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Question of the Day
PAKISTAN ENVOY SACKED
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States resigned Tuesday in a widening scandal over a secret letter to a top U.S. military official, fears of a military coup in Pakistan and accusations between the diplomat and a businessman who claims they plotted to deliver the message to the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, Farahnaz Ispahani, the ambassador’s wife and a member of the Pakistan parliament, threatened to file a libel suit against Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman who accused Mr. Haqqani of recruiting him to deliver the letter to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until his retirement in September.
Mr. Ijaz says the letter was written by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who was seeking Adm. Mullen’s public support if he fired the chiefs of the Pakistani army and intelligence service who were suspected of plotting to overthrow the civilian government.
He claims Mr. Haqqani asked him to serve as a secret messenger so the Pakistani government could deny any official role in the scheme if the plot were exposed and created more tensions between the elected government and the military.
Rumors of an army coup swept political circles in Pakistan after U.S. Navy commandos killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 in a Pakistani military garrison town north of the capital, Islamabad. Some U.S. critics cited the presence of the world’s most wanted terrorist on Pakistani soil as proof that top military or intelligence officials were sheltering terrorists.
In the letter to Adm. Mullen nine days after the death of bin Laden, Mr. Zardari referred to a “dangerous devolution of the ground situation in Islamabad where no control appears to be in place,” according to a report Tuesday in Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper.
He warned that Pakistan could “become a sanctuary for Osama bin Laden’s legacy and potentially the platform for more rapid spread of al Qaeda’s brand of fanaticism and terror,” the Express Tribune added.
In one Twitter message Tuesday, Mr. Haqqani said he requested Mr. Gilani accept his resignation. In another message, he added that he will work as a private citizen to build a “new Pakistan free of bigotry and intolerance.”
“His entire harangue is aimed at pitting the civil and military administrations against each other and sowing the seeds of discord,” he told India’s NDTV.
Mr. Ijaz, an investment banker and media commentator on South Asian issues, said he recruited a former U.S. official to deliver the letter to Adm. Mullen. He revealed the plot behind the letter in a column last month in the London-based Financial Times.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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