husain haqqani paradox
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News Analysis

The article published by Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. during the PPP’s government, in the Washington Post, has caught everyone’s attention in Pakistan and questions are being raised by all particularly, the political parties. In the article, Haqqani had claimed that the operation conducted by the U.S. Navy Seals team to take out Osama bin Laden, was done by the approval of the Pakistani government.

But ignoring Ambassador Haqqani’s deliberate attempt to mislead public, these are interesting questions from a prominent academic cum think tanker, working in Washington – where strict adherence to law and procedure matters; especially for those who hold any kind of public office. In Washington, where Haqqani lives in self-exile, Pentagon, CIA, FBI and even corporate heads are called repeatedly in front of Senate committees to explain their actions and policies

The article placed PPP in an awkward position, as the stance taken by the government at the time was that they did not have any knowledge about the operation and even recently claimed that his statement about their full knowledge of issuing visa’s to US contractors and others was not true.

Most PPP leaders including the ex-President, Asif Ali Zardari have tried distancing themselves from Haqqani. PPP leaders also wonder: Why Haqqani is opening up a pandora box that is helping PMLN against PPP?

When asked about the matter, Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, two days ago confirmed that in 2010, the interior ministry had given permission to Husain Haqqani, to directly issue diplomatic visas to Americans bypassing all security protocols. However, a leaked classified document now out suggests that the authorization originated directly from the office of then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani. The classified document was issued by Prime Minister’s secretariat on July 14, 2010.


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This letter, issued by the PM Gillani’s Office, empowering Ambassador, Haqqani, in Washington, becomes all the more troubling when you realize that Embassy was previously, by the beginning of 2010, under strict instructions to not issue visas to several under-cover agents of CIA who may apply under different names. A leaked letter has been tweeted by prominent journalist, Omar Qureshi.


Classified Document

The document stamped ‘secret’ – a copy of which had been sent to the interior secretary – is captioned: ‘Issuance of Official Visas For US Citizens Travelling to Pakistan’.

“Under the existing policy for official US visitors to Pakistan, the ambassador in Washington is empowered to issue entry visas for restricted periods to US officials who have been recommended in writing by the concerned US authority, i.e. the Department of State and whose duly completed application forms clearly indicate for what purposes they intend to travel to Pakistan”.

 

“The prime minister has been pleased to decide that the Ambassador in Washington will be empowered, with immediate effect, to issue visas valid up to one year without Embassy having to refer each aforementioned visa applications to the concerned authorities in Pakistan. The Pakistan embassy in US would issue these visas under intimation to the Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad,”

 

“The Pakistan Embassy in the US would issue these visas under intimation to the prime minister’s office, in Islamabad,” the document concludes.

This letter, issued by the PM Gillani’s Office, empowering Ambassador, Haqqani, in Washington, becomes all the more troubling when you realize that Embassy was previously, by the beginning of 2010, under strict instructions to not issue visas to several under-cover agents of CIA who may apply under different names.

Sartaj Aziz, also provided figures indicating the sudden rise in issuance of visas to the Americans during that period. An approximate of 2,487 visas had been issued between July and December that year, a 50 percent increase over figures for previous six months. This figure was all-time high against data for the previous three years.

While Pakistan’s embassies can process visas for all those who intend to visit Pakistan as tourists and for business purposes without sending their cases to the ministry of interior. However, in case of what Foreign Office calls assignment (official) visas, for foreign nationals, their cases are referred to the interior ministry and relevant security agencies for clearance.

read more: Joint Parliamentary Commission be formed to investigate Hussain Haqqani & PPP leaders..?

Opposition Political Parties pressurize PPP for explanation

Now, that this document is out in the open, it is expected to put massive pressure on PPP’s leadership. The opposition party leader, Zafar Ali Shah, has already petitioned a file against Zardari, Gilani and Haqqani for the violations of their oath and requested the Supreme Court to place Zardari and Gilani’s name in Exit Control List (ECL).

read more: Sharjeel Inam Memon calls his arrest: “Kidnapping”

Senator Babar jumps to Zardari’s defense

Haqqani’s question has an interesting deliberate spin in the first place; he is trying to instill the argument in public minds that the CIA operatives he allowed, into Pakistan, in will full neglect of earlier instructions, from Islamabad, were only looking for Osama Bin Laden. Reality is that Raymond Davis who ended up killing and causing death of three Pakistanis in Lahore had noting to do with OBL project; he was chasing different targets – and the US government could not have disclosed their intentions to Haqqani and Zardari

In Asif Ali Zardari’s defense, former President of Pakistan, Farhatullah Babar, PPP’s Senator, said there is, “no new revelation in Haqqani’s article,” further adding, “a hype is being deliberately created to malign and tarnish Zardari’s image.” Mr. Babar then alleged, “the movers of the motion dare not ask for making the report public because they fear that it might expose those they wish to keep hidden” The PPP senator asserted that instead of focusing on Haqqani and Zardari, “let us focus on the real tragedy of Pakistan and find out how it became possible for Osama Bin Laden to live in Abbottabad.”

read more: Khursheed Shah accuses PML-N of weakening Pakistan

Husain Haqqani asks Pakistan: what’s the problem?

Recent tweets by Husain Haqqani on the issue ask why does Pakistan even have a problem with issuing such visas, since getting Obama is good. Why does it matter if protocols and security clearance and other government procedures are not fulfilled.

Haqqani’s question has an interesting deliberate spin in the first place; he is trying to instill the argument in public minds that the CIA operatives he allowed, into Pakistan, in will full neglect of earlier instructions, from Islamabad, were only looking for Osama Bin Laden. Reality is that Raymond Davis who ended up killing and causing death of three Pakistanis in Lahore had nothing to do with OBL project; he was chasing different targets.

But ignoring Ambassador Haqqani’s deliberate attempt to mislead public, these are interesting questions from a prominent academic cum think tanker, working in Washington – where strict adherence to law and procedure matters; especially for those who hold any kind of public office. In Washington, where Haqqani lives in self-exile,  Pentagon, CIA, FBI and even corporate heads are called repeatedly in front of Senate committees to explain their actions and policies. There is no acceptability, for officers appointed by the President of United States or executives of a democratic government at any level, for working outside the legal laws of the country. What Haqqani did is inconceivable for a US official; American public officials lose their careers and reputations for much lesser and smaller indiscretions.

For a democratic country, such questions, as are being asked of Haqqani and his two erstwhile political masters – Zardari & Gillani – are a necessary part of developing a transparent accountable government. It is regrettable that the former Pakistan Ambassador, seems to still be living in the 1980’s Pakistan and thinks his actions and that of the government at the time should not be questioned or accounted for. And all that under the over-sold spin, that he was some sort of representative of a democracy.

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