ISLAMABAD: If Tuesday’s meeting between the army chief and president didn’t create enough buzz, there was another meeting on Wednesday – this time with the prime minister also in attendance.
The ‘second round’ of talks took place as reports surfaced that Pakistan’s ambassador to US was not flying back immediately after being ‘summoned’ by President Asif Ali Zardari.
Though the official stance is that Ambassador Hussain Haqqani was being called to deliver a briefing to the country’s leadership on Pak-US ties, his summoning came as talk intensified of a purported secret communication between the civilian government and the US administration. The unnamed official who is said to have facilitated the alleged communication, which is said to have been a plea to the US to help reign in the military establishment, is widely regarded to be Ambassador Haqqani.
Unconfirmed reports early Thursday suggested that Ambassador Hussain Haqqani had offered to resign to end the stand off between the civil and military leaderships.
Diplomatic sources said that Haqqani has no immediate plans to travel to Islamabad.
Instead, he is making hectic efforts to reach out to concerned US officials in Washington in a bid to preempt possible move for his ouster, sources added. Haqqani is known to have maintained close links with key American officials – purportedly one of the main reasons for the failure of past efforts to replace him.
When approached, Embassy spokesperson Imran Ghardezi said the Ambassador had received the intimation from Islamabad on Wednesday.
However, he did not give any dates when Haqqani would travel.
“His travel plan is being finalised,” the spokesperson added but attempted to dispel the impression that he was summoned in connection with the alleged letter.
A military official, meanwhile, confirmed that army had expressed serious concerns over the issue and General Kayani raised this matter with the government.
The security establishment reportedly had already been seeking the removal of Haqqani due to his controversial track record. It is said that the army is pushing the government to appoint Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir as new Ambassador to Washington.
The foreign ministry spokesperson, when contacted, refused to comment on the development.
Separately, however, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said there was no conflict of opinion between the politicians and military hierarchy and Haqqani was asked to come and brief leaders here about the Pak-US relations as is ‘routine’.
Awan strongly denied reports of Haqqani being asked to resign to meet the military’s demand. “The military is very much on the same page with the government,” she said in response to a question on General Kayani not being happy about the alleged letter.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2011.