Experts Weigh in on Memogate and the Possibility of a Coup in Pakistan

Pakistani security personnel stand guard outside the Supreme Court building during a hearing in Islamabad on Jan. 19, 2012. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

The Memogate scandal that broke in October 2011 led to resignations, increased anti-Americanism, and now... a potential coup in Pakistan?

Memogate, as it has been dubbed by the press, involves an unsigned memo requesting assistance from the United States military to curb the power of the Pakistani military and intelligence services. In October 2011, Mansoor Ijaz, an American venture capitalist, claimed in an op-ed that Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, directed him to draft the letter. As a result, Haqqani resigned from his position in late November, though he denies Ijaz's claims, arguing the memo was falsified. The Pakistani Supreme Court is currently investigating the issue and Ijaz says he will cooperate with the Court to provide evidence against Haqqani.

Since then, tensions between the civilian government and the military have escalated, and rumors surfaced this week of an impending military takeover. Asia Society Senior Advisor Hassan Abbas told CNN today that such a possibility was unlikely because the majority of the popular political parties, the media and the judiciary would be heavily against a military coup. Instead, Abbas says, it is more likely the current scandal would give the Movement for Justice led by former cricket captain Imran Khan a boost in the next elections.

Writer Mohammed Hanif wrote similarly in the Guardian last week (as Haqqani tweeted today) that a military coup is unlikely. But instead of using force, as it has done in the past, Hanif argued, the military was using rumors to destablize Pakistan. Hanif wrote, "The fact that instead of launching a coup the army has had to rely on rumours of a coup to deal with the government may be read as a sign that the Pakistan army is not as powerful — or shortsighted as it once was."

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Rebecca is a reporter for Asia Blog. She is also currently a graduate student at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.