WASHINGTON: Sixteen US scholars from think tanks in Washington have written to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express concerns over the safety of Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, asking the Obama administration to “make appropriate public statements to ensure that Husain Haqqani is not physically harmed and that due process of law is followed.”
The letter, dated January 7 and co-signed by the academics and experts from various think tanks, states, “It has come to our attention that ambassador Haqqani is under intense pressure in Pakistan, including possibly threats to his life, over the so-called ‘Memogate’ affair.”
The letter also cites concerns raised by Haqqani’s former counsel Asma Jehangir over the Supreme Court’s judicial commission formed to investigate Memogate, including a claim made by Jehangir that the former ambassador “could be picked up by Pakistan’s intelligence services and intimidated, and even possibly tortured, into providing a statement that suits their interests.”
The scholars say that they find it troubling that Haqqani was asked to surrender his passport, and cited examples of the assassinations for governor Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Saleem Shahzad, that they say have created a culture of intimidation and fear that is stifling efforts to promote a more tolerant and democratic society.”
The letter adds, “Significant segments of the Pakistani media have already judged Haqqani to be guilty of treason, which could inspire religious extremists to take the law into their own hands as they did with Taseer and Bhatti.”
Last week, three U.S senators including Senator McCain had also expressed reservations about the treatment of the former Ambassador.
The scholars added, “In keeping with its traditional support for human rights and its deep interest in a firmly democratic Pakistan, the U.S. government should do all it can to ensure Haqqani receives due process without any threat of physical harm. We commend the State Department for its statement on Friday calling for fair and transparent treatment of Ambassador Haqqani in accordance with Pakistani law and international legal standards. We would urge the U.S. government to continue to weigh in with key Pakistani leaders and to make appropriate public statements to ensure that Husain Haqqani is not physically harmed and that due process of law is followed.”
The authors of the letter include writer and academic Dr. Stephen Cohen at the Brookings Institution, former CIA officer and expert Bruce Riedel and former Ambassadors Terseita C Schaffer and Howard B. Schaffer amongst others.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland confirmed to reporters at the daily press briefing that they had received the letter.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2012.
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