— PPP sticks to its guns, sees no anomaly in empowering Haqqani for visas to CIA operatives
— Babar seeks thorough probe into visa issuance from 2001
In a new twist to the tale of the issuance of visas to clandestine CIA special agents, new documents have emerged dropping strong hints that the visas were issued to the American spooks despite a warning issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) against the issue of visas to around 36 CIA agents.
An official letter signed by MoFA director-general (Americas) was sent to the Pakistani missions in the United States of America on January 18, 2010, with a list of 36 US citizens attached, with a subject “Visas to CIA officials”.
The letter reads, “Kindly find enclosed a list of 36-US citizens who are believed to be CIA special agents and would be visiting Pakistan for some special task. Kindly do not repeat not issue visas to the same”.
The other document carries a list of 36 US citizens. There was a handwritten note stating, “Three months single entry visa please”. The list was duly signed by an official as well.
PPP ADMITS GILANI’S LETTER, SAYS NOTHING WRONG WITH EMPOWERING HAQQANI TO ISSUE VISAS:
Interestingly, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar admitted the authorisation by the then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani for the issuance of visas to the CIA agents in the year 2010.
“There was nothing new nor wrong in the 2010 letter of PM House to the Foreign Office reported in the media today (Friday). However, its regurgitation at this time is politically motivated and aimed at diverting attention from the real issue,” Babar said in a statement issued here.
“Embassies in important capitals of the world also have representatives of relevant government departments, including security agencies. The ambassador was empowered by the prime minister to issue visas. But it does not mean that due process within the embassy, involving representatives of other relevant departments, was allowed to be circumvented,” he said.
Senator Babar said that the ambassador was empowered to issue visas only to those whose purpose of the visit was clearly defined and duly recommended by the State Department.
“The purpose was to expedite, not bypass, the process. It was also not an authorisation for visas to US Special Operation Forces,” he emphasised.
Farhatullah Babar said that the central question needing answer is how Osama bin Laden (OBL) lived in a cantonment for almost a decade directing global terrorism.
“The central question is not who, following due process, gave visas to some Americans who may have eventually been able to hunt and take OBL out. No amount of verbal jugglery, media circus and mudslinging on the previous PPP government will erase this question from the public mind,” he added.
Babar also demanded a thorough inquiry into visa issuance policies and procedures across the board from 2001 onwards when a global hunt for OBL started.
“Targeting some individuals or a political government for political purposes will not advance national security interests,” he said, adding national security interests will be advanced only by a credible non-partisan probe in the visa policies and procedures across the board and across the time.
“Investigations must also be made into how many Americans entered Pakistan through Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, with or without visas, during the days of General Pervez Musharraf. Such investigations cannot be made through selective leaks or public statements in the media. A starting point can be the Abbottabad Commission probing the OBL fiasco,” he asserted.
Babar said appropriate lessons will only be learnt if the nation knew who issued visas without due process as well as how a global terrorist was in hiding in Pakistan for so long.
“Hunting OBL has always been the official narrative. Making the Abbottabad Commission report public will be in conformity with the narrative. Any other course will not be credible and will be seen as political witch hunting,” he concluded.