Zardari back home as memo trial begins memo scandal
KARACHI / KABUL
Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Husain Haqqani (R) talks with Pakistan’s President Zardari. Haqqani reportedly resigned from his post due to the memo scandal. AP photo
Pakistan’s Supreme Court opened hearings yesterday into a secret memo sent to Washington that has sharply raised tensions between the military and the government as Pakistan’s beleaguered President Asif Ali Zardari returned suddenly yesterday from two weeks of medical treatment abroad.
He returned, under the cover of darkness on a chartered plane, as the Supreme Court decided whether to order an inquiry into allegations that one of his aides sought American help in limiting the power of the military. The head of the army, General Ashfaq Kayani, last week called for an investigation into a memo allegedly written because Zardari feared he could be ousted in a coup after a covert U.S. raid killed Osama bin Laden on May 2. Kayani said the memo had impacted national security. The scandal has inflamed tensions between Zardari’s weak government and the military, which has staged four coups in Pakistan and remains the chief arbiter of power. But aides denied that Zardari’s return had anything to do with the Supreme Court, saying he would meet leaders from his Pakistan People’s Party in Karachi.
NATO defiant on night raids
Meanwhile, NATO said that U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan will continue night raids, despite renewed objections from Afghan President Hamid Karzai after a pregnant woman was killed during an operation.
Afghan special forces will increasingly take the lead in such operations, spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson said, without giving a precise timetable.