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Thursday, 24 November 2011

US avoids specific comments on Haqqani

WASHINGTON - While the the US government refrained from make specific comments on the so-called ?memogate?, an article published by a US news service Tuesday accused Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman at the centre of the scandal, of attempting to subvert Pakistan?s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani.
?Ijaz? behaviour suggests that he is either an epically erratic operator or someone who from the outset was attempting to subvert Haqqani,? wrote Jeffrey Goldberg, a Bloomberg View columnist and a national correspondent for the Atlantic.
Questioned on Monday about the affair, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nucland said, ?I don?t have anything to say on this specific issue. Our understanding is that Ambassador Haqqani is home on consultation. So I would refer you to the Pakistani government with regard to his consultations and what he is specifically up to.
?You know, we always expect that Pakistan?s leaders will act in accordance with Pakistan?s constitution and in a manner respectful of its democratic institutions. So beyond that, I don?t have any specific comments on this issue.?
In his article, columnist Goldberg also accused Pakistan?s ISI of attempting to subvert democracy ?as opposed to, say, winning wars against India, or helping the U.S. defeat the Haqqani terrorist network in Afghanistan?.
Goldberg wrote, ?Haqqani (no relation to the Haqqanis of terrorism fame) has long been known as a pro-democracy activist and a critic of the army?s meddling in Pakistan?s civilian affairs. As a scholar (he was a professor at Boston University before taking his current post), he wrote the definitive book on the Pakistani military?s unholy alliance with jihadists, ?Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military.?
About Mansoor Ijaz, the article said, he ?keeps turning up in the most unlikely places. In the 1990s, he has said, he was involved in discussions in which the Sudanese government offered to deliver Osama bin Laden to justice, a claim denied by Clinton administration officials. In 2006, he suggested that he knew of evidence that Iran had already produced a nuclear weapon.
?But the ISI apparently sees him as very credible. And they found in his op-ed a chance to move against Haqqani. The spy agency quickly fomented an anti-Haqqani campaign among the more pliant of Pakistan?s newspapers (the ISI is also known to keep journalists directly on its payroll), and Zardari was forced to recall Haqqani to Islamabad. Haqqani denies drafting the memo, and has already offered to resign, in order to protect Pakistan?s civilian president.?
Goldberg said that during his recent e-mail exchanges with Haqqani, the Pakistani envoy ?raised some obvious questions about Ijaz and his motivations. Ijaz says he is a critic of the ISI and claims to be opposed to military rule in Pakistan. Yet, according to reports in the Pakistani press, he recently met with General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of the ISI, and turned over his BlackBerry...
?It?s not at all clear how this scandal will end, but if it results in Haqqani?s removal as ambassador, it would be a minor tragedy for an already tragic country. Military rule has brought Pakistan nothing but violence, stagnation and political repression.?

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