Ambassador Blackmails Pakisan To Save Job

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Oct 16, 2009, 7:37:55 PM10/16/09

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If Fired, Haqqani Threatens To Reveal 'Reams' of Pakistani Secrets


Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has served a legal notice of Rs.  One billion PKR to Mr. Majeed Nizami, the editor-in-chief of The Nation for publishing this report.  Mr. Haqqani tried to quietly send a limited message to the Pakistani military and intelligence using an American media outlet.  What he did not know is that a small leak to an American website would be exposed in Pakistan on the front page of a major Pakistani national daily.  No one also expected Mr. Haqqani to stoop so low as to sue the man who played a crucial role in Mr. Haqqani's meteoric rise.




By Ahmed Quraishi

The Nation

Wednesday, 14 October 2009.



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The Pakistan Embassy in Washington continues to convey a wrong picture to American officials and politicians on the uproar in Pakistan over the condescending language in the Kerry-Lugar bill.  Embassy 'sources' are feeding a consistent line to US officials and media that the uproar in Pakistan is 'manipulated' by the Pakistani military, President Zardari's political opponents and the "anti-American forces in Islamabad."  This line is increasingly finding space in most US media reports that quote Pakistan Embassy sources on the issue.


One US media report even quotes a 'source' saying that the personal attacks against Ambassador Haqqani are the result of what one US journalist has termed as Mr. Haqqani's 'anti-army' position in the years before he joined the elected government last year.


While attempting to defend his position, suspicion is growing that Ambassador Haqqani is doing a huge disservice to his country and to his hosts by misleading both on the real issues that have generated the latest tensions in the relationship between Islamabad and Washington.


And the complaints are not just coming from Islamabad.  Even some Americans are beginning to identify this communication problem between the two capitals.  At least one former US military officer who now works as an analyst focused on US-Pakistan relations has told The Nation from Washington that US officials are "badly misinformed" about the real debate in Pakistan.  US officials do not know, according to him, that the problem is not the so-called 'anti-American forces' in Pakistan but the offensive language in the bill.


The latest development in this story is that the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine is now quoting sources close to Ambassador Haqqani that he is contemplating going public with embarrassing Pakistani official documents that he laid his hands on during his official capacity if he was fired from his job for playing a deliberate role in inserting anti-military and nuclear-related clauses in the Kerry-Lugar bill.


Bill Rogin, a correspondent for the Foreign Policy magazine covering Pentagon and the State Department, interviewed Mr. Haqqani on Tuesday over telephone for the online version of the magazine as the ambassador attended the rollout of the first of the 18 F-16 fighter planes being sold to Pakistan at Forth Worth, Texas.


After several 'exclusive' quotes on the record from Ambassador Haqqani, Mr. Rogin went on to quote 'sources'.  One quote is quite ominous and damaging for Pakistani interest and appears as if a serving government officer is blackmailing his employer:


This is how Mr. Rogin has phrased this quote, "These sources also say that Haqqani has reams of documents that could embarrass the forces aligned against him and sacking him could open up a Pandora's box of controversy that the government would not appreciate, which he might do if forced to defend himself after being fired."


The issue now is that due to Mr. Haqqani's own insecurity about his position after several calls by Pakistani politicians for his removal, he is rendered ineffective in removing the latest misunderstandings between Pakistan and the United States.


Even the Americans are beginning to understand this.  Ambassador Anne Patterson has conceded some of the language in the bill was a 'mistake.'  Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has blamed some US congressmen for the overbearing language.  But the general message that US officials and the media are receiving from the Pakistan Embassy remains distorted.


Here is an example from Foreign Policy's Mr. Rogin, from the same piece where Mr. Haqqani is quoted: "The emerging narrative from Pakistani sources close to the issue is that the furor over the bill was largely a tempest in a teapot, a perfect opportunity for anti-American forces in Islamabad to accuse the government of President Asif Ali Zardari of being too close to the Americans."


A retired US military officer, well informed about Pakistan-related diplomacy in Washington, told The Nation over telephone that Ambassador Haqqani is part of the problem why the Americans are not getting the real picture about why Pakistanis are so upset with the aid bill.


"The problem is that American policymakers have been badly misinformed," says the retired US military officer, "and Haqqani has not set them straight or allowed others to do so."


The stunning part is that the picture that this retired US military officer paints about the message is completely different from what most Pakistanis think they are telling Washington.


This is how he puts it: "You will notice that the most onerous provisions have to do with nuclear proliferation and the ISI.  Our government is filled with people who believe that A.Q. Khan was running around giving rogue nations turnkey access to nuclear weapons and that he still has confederates doing so. Basically, for the above, you can say that Haqqani refused to work with people who could have helped set them straight because he was not willing to share the spotlight with anyone.  There is also the fact that Haqqani, like the PPP itself, had spent the nine years before the PPP regained power concocting tales about all the sinister activities of the ISI.  Having spouted all of this ridiculous bullcrap for years, and having refused to admit that they had concocted the stories, they cannot now make a convincing argument to their American counterparts that the ISI are great guys and an asset to Pakistan.  The Americans just say: "Of course the PPP is saying good things about the ISI. What do you expect? They are terrified. If they didn't say good things about the ISI, their lives and those of their families wouldn't be worth a dime."


"In other words," concludes the US analyst, "the PPP is now compelled to sleep in the bed it made for itself."  This officer does not want to be named here because his work entails direct contacts with the governments of Pakistan, the United States and the embassy of Pakistan in Washington.


This analysis confirms that despite the best efforts many Pakistani politicians and also the Pakistani military in their direct consultations with senior government officials in Islamabad, the message reaching Washington remains distorted and is being painted as a 'tempest in a teapot'.


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