This legislation, which was brokered along with Musharraf and the U.S. government, paved the way for Bhutto's return in the fall of 2007. Washington understood the NRO to be the only way to salvage Musharraf's battered legitimacy by allowing him to remain as president while also paving the way for Bhutto to become prime minister following elections scheduled for late 2007. Her assassination changed everyone's fortunes.
In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the NRO was unconstitutional, with obvious implications for the various PPP officials who benefited from it, including Zardari. The Supreme Court has demanded to know why the government has failed to implement its 2009 vacation of the NRO by reinstating all criminal cases. The Supreme Court has also informed Zardari that he does not enjoy automatic immunity from prosecution for his alleged crimes.
The Army also now has a newer hook to hang proceedings against this government: the "Memogate" scandal. In the aftermath of the bin Laden raid, a mysterious memo was delivered to Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, . The memo asked for U.S. assistance to stave off a coup and in return offered to reverse Pakistan's decades-long policy of jihad under an expanding nuclear umbrella. Mullen admits he received the document, but quickly concluded that it was not credible. The memo riles Pakistan's military and intelligence officials because it sought to put them in their proper place: under civilian control. This was the last straw for Pakistan's security complex, which for years has objected to this government's efforts to enlist U.S. assistance in curbing its power and influence.
At the vortex of Memogate is Haqqani, now back in Pakistan and subject to a travel ban, and Mansoor Ijaz, a wealthy Pakistani-American. For outside observers, the proceedings are bizarre. On Nov. 23, former Prime Minister Sharif filed a petition to the Supreme Court demanding a probe into the scandal under Article 184(3) of Pakistan's Constitution. With no charges filed and without any reference from a lower court, Pakistan's highest court of appeal has ordered a judicial commission to determine the authenticity and providence of the memo within four weeks. (This is possible because this provision of Pakistan's Constitution permits the court to directly hear a matter that is of public importance relating to the enforcement of fundamental rights.)
Whether or not Haqqani drafted or dictated the memo in question is difficult to discern, as there is no direct evidence linking him to it other than Ijaz's assertions and a series of cryptic BlackBerry messages. Ijaz claims Haqqani dictated the memo to him over the phone, and thus far Ijaz has not claimed to have recordings of those conversations. Few analysts are foolhardy enough to vigorously defend either man, as both have long-established records of duplicity and double-dealing.
The stakes are high for Haqqani. He believes that his life is in danger because he has been widely depicted in Pakistan's jingoistic press as having sold out Pakistan's sovereignty to the Americans. That he has been an extremely effective ambassador and ably buffeted Pakistan from various U.S. fits of outrage is immaterial: Haqqani has been presumed to be guilty, has not been afforded the opportunity to present his version of events to counter those of Ijaz, has been denied freedom of movement without any charges being filed against him, and lives as a virtual prisoner within the prime minister's house.
Leaving aside the particular fate of Haqqani, it's important to understand this bizarre fiasco as a new sort of coup. In the old days, Pakistani generals sent tanks to oust a government. Now they plant stories in the press and manipulate the legal system.
First, if, for the sake of argument, one assumes that Haqqani is the author of the memo and indeed requested U.S. assistance in maintaining and expanding civilian control over the government and national security policy, the request is hardly treasonous. After all, the political disposition articulated in the memo is exactly what is called for in Pakistan's Constitution -- civilian control of the military.
Second, Haqqani is hardly the first to request U.S. involvement in Pakistan's national security affairs. In 1950, Pakistan's first premier, Liaqat Ali Khan, told an American journalist that should the United States "guarantee our territorial integrity, I will not keep any Army at all." Instead, Khan's visit ushered in the deep military cooperation with Pakistan that has enabled the Army to strongly root itself as the dominant institution in the country. But no one even intimated that such statements were treasonous.