Can One Man End Pakistani Democracy?

Written by David Frum on Monday December 5, 2011

In my column for CNN, I discuss how Mansoor Ijaz is putting Pakistani democracy in danger:

Big events do not always have big causes. The British once went to war over an injury to a sea captain's ear. And today's Pakistan may collapse into military rule because of one man's eagerness to read his name in the newspaper and see his face on TV.

The man in question is Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman who takes a special delight in political intrigue. Ijaz represents himself as a democrat, a secularist, and a friend of the West. Whatever Ijaz's personal views, nobody has done more these past weeks to undercut Pakistani democracy and poison U.S.-Pakistan relations.

This weekend, Ijaz added his most extreme provocation to date. The story is complicated, but a lot is at stake and Americans would do well to pay attention.

Let's start with the known facts.

In May, U.S. special forces raided the Pakistani city of Abbottabad and killed the terrorist Osama bin Laden.

U.S. officials had understood for years that the Pakistani military and intelligence services were deeply complicit in al Qaeda terrorism. Now the truth was revealed to the whole world.

You might have expected Pakistanis to react with embarrassment to the revelation. You'd expect wrong. Pakistani media filled with nationalist fulminations against the United States -- and with rumors of military plots against Pakistan's civilian government.

Here is where Mansoor Ijaz entered the picture.

Ijaz came to view in the United States in the months after 9/11, when he told an amazing story to anyone who would listen: In the mid-1990s, when Osama bin Laden still lived in Sudan, he -- Ijaz -- had brokered a deal whereby the Sudanese would surrender bin Laden to the United States. The Clinton administration had perversely rejected the deal. This story would ultimately be repudiated as groundless by the 9/11 Commission, but at the time it gained a wide hearing on Fox News and right-wing talk radio. Ijaz himself got a contract as a Fox News analyst.

Click here to read the full column.