Haqqani in trouble over memo controversy

Hussain Haqqani

With Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani at the centre of a controversy surrounding the ‘secret memo’ allegedly sent by President Asif Ali Zardari to the US administration seeking help against a possible military coup, a proposal is being discussed among the ruling circles here to replace Haqqani with Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.
Pakistani officials privy to Tuesday’s meetings at the Presidency between President Zardari and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the president and US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, as well as those who are following the developments related to the ‘memo’, say that Ambassador Haqqani is in trouble but he is still confident that he will sail through owing to his strong connections in Washington and Islamabad.
Haqqani has decided to stay for some days in Washington after being asked by the government to travel to Islamabad for a briefing on Pakistan-US relations and he is keenly monitoring the evolving situation as he knows that the army leadership has placed him at the centre stage of the memo controversy and his continuation as the Pakistani envoy in Washington is not a desirable option for ‘Rawalpindi’.
“One option that is being discussed in Islamabad among the ruling circles and the military leaders is to replace Ambassador Haqqani by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, who is to retire in March next year,” said an official here on Wednesday, requesting anonymity. However, he hastened to add that it would still be very difficult to state that Haqqani’s days were numbered as he enjoyed strong connections with important people in Washington and they would like him to stay in his office in the current state of relations between Pakistan and the US, which were passing through a critical juncture. Another official here said Ambassador Haqqani was also confident that he would stay as envoy in Washington because of his strong ties to the Presidency. Ambassador Haqqani found himself in the eye of the storm when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz came up with his ‘revelations’ about President Zardari’s alleged endeavours to reach out to the Obama administration to stop the army from a coup in the wake of the US raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2. Ijaz claimed that he was asked to contact the US administration by a senior Pakistani official. He did not name Ambassador Haqqani but the military authorities are said to have concluded that the current Pakistani envoy in Washington was the official who came in contact with Ijaz.
The Presidency and the Foreign Office denied Ijaz’s claims, saying no such memo or letter was sent to the US administration. Ijaz claims he has the copy of letter and all other related material.

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