Who is Mansoor Ijaz? The US businessman behind Pakistan's 'Memo-gate'
A whistle blowing hero to some, a villain doing the Pakistan military's dirty work to others, Ijaz is above all a mysterious anomaly.
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Friend of 'Bill' to Sudan negotiator
Ijaz had a friend who was developing oil fields in southern Sudan. The friend called him up one day to talk about an op-ed Ijaz had written on Pakistan’s government. Ijaz says his friend challenged him to do the same with his own government, and start with Sudan.Skip to next paragraph
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“What [my friend] said that got my attention was ‘If you think Benazir tells lies wait till you see what your government does.’ All of a sudden it gripped my head.
"This was a completely obscure reason for going. So I took it as a challenge.
"When I got there, I saw we were calling them a terrorist nation but they didn’t have capacity to fly a plane from one end to the other of the country.”
With the help of his connections there he was able to try and negotiate a deal between the Sudanese government and the US for the handover of intelligence data on the sprouting terror network of Osama bin Laden, who had only months earlier at the time been deported to Afghanistan.
Ijaz says that offer, made in April 1997 by Sudan's military strongman, resulted in newly appointed Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to send American diplomats back into Sudan in late September, a decision that was overturned by the White House. "It was one of the great foreign policy failures of our time," said Ijaz.
Ijaz’s claims over his role in Sudan were backed by Timothy Carney who served as US ambassador to Sudan from August 1995 to November 1997 in an op-ed written in the Washington Post. Ijaz provided the Monitor with what appeared to be copies of letters from senior political leader Hasan Turabi in Sudan to President Clinton to back his assertions.
According to numerous contemporary reports in the regional press including Gulf News and The Times of India, Ijaz was also a key negotiator in bringing about the 2000 cease-fire in Kashmir between Indian security forces and Pakistan-backed militants.
"The real architects of the dramatic but short-lived ceasefire between militants based in Pakistan and the Indian Government in Jammu and Kashmir in 2000 were Mansoor Ijaz and C.D. Sahay,[C.D Sahay was the former chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing],” wrote Neena Gopa, foreign editor of Gulf News in 2005.
Ijaz to dodge testimony?
At a hearing on Tuesday, the commission refused Ijaz's request to be deposed abroad and gave him one final opportunity to appear before the Supreme Court commission in Pakistan with revised security arrangements by Feb. 9. "My family, my business partners, and I will now reassess the revised commitments of the government made today and then determine our next steps," Mr. Ijaz told the Monitor.
Over the weekend, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Ijaz could be placed on an Exit Control List, preventing him from leaving the country.