Pakistan’s US envoy caught in controversy
ISLAMABAD / KABUL
Haqqani (L) talks with former US Pakistan, representative Richard Holbrooke. AP photo
The Pakistani government said Nov. 17 that it has not decided whether to accept a resignation offer from its ambassador to the U.S. over a reported attempt to enlist Washington’s help to rein in the country’s military after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
The government has summoned Ambassador Husain Haqqani to Islamabad to question him about any role he may have played in the growing controversy, which was first disclosed in an Oct. 10 column in the Financial Times, said Farhatullah Babar, a Pakistani presidential spokesman.
Mansoor Ijaz, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin, said in the column that a senior Pakistani diplomat asked him on May 9, a week after U.S. commandos killed bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town, to pass a message from President Asif Ali Zardari to the U.S. asking for help. Ijaz did not name the diplomat.
Zardari was reportedly worried that the U.S. raid had so humiliated his government, which did not know about it beforehand, that the military may stage a coup, something that has happened repeatedly in Pakistan’s history, said Ijaz.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry has called the Financial Times column “a total fabrication.” But Mullen’s spokesman, Capt. John Kirby, confirmed to Foreign Policy’s website that Mullen did receive the memo from Ijaz, but he did not find it credible and ignored it.
Haqqani said Nov. 17 that he did not write or deliver the memo, but offered his resignation to end the controversy. “I do not want this non-issue of an insignificant memo written by a private individual and not considered credible by its lone recipient to undermine democracy,” Haqqani said. Haqqani is expected to travel to Islamabad in the next few days so that the government can determine who should be blamed for the incident, Babar said.
Meanwhile, two British soldiers were killed Nov. 17 when a roadside bomb hit their armored vehicle in southern Afghanistan and a roadside bomb has killed four children and wounded six in eastern Afghanistan.