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Embassy Row: ‘Hurt, but not surprised’

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2012

'HURT, BUT NOT SURPRISED'

Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States Tuesday denounced a judicial inquiry that accused him of "disloyalty" to Pakistan and claimed he orchestrated a letter to the Pentagon seeking U.S. help in case of a military coup against the civilian government in Islamabad.

"I am hurt, but not surprised, by the claim of an ideological judiciary, motivated by politics and not law," Husain Haqqani told Embassy Row in an e-mail.

The case against Mr. Haqqani underscores an ugly habit of Pakistani politicians and journalists to hurl charges of conspiracy or corruption against political opponents.

It also is seen by some as an example of the traditional tension between a democratically elected government and Pakistan's military and intelligence community, often suspected of promoting anti-American terrorists.

Mr. Haqqani repeatedly has denied he had any part in writing or delivering a letter last year to U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullins, who was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until his retirement in September.

Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman based in London, sparked the so-called "Memo-gate" scandal by claiming he worked with Mr. Haqqani to deliver the letter to Adm. Mullins from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Mr. Ijaz said Mr. Zardari feared a Pakistani military backlash after U.S. Navy commandos killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in a Pakistani garrison town in May 2011. Mr. Zardari also has denied any role in the affair.

In his email to Embassy Row, Mr. Haqqan, now a professor of international relations at Boston University, called Mr. Ijaz a "reckless self-promoter."

Mr. Ijaz, once a respected U.S. cable news commentator on South Asian issues, was most recently seen in a YouTube video as a ringside announcer at a topless female mud-wrestling event.

The judicial panel, in a 600-page report, said: "Haqqani forgot that he is an ambassador of Pakistan. ... Husain Haqqani is not loyal to Pakistan."

The report said the letter was an attempt to "beseech a foreign government to, with impunity, meddle in and run our [domestic] affairs."

Mr. Haqqani said, "The memo is the figment of the imagination of a reckless self-promoter."

He accused "hard-liners" in Pakistan of using the Memo-gate scandal and anti-American fervor to create an "adversarial relationship" between Pakistan and the United States.

Mr. Haqqani noted that U.S.-Pakistani relations already had gone into a "tailspin" before the commission released its reports. The Obama administration has accused Pakistan's military of sheltering terrorists and Afghan Taliban militants, while Pakistan has shut down routes that supplied NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Mr. Haqqani also said the judicial commission appointed by the Pakistani Supreme Court timed the release of its report to "distract attention" from a corruption investigation involving the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Mr. Haqqani complained that the commission refused his request to submit video testimony but allowed Mr. Ijaz to record his remarks to the panel from London.

"There is no legal case against me," Mr. Haqqani said, "which is why I have not been charged or tried but labeled guilty through a so-called fact-finding commission, which made no effort to hear my version."

Some lawyers told reporters in Pakistan that the commission findings might be used to accuse Mr. Haqqani of treason.

Mr. Haqqani, ambassador in Washington from 2008 until he resigned in November, said his "real crime is standing up for U.S.-Pakistan relations for Pakistan's sake, which is currently an unpopular position in Pakistan."

"It is tragic that anti-Americanism in Pakistan is being exploited to push ideological agendas," he told Embassy Row.

"But I stand by my view that positive U.S.-Pakistan relations under a civilian-led Pakistani government are a must for international peace and Pakistan's stability."

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes. com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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