- PPP, PML-N’s top leadership have agreed to move on; no further debate would be made on this issue, says a source
- In order to shift media focus from Haqqani’s admissions, PM Nawaz, Asif Zardari had used harsh language against one another
Despite the lapse of almost 20 days since the federal government and the opposition parties agreed to form a parliamentary commission to probe the person behind facilitating the issuance of visas allegedly to the CIA special agents when Husain Haqqani was an ambassador in Washington, there is no progress on the matter.
Well-placed sources in both the political parties insist that both the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which had raised fingers at Haqqani and the accused party—Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) —which had appointed Haqqani as envoy in the US, have reached a quiet understanding to hush up the matter “for good”.
“The top leadership of PPP and PML-N have agreed to move on; no further debate would now be made on this issue. Even the military leadership is also on board,” a well-placed source told this scribe.
The source said that in order to shift media focus from Haqqani’s admissions, under a planned manner, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PPP Chief Asif Zardari had used harsh language against one another, and public rallies had been arranged to paint a pseudo fist-fight.
“Under the plan, Sharif had visited Hyderabad on March 29 to address a public gathering. Similarly, Zardari visited Lahore and hurled threats at Sharifs. These were staged visits just to shift media focus. When prime minister visited Hyderabad, Sindh government had facilitated the trip and when Asif Zardari visited Lahore, Punjab government provided protocol,” the source added.
The debate on Haqqani’s role had started following an op-ed article appeared in the US-based newspaper, Washington Post, on March 10 by Haqqani, who revealed how he had played a key role in allowing US special agents to visit Pakistan and hunt down al-Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden. The matter was taken by Pakistani media and after a hectic debate, the matter was also raised in the parliament.
On March 16, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif had called for a parliamentary commission to investigate claims made by Haqqani.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) had seconded the proposal, while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had also backed the idea, saying that the Memogate Commission’s report should also be made public.
Surprisingly, PPP’s Khurshid Shah had also welcomed the idea, claiming that his party had no problems with the formation of a parliamentary commission, but, he had said that the prime minister should also be present while the probe is conducted.
The commission should also determine who had invited Osama Bin Ladin to Pakistan in the first place, who facilitated him, and who asked him for help, Shah had added.
As if it was not enough, the military also broke its silence on March 29 over the issuance of the visas to CIA special agents by former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani, with the military’s media wing director-general tweeting on social media that Haqqani’s article had “vindicated’ the stance of state institutions over the subject.
“Views of Hussain Haqqani published in a mainstream US newspaper, especially his account of issue of visas vindicate stance of Pakistan state institutions,” the Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor, DG of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) tweeted.
Ghafoor in a subsequent tweet wrote, “The veracity of concerns about his role in the entire issue also stands confirmed.”
GOVT KEEPS MUM, NISAR HINTS NO COMMISSION LIKELY
However, despite the lapse of almost twenty days, there are no signs of the commission’s formation.
Pakistan Today reached out to Minister of State Marriyum Aurangzeb asking her to comment whether the government would form a parliamentary commission to probe the role of Husain Haqqani in the issuance of visas to CIA agents, as decided between treasury and Opposition and proposed by defence minister, the minister said the defence minister could respond over the matter.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said that since Khawaja Asif had raised the proposal of the commission, he could respond to the query. She said that afterwards the NA session had been prorogued so the commission might not have been formed. She added that she tried to contact Khawaja Asif, but could not get through to him. Perhaps he is not in the city, she speculated.
Despite repeated attempts, Khawaja Asif was not available for comments. The PRO for the ministry said that the minister was in his hometown.
When Pakistan Today contacted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shaikh Aftab Ahmed, asking how much progress had been made to form the parliamentary commission, the minister said the Interior Ministry was dealing with the matter.
“The interior ministry had to initiate a summary for the commission’s formation which they did not. I don’t have any further information,” he added.
When contacted, the spokesman of the ministry also said he had no knowledge about any summary.
“I have no information. I can check on Monday,” said Sarfraz Hussain.
On March 29, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had ruled out an investigation into the controversy of issuance of visas to Americans without proper documentation and security clearance by Haqqani in the absence of any record or data.
“There is no record available about the issuance of visas. Who got visas? Who arrived (in the country)?” the minister had said at a news conference.
Terming holding of an investigation into the matter “impossible”, the minister had closed the chapter once and for all.
“Neither the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) nor the interior ministry has any record. The record was not even sent to the then interior minister,” the minister had said.