sure the civilian government has an equal shoulder to the military and the judiciary.

And if I look at the broad picture, that's a pretty good result in terms of making sure these facts got known.

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show • Military • Pakistan

soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. krm1007

    NEW YORK: Renowned Indian activist and novelist Arundhati Roy has decried the silence of the international community over the continued “brutal Indian occupation of Kashmir” and said Kashmiris should be given the right to self-determination.
    “Kashmir is one of the most protracted and bloody occupations in the world — and one of the most ignored,” she told a large audience at the Asia Society during a discussion on “Kashmir — a case for freedom”.
    Under the Indian military rule in Kashmir, Ms Roy said, freedom of speech was non-existent and human rights abuses were routine. Elections were rigged and the press controlled.
    She said the lives of Kashmiris were made miserable by gun-totting security personnel who harassed and terrorised people with impunity, adding that disappearances were almost a daily occurrence as also kidnapping, arrests, fake encounters and torture. Mass graves have been discovered and the conscience of the world remains unstirred……
    The apathy towards Kashmir, especially in the western world, Ms Roy said, was because of their pursuit of commercial interests in India where they were more eager to “sell their goods than human rights”……..

    December 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  2. krm1007

    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN,
    Land that we love.
    Stand beside her, and guide her
    Thru the night with a light from above.
    From Kashmir to Karachi and onto New Delhi,
    And to the oceans, white with foam
    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN, Our home sweet home.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  3. krm1007

    PAKISTAN.....The New Gateway to Central Asia and Europe.
    With a population of over 180 million most of whom are well educated, english speaking, entrepreneurial, a cultural and social fit with Central Asians...Pakistan will now become the new face and gateway to Central Asia and Europe. Pakistan will thus span this region and provide the impetus for growth, prosperity and unity among these countries. These are new and exciting times for Pakistanis who should now look forward to their new leadership role aligned with Central Asia and Europe rather than the Subcontinent. We wish them much success as they have sacrificed the most during the past 30 + years creating a new world order.
    Notwithstanding the fact that the Indian cricket players were the pioneers in spot fixing cricket matches and that Mumbai/Chennai are the cricket gambling capitals of the world, Pakistan should not tolerate such actions from its cricket players. If found guilty and after all appeals are exhausted and appeal periods are extinguished, these players should be banned from life by Pakistan. We need to strive for nothing less than excellence in everything we do including sports. That should be Pakistan’s motto as a nation.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
    • Saba is a big Randi

      I luv big Paki dix and I cannot lie....

      December 7, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  4. Saba is a big Randi

    I JUST WET MYSELF THINKING ABOUT PAKI MEN. THEY MAKE ME DO THINGS THAT I NEVER IMAGINED DOING. THEY DO ME KUTHA STYLE AND THEN SPIT ALL OVER ME AND MY MOM. I LUV IT!!!!

    December 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  5. alidonfong

    INDIA: On a Goat and a Stick:hey

    The problem with India is that is built on a system of cultural and societal values based on Hinduism which is a cult. Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run. You can only take it so far based on symbolisms of a goat and a stick with a skinny little man aka gandhi banging boys at night and spinning wheels during daytime.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:12 am | Reply
  6. alidonfong

    INDIA hey: On a Goat and a Stick:

    The problem with India is that is built on a system of cultural and societal values based on Hinduism which is a cult. Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run. You can only take it so far based on symbolisms of a goat and a stick with a skinny little man aka gandhi banging boys at night and spinning wheels during daytime.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:13 am | Reply
  7. alidonfong

    hey The Multidimensional Poverty Index developed by Oxford University shows that India is far poorer than Africa not just in number but also in intensity.
    The new poverty measure shows that 8 states out of the 29 states in India have more poor people than 26 poorest African countries combined. The Multidimensional poverty index views poverty from several different angles instead of just GDP figures. India is crippled by so many problems. For example, India's population growth rate is increasing by the day putting pressure on the limited resources and leaving many Indians in absolute poverty. India is very poor in terms of education, in terms of economic improvement, infrastructure, heath care, etc

    December 8, 2011 at 3:14 am | Reply
  8. alidonfong

    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN,
    Land that we love.
    Stand beside her, and guide her
    Thru the night with a light from above.
    From Kashmir to Karachi and onto New Delhi,
    And to the oceans, white with foam
    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN, Our home sweet home.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:14 am | Reply
  9. alidonfong

    "Experimental Democracy" has failed in India. An experiment that was being shoved down India's throat by western countries too eager to propagate their own values on a country that was trying to decolonize itself while trying to shed the communist skin of being a Soviet ally. India was thus trapped. What has become evident now is that this "Experimental Democracy" has marginalized the country. The marginalized groups of the country – Dalits and ‘backward’ castes/classes, indigenous ‘tribal’ people and religious minorities have been disenfranchised. "The belief that corruption is the important issue in the country is shared only by the minority living in urban areas and towns who have been beneficiaries of economic liberalization policies mandated by western countries. The most important challenges of Indian society remain as follows: justice, social and economic equality and equal access to certain standards of life for all Indians. “While India seems too eager to please its western masters and put on a progressive and softer face for CNN for public consumption, people see through it. The consequences of this "Band – Aid" approach will be brutal for India geo-politically when it realizes that the GDP statistics that it has been relying to gage its progress has not amounted to much in the long run....ha

    December 8, 2011 at 3:15 am | Reply
  10. alidonfong

    Saba is Indian Randi

    December 8, 2011 at 3:18 am | Reply
  11. SABA

    Really i feel sorry and apology for saying and spreading wrong things against Pakistan.what i want to say now is that Pakistan is a great country who is now suffering for the whole world peace and giving the scarification more then any nations on this planet.my self and all Indians support Pakistan to liberate the Indian,s minorities as well.i once again feel shameful for wrong comments against Pakistan.

    love for PAKISTAN and shame on me SABA.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:27 am | Reply
  12. SABA

    Really i feel sorry and apology for saying and spreading wrong things against Pakistan.what i want to say now is that Pakistan is a great country who is now suffering for the whole world peace and giving the scarification more then any nations on this planet.my self and all Indians support Pakistan to liberate the Indian,s minorities as well.i once again feel shameful for wrong comments against Pakistan.

    love for PAKISTAN and shame on me

    December 8, 2011 at 3:29 am | Reply
  13. SABA

    Really i feel sorry and apology for saying and spreading wrong things against Pakistan.what i want to say now is that Pakistan is a great country who is now suffering for the whole world peace and giving the scarification more then any nations on this planet.my self and all Indians support Pakistan to liberate the Indian,s minorities as well.i once again feel shameful for wrong comments against Pakistan.

    LOVE FOR PAKISTAN and shame on me SABA RANDI

    December 8, 2011 at 3:29 am | Reply
  14. SABA

    Really i feel sorry and apology for saying and spreading wrong things against Pakistan.what i want to say now is that Pakistan is a great country who is now suffering for the whole world peace and giving the scarification more then any nations on this planet.my self and all Indians support Pakistan to liberate the Indian,s minorities as well.i once again feel shameful for wrong comments against Pakistan.

    love for PAKISTAN and shame on me SABA GASHTI

    December 8, 2011 at 3:31 am | Reply
  15. SABA

    HI
    Somalia better than U.S. too atleast they return the ships after ransom, they dont attack any country for money.
    USA = Unethical Series of Attacks

    December 8, 2011 at 3:31 am | Reply
  16. SABA

    Morning
    Here is short summary of what Pakistan did for USA.
    1) Choose US over Russia as Ally since the creation of Pakistan.
    2) Pakistan Join CENTO (Alliance again Russia), just to please USA
    3) Pakistan did not took part directly in Arab-Israel wars, again just to please USA
    4) Pakistan lost half of the country (Pakistan was at fault) and did not get any direct military support from USA and at they end they had to raise white flag and accept defeat.
    5) In 1980’s after Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan Pakistan was brainwashed by USA that Russia is going to invade there land, USA provided full military and some what financial support to Pakistan to train Mujahidin’s against Red Army in Afghanistan, at the end Red Army left and its economy collapsed, USSR was also broken into several countries, it is not wrong to say that former soviet Union was defeated by Mujahidin’s and the won the war for USA.
    6) Pakistan is home to millions of Afghan refugees due to ongoing wars in Afghanistan in which USA is directly or in directly involved. Afghan refuges also brought drugs and weapons which resulted in thousand’s of death in Pakistan.
    7) After 9/11 Pakistan shook hands with USA again to eliminate al-Qaida and Taleban from Afghanistan, the outcome of this is 30,000 thousand deaths in Pakistan and loss of 60 billon $.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:32 am | Reply
  17. SABA

    "Experimental Democracy" has failed in India. An experiment that was being shoved down India's throat by western countries too eager to propagate their own values on a country that was trying to decolonize itself while trying to shed the communist skin of being a Soviet ally. India was thus trapped. What has become evident now is that this "Experimental Democracy" has marginalized the country. The marginalized groups of the country – Dalits and ‘backward’ castes/classes, indigenous ‘tribal’ people and religious minorities have been disenfranchised. "The belief that corruption is the important issue in the country is shared only by the minority living in urban areas and towns who have been beneficiaries of economic liberalization policies mandated by western countries. The most important challenges of Indian society remain as follows: justice, social and economic equality and equal access to certain standards of life for all Indians. “While India seems too eager to please its western masters and put on a progressive and softer face for CNN for public consumption, people see through it. The consequences of this "Band – Aid" approach will be brutal for India geo-politically when it realizes that the GDP statistics that it has been relying to gage its progress has not amounted to much in the long run.thanks

    December 8, 2011 at 3:32 am | Reply
  18. SABA

    PAKISTAN.....The
    New Gateway to Central Asia and Europe.

    With a
    population of over 180 million most of whom are well educated, english
    speaking, entrepreneurial, a cultural and social fit with Central
    Asians...Pakistan will now become the new face and gateway to Central Asia and
    Europe. Pakistan will thus span this region and provide the impetus for growth,
    prosperity and unity among these countries. These are new and exciting times
    for Pakistanis who should now look forward to their new leadership role aligned
    with Central Asia and Europe rather than the Subcontinent. We wish them much
    success as they have sacrificed the most during the past 30 + years creating a
    new world order.thanks

    December 8, 2011 at 3:34 am | Reply
  19. alidonfong

    PAKISTAN.....The New Gateway to Central Asia and Europe.
    With a population of over 180 million most of whom are well educated, english speaking, entrepreneurial, a cultural and social fit with Central Asians...Pakistan will now become the new face and gateway to Central Asia and Europe. Pakistan will thus span this region and provide the impetus for growth, prosperity and unity among these countries. These are new and exciting times for Pakistanis who should now look forward to their new leadership role aligned with Central Asia and Europe rather than the Subcontinent. We wish them much success as they have sacrificed the most during the past 30 + years creating a new world order.
    Notwithstanding the fact that the Indian cricket players were the pioneers in spot fixing cricket matches and that Mumbai/Chennai are the cricket gambling capitals of the world, Pakistan should not tolerate such actions from its cricket players. If found guilty and after all appeals are exhausted and appeal periods are extinguished, these players should be banned from life by Pakistan. We need to strive for nothing less than excellence in everything we do including sports. That should be Pakistan’s motto as a nation.th

    December 8, 2011 at 8:51 am | Reply
  20. SABA

    PAKISTAN.....The New Gateway to Central Asia and Europe.
    With a population of over 180 million most of whom are well educated, english speaking, entrepreneurial, a cultural and social fit with Central Asians...Pakistan will now become the new face and gateway to Central Asia and Europe. Pakistan will thus span this region and provide the impetus for growth, prosperity and unity among these countries. These are new and exciting times for Pakistanis who should now look forward to their new leadership role aligned with Central Asia and Europe rather than the Subcontinent. We wish them much success as they have sacrificed the most during the past 30 + years creating a new world order.
    Notwithstanding the fact that the Indian cricket players were the pioneers in spot fixing cricket matches and that Mumbai/Chennai are the cricket gambling capitals of the world, Pakistan should not tolerate such actions from its cricket players. If found guilty and after all appeals are exhausted and appeal periods are extinguished, these players should be banned from life by Pakistan. We need to strive for nothing less than excellence in everything we do including sports. That should be Pakistan’s motto as a nation.o

    December 8, 2011 at 8:51 am | Reply
  21. SABA

    only india
    Can any country shelter Bin Laden for 5 years near IT'S military academy, ONLY india

    Can any country proliferate Nuclear weapon technology to Iran , North Korea and Libya, ONLY india

    Can any country support HAQQANI Network so that it kills US Troops as they come home in BODYBAGS, Only
    india

    Can any country have its overseas citizens plan the TIME SQUARE bomb plot, ONLY india

    Can any country orchestrate the MUMBAI attacks on India , ONLY india

    Can any country nurture the TALIBAN TO KILL it's own people ( ALI MENTIONED Pakistani civialn deaths ) , ONLy india

    Can any country take 20 billion dollar aid and use it against India as opposed to feed its people, ONLY india

    Can any country attack the Taliban negotiator,destabilize Afganistan by training Afghan Taliban as a strategic weapon, ONLY india

    Can any country's citizen ( Khalid sheikh Mohammed) Pitch ideas to Bin Laden on flying planed into building on Sept 11, Only india

    Can any country's citizen ( David headley alais Dawood Gilani ) act as scout for the Mumbai Attacks , Only india

    December 8, 2011 at 8:56 am | Reply
    • Adnan

      You have some pretty strong arguments, but as far as America cares, Pakistan is still friendly. Hopefully in the next few months, or even years, America can open it's eyes wider and see the Pakistan has been the source of the problem all along. My dad is from Peshawar (I'm a Pathan) and I share no sympathy for the country at all. I was born and raised in America and am loyal to this country (even though we can also be stupid).

      December 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  22. alidonfong

    "Experimental Democracy" has failed in India. An experiment that was being shoved down India's throat by western countries too eager to propagate their own values on a country that was trying to decolonize itself while trying to shed the communist skin of being a Soviet ally. India was thus trapped. What has become evident now is that this "Experimental Democracy" has marginalized the country. The marginalized groups of the country – Dalits and ‘backward’ castes/classes, indigenous ‘tribal’ people and religious minorities have been disenfranchised. "The belief that corruption is the important issue in the country is shared only by the minority living in urban areas and towns who have been beneficiaries of economic liberalization policies mandated by western countries. The most important challenges of Indian society remain as follows: justice, social and economic equality and equal access to certain standards of life for all Indians. “While India seems too eager to please its western masters and put on a progressive and softer face for CNN for public consumption, people see through it. The consequences of this "Band – Aid" approach will be brutal for India geo-politically when it realizes that the GDP statistics that it has been relying to gage its progress has not amounted to much in the long run.o

    December 8, 2011 at 8:59 am | Reply
  23. Kaiser

    Saba!
    it is the fault of your moms and grand moms who gave their most prized possessions to the fair and handsome invaders from the North. They still do because your sisters prefer being possessed by the men from the North, then why is it that you hate the Pakistanis? I suggest cool down and try spending just one night with the men of the North, you will love them for their manliness! believe me SABA! unless you are a lesbian preferring the Old dirty road.
    Pakistanis are not at fault for this phenomenon.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  24. Real_World

    Hey Saba, Did you just learn to copy and paste? What a great invention. Right?

    Now, let me introduce you to Soap, Toothpaste and a shower.

    December 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  25. ymr

    Can any country allow drones to fly in even though citizens are killed ,only Pakistan.
    Can any country have their troops killed but not do anything ,only Pakistan.
    Can any country have Cia agents come in and kill their citizens ,only Pakistan.
    Also a country's citizen may be terrorist but that doesn't make it their fault.
    I am Indian by the way and a naturalized American.

    December 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  26. krm1007

    LIPSTICK ON A PIG: The Story Of India

    Mirror Mirror on the Wall.....show the Indian Hindus who is the slimiest of them all.
    The way you let the shadows play
    You’d think my hair was getting gray.
    What’s that, you say? A double chin?
    No, that’s the way the light comes in.

    Self Denial …Self Denial…. Is the Hindu play.
    Maybe catharsis is another way

    December 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  27. Umair

    I am not even going to focus ont he facts that you have shared as they are flawed beyond belief but would like to share my thoughts on why you are opinions are the way they are..

    either you are a disgrunted indian muslim who is upset for his/her lost identiity crisis because you live in a pre-dominantly Hindu India where you probably have trouble ordering a beef burger or if you live in Gujrat or Bombay you are constantly at threat by Hindy flash mobs and you are probably in a much worse condition than the Dalits.

    the other scenario is that you are an ignorant Indian Hindu (dont be alienated we have them on the pakistani side as well)who has never ever set foot outside India or has but has never interacted with any Pakistani (fortunately for the Pakistani).
    as an FYI to your comment on the Pakistanis acting like Indians is probably true (not because we want to for the reason mentioned by you – and trust me Indians are not held in that great of a regard in the west either) because had you ever interacted with someone outside your other ignorant Indian friends you would know the Indian and Pakistani cultures are well mostly similar to say the least and unless you are from the south of India (which guessing by your tone you might be actually) we look similar too. so Indians probably act as much like Pakistanis as Pakistanis do like Indians.

    December 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  28. krm1007

    , India is geographically, culturally and politically trapped, isolated and encircled. Now that it has been cut off from rest of Asia, the Indians (unfortunately) have nowhere to go but into the ocean. A look at a map conveys the inevitability of this scenario. For India to survive, it has no choice but to have excellent relations with Pakistan. This is a matter of time. The question is whether Pakistan has a big heart to accommodate the very survival of India/Hindu race. Perhaps not this time around.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  29. Deepak

    Saba- the sukie sukie master of the world. never cleans her face till sea man drips to ground. u my prend

    December 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  30. alidonfong

    fool is better then a Indian bitcccccccccccch is,n it?

    December 7, 2011 at 7:45 am | Reply
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