Husain Haqqani defends civilian rule, US ties
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, who was summoned by the country’s top court, on Thursday staunchly defended civilian rule and efforts to improve ties with the United States.
A commission set up by the Supreme Court has accused Husain Haqqani of disloyalty over an unsigned memo sent in May 2011 to the then chief of the US armed forces, Admiral Mike Mullen, seeking help to curb Pakistan’s military in the wake of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Haqqani dismissed claims he wrote the memo, saying it was illogical to accuse him of being an “American agent” and at the same time charge that he needed to rely on a controversial businessman to transmit a memo to US leaders.
“Branding me a traitor will not solve any of Pakistan’s myriad problems, not least of which is the prospect of international isolation,” Haqqani wrote, pointing to surveys showing that Pakistan’s image was as low as North Korea’s.
“It is tragic that anti-Americanism is being exploited to push ideological agendas, but I stand by my view that positive US-Pakistan relations under a civilian-led Pakistani government are necessary for international peace and Pakistan’s stability,” he said.
Haqqani denied writing the memo, but said: “Many people around the world would recognise that its contents suggesting changes in Pakistan’s counter-terrorism and nuclear policies reflect reasonable views that are not treasonous and are, in fact, in line with global thinking.”
Haqqani attacked critics who accused him of being too close to the United States, saying: “Few considered that Pakistan was pledged record amounts of US aid and that Pakistani views were being heard on a range of issues.” “The expectation that Washington should simply do whatever the Pakistani hyper-nationalists desire remains unrealistic,” he wrote.
Pakistan’s military has long been the most powerful institution in the country. According to the purported memo, President Asif Ali Zardari — a civilian who is close to Haqqani — feared that the military would seize power to limit the fallout after US forces sneaked in to kill Osama bin Laden.
Lawyers in Pakistan have suggested that the commission’s report could pave the way to put Haqqani on trial for treason, if only in absentia. Haqqani has returned to the United States where he is a professor at Boston University.