ISLAMABAD – The government and the army remain poles apart on the issue of memo controversy even after the quiet mediation by the leadership of the PML-Q and the two sides stick to their guns while the Supreme Court hears the matter.

The Ministry of Interior submitted an affidavit to the apex court on Monday, in response to the statements submitted by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and ISI DG General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and raised objections to the intelligence agency chief’s meeting with Mr Mansoor Ijaz in London.

In the 18-page reply, submitted by the Attorney General for Pakistan, the Ministry said the COAS did not immediately inform the prime minister of the details regarding the memo scandal. The government also said General Shuja Pasha should have first informed the prime minister of his meeting with the US-based businessman.

The affidavit of Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar raised constitutional and legal questions over the Army chief and DG ISI’s responses to the memo issue. General Kayani had informed the prime minister of General Pasha’s meeting with Mansoor Ijaz after a delay of 20 days.

Gen Kayani met with the prime minister on November 13, while his meeting with Pasha took place on October 24.

In reply to DG ISI’s statement, the government was of the view that according to the rules and regulations the ISI chief should have informed the prime minister of the issue before anyone else.

The reply also calls Ijaz’s allegations “a pack of lies.” Moreover, it goes on to say that a “piece of paper” does not pose a threat to the world’s “eighth largest army.

The Interior Ministry’s reply says that Mansoor Ijaz had tried to pit the state institutions against each other. The memo is just a non-issue, the ministry says, a position which is in conflict with the army that says it was a move to demoralize the Pakistan army.  The government and the army also differ on the issue of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to take up the matter.

The Interior Ministry reiterated on Monday that the parliament’s standing committee on national security was already seized with the matter under a directive from the prime minister.  The committee, the Ministry said, had representation from all parties. It had held a number of meetings and was collecting the relevant record, the reply said.

The ministry said the president and the prime minister had nothing to do with the memo at all. As for the resignation of Hussain Haqqani, the Interior Ministry said Mr Haqqani had tendered it in the national interest.  Some TV reports say that the ministry further said that the prime minister had not called for Mr Haqqani’s resignation and the ambassador himself had made the offer.

The assertion, apparently, contradicts the prime minister’s earlier statement that he had asked Mr Haqqani to resign for the sake of a fair and transparent investigation of the matter.