ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 6 (UPI) -- A former Pakistani intelligence chief denied that a coup had been planned against the government last year.
During a judicial commission hearing headed by Justice Faiz Esa at the Islamabad High Court, former Inter-Services Intelligence Director Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha said, "If there was a threat, the ISI would have known about it."
Pasha was responding to reports purporting that the military planned a coup against the government of President Asif Zardari in the wake of the May 2, 2011, U.S. commando raid in Abbottabad that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
After that operation, critics accused Pakistan's military and security establishment of protecting bin Laden.
Pakistan's Supreme Court created the three-judge commission to investigate the "Memogate" allegations after U.S. businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public a memo that he claimed was drafted and delivered to the U.S. Navy Adm. Mike McMullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the instructions of Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani.
The memo reportedly sought Washington's assistance to thwart a military coup that the Zardari government feared would occur in the wake of bin Laden's death, Asian News International news agency reported.
Five days after the appearance of the document, Haqqani resigned, saying that "Pakistan and Pakistan's democracy are far more important than any artificially created crisis over an insignificant memo written by a self-centered businessman. I have served Pakistan and Pakistani democracy to the best of my ability and will continue to do so."
Pakistan's government subsequently rejected Ijaz's assertions.
Pasha told the commission that the ISI's media department had briefed him about Ijaz's allegations, first made in an article in the Financial Times, adding that he only consulted the military leadership after finding out about the item.
He said, "I wanted to know about the author of the memo and directed a source to contact Mansoor Ijaz, who agreed to meet me and share details but outside Pakistan and the U.S."
Pasha added that after the military leadership asked him to gather more information, a meeting with Ijaz was arranged in a London hotel last October, noting that he didn't know Ijaz before meeting him.
About the 4-hour encounter Pasha testified, "I saw probably 35 BlackBerry messages on Ijaz's mobile which were exchanged between him and Haqqani."
Haqqani and his wife have retained legal counsel to contest Ijaz's allegations in court in both Pakistan and the U.S. courts.