Analysis: A sting operation?

Published: November 23, 2011
Haqqani resigns, PM 
orders investigation.

Haqqani resigns, PM orders investigation.

If I know Hussain Haqqani, I don’t think this is curtains for him. I have found him to be a great survivor. However, let me digress a little and recall another incident here to give a context to the ensuing developments.

When Raymond Davis, an American with dubious diplomatic credentials, was caught red-handed killing two Pakistanis in broad daylight in Lahore and then proceeded against under the law of the land, all the three branches of the US government closed ranks and came to his defence with one voice certifying the questionable immunity of a mole known to be a CIA contractor.

Now let us compare this cohesive US response to a decidedly open and shut case with that of Pakistan’s bizarre position in the still to be investigated Memogate case with most of us baying for the blood of an accredited diplomat. What was the need for the hyped-up and well-publicised troika meetings at the presidency? Why was an officer of Gen. Shuja Pasha’s rank sent to London to meet a dubious US character to investigate the matter? And why the thundering silence of the security chiefs on Sunday and Monday following Haqqani’s arrival in Islamabad. All this provided the ‘desired’ grist to the rumour mill that a serious confrontation has developed between the security institutions and the political government adding to the fears of an impending covert or overt army takeover. Inspired perhaps by Mansoor Ijaz’s claim that the ISI chief after their meeting in London had fallen for his story hook, line and sinker, the ‘ghairat brigade’ in the establishment and the media was back in action in full force. The brigade appears convinced that Haqqani has compromised Pakistan’s ‘ghairat’ by requesting through a still to be verified memo delivered by a US citizen to a retiring US military general to allegedly help the civilian government in cutting the army and ISI to size and bringing our nuclear assets under the ‘protective custody’ of Washington.

I am no admirer of Mr. Haqqani’s modus operandi. And notwithstanding some of his sterling achievements in his career I think our relations with Washington tumbled down to the very bottom during his three-year tenure. I know him since the days when as a youthful journalist he had become very close to the then military dictator, Gen. Ziaul Haq. His political flip-flops are legendary. As a member of the Islami Jamiat-i-Tulba (student wing of Jamat-i-Islami), he was elected as the president of Karachi University’s student union in 1979-80.  After Gen. Zia’s demise he first joined forces with Nawaz, before switching over to Benazir Bhutto.

After her second ouster, he is said to have applied for the top information job in the Musharraf regime. Having been rebuffed by one of the dictator’s minions, he set sail for the US, where he made it really good for himself and made his services available to Ms. Bhutto and her spouse for developing contacts in Washington and networking with the top US leadership. He was therefore, a natural choice of the government for the ambassadorial job in the US when the PPP-led coalition came to power after the 2008 elections.

But I was intrigued because in his book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military he had said things about the army which I thought the institution would find impossible to forget and forgive. So, I asked him when I met him in London soon after he was nominated for the job. He did not deny resistance from powerful circles back in Rawalpindi to his appointment but declared in his typical nonchalant manner that he could take care of the challenges on this front.

I have never written about Mr. Haqqani either critically or in praise, though I have been one of his bitter critics to his face. But to his credit, he has always taken my criticism with his characteristic poise and never failed to greet me with extra warmth whenever we met. But I always found it difficult to match his warmth half suspecting his sincerity.

Still, I don’t think the former ambassador deserved the kind of treatment that has been meted out to him by the ‘ghairat brigade’ within our establishment and the media. Even if all the allegations that are being levelled against him by an ordinary US citizen are true I would have preferred to send Gen. Pahsa to Washington to meet Haqqani or awaited his return to Pakistan to get his version first rather than make the spy chief go all the way to London to meet Ijaz who according to Mr. Bruce Riedal, former CIA officer has a “long record of fabricating false information and self promotion”. This very act of Gen. Pasha has by default given a measure of respectability to Ijaz’s version of the episode and made Mr. Haqqani’s position suspect in the eyes of unsuspecting masses.

Such matters should never be the concern of the security establishment in the first place. They are better left to the civilian government to sort out. And the ‘ghairat brigade’ needs to stop frothing at the mouth and stop crying wolf at the drop of a hat.

(Read: Demystifying memogate)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Pakistani
    Nov 23, 2011 - 5:51AM

    It was a sting operation….from AZ & HH….against the state, its army, our nuclear assets….we pakistanis want a civilian set up to lead the country and are against army intervention in politics… but there is too much here to be put under the carpet saying the man has views against the role of army in civilian affairs…so he can take a solo flight what he thinks it correct.


  • Pundit
    Nov 23, 2011 - 6:02AM

    In my view Pakistan by disgracing its own Ambassador has disgraced itself/

    What a pity!


  • Nov 23, 2011 - 6:08AM

    My short commet is, Hussain Haqqani is another SAHEED of this period.


  • Proud Baloch
    Nov 23, 2011 - 6:27AM

    Why do you feel the need to write in every news article my Indian friend. Don’t you have any thing else to do. Please leave us. Thank you!!


  • Karachite
    Nov 23, 2011 - 6:55AM

    This is the best commentary on the issue I have seen till date.


  • Kamil Bangash
    Nov 23, 2011 - 7:12AM

    Although I never liked Mr. Haqqani, I totally agree with the observations of Muhammad Ziauddin. A well balanced article. Thanks.


  • Adeel759
    Nov 23, 2011 - 7:16AM

    Now, would they recommend each other for Nishan-E-Haider.


  • someone
    Nov 23, 2011 - 7:34AM

    Mr Ziadudin. I disagree with you thoughts. I am not a supporter of establishments but I have great concern on the way the civil government has reacted on this matter. I think this issue is started one month before but we didn’t see any response from the civil government on this matter. First they ignored it but when the media started highlighting the issue the establishment had to come on front to handle this issue. And whats wrong is here if Shuja mate with the mansoor ijaz first, because he has to check the evidence against Haqqani.

  • Imran
    Nov 23, 2011 - 7:43AM

    A game is all this is… ISI wants Imran ,MQM and Q League…


  • Starved for truth
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:11AM

    Spot on! This writer is good and bold. Thanks ET.


  • H.A. Khan
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:17AM

    Good article!

    Hussain Haqqani crossed the red line of diplomacy and worked against his own country.
    He could not have initiated this article on his own……let the person who OKed the text also be charged with high treason. Let their be a open trial and people of the country know how they are being let down at highest level


  • Enlightened
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:25AM

    So, he resigns and he walks free? Is that the deal? If he is guilty he should be put behind bars…


  • ihtisham
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:25AM

    @Imran: Why r u bringing imran in this matter. Did imran tell the govt. to write a memo. Despite all the differences with the Govt, Imran has said it on the record on a no of occasions that PTI will support the govt in case of an army quo & will strictly oppose the army rule. Imran does not need the support of the army, he has got the support of 180 million pakistanis.


  • Sadia
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:42AM

    It’s not about the Ghairat Brigade as the writer makes it out to be. It’s also not about Haqqani being treated fairly or not. As a player the ex ambassador knew the risks involved in being the presidant’s man in Washington. In the great game once the ball gets rolling it has to reach some destination whether it was the intended destination or some other. If the conspiracy theorist are to be believed and this was some kind of a sting operation to get Zardari then he very cleverly has sacrificed his bishop to save the king. It remains to be seen if in the coming days this sacrifice would be enough to save his neck or not.


    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:57AM

    I would like to point it out that ISI is one of the most respected and feared spy agencies in the world and it is headed by a Gen Pasha .The very fact that he travelled to meet ijaz shows us the importance and the sensitivity of the matter.This is the same Gen who in one of the high profile meeting with a top Usa security official had the guts to say that ‘His boss is ALLAH and not America.” He knows damn well how to deal with a matter concerning our national security.There is really something fishy about the memo and every effort should be made to take it to its logical end .let us all wait patiently until the truth is out .Recommend

  • Pundit
    Nov 23, 2011 - 9:32AM

    @Proud Baloch:
    Pls react to the content of what I write and not to the frequency of my writing.
    Thats what an educated person would do.

    Otherwise pls clsoe your eyes when u see my writing.


  • Rafi
    Nov 23, 2011 - 9:44AM

    Mr Ziauddin, please tell us how you manage to hold any faith in this civilian government. Recommend

  • Asif
    Nov 23, 2011 - 9:56AM

    let it be no joke, 3 year extension of Kayani is not enough for him. He has tasted power with Musharaf. It was Gen Kayani behind Musharaf that helped Musharaf rule. Now the military gang wants to undermine the democracy once again.

    Bur our problem is two fold. The civilian government has not show their mettle too.


  • Khan
    Nov 23, 2011 - 10:49AM

    The people of Pakistan just want a fair trial.


  • Saira Maryum
    Nov 23, 2011 - 10:58AM

    To me it should not be a drop scene, haqqai’s resign is not an issue what important is the STORY behind all this …So an open trial should be taken place to analyse the credibility of the controversy and I am sure soon we will come to know that haqqani is just a scapegoat ,,, mastermind of this drama is someone else!!!


  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 23, 2011 - 11:20AM

    @ Pundit

    We can send Haqqani to India where you can give him the highest Indian medal and make him a hero in the next bollywood flick against Pakistan.
    As i always say, Indians are obsessed with Pakistan – this is the main impediment in Pak-India friendly relations and your case is a true example of this unending obsession. Recommend

  • Err
    Nov 23, 2011 - 11:26AM

    Sting operation or not – The man got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. It’s like carrying out a sting operation against a drug dealer and then blaming the DEA/Narcotics Force for carrying out the sting operation.


  • Bilal
    Nov 23, 2011 - 12:03PM

    Main issue is…..Army…what they decide or think…its absolute ….No one can challenge Army…!


  • Zaman khan
    Nov 23, 2011 - 1:33PM

    What about the role of H H in KL bill? What about his issuance of thousand visas to USRecommend

  • Ishrat Salim
    Nov 23, 2011 - 2:28PM

    Reply to @ Zaman Khan….spot on….& Raymond Davis case was to expose these unsolicited operatives….KL bill was also something which the Army will never forget….& read his book if you all commenting guys can get time -off before you all comment….we hv very shallow memory….because we are a very emotional nation….
    HH is a fall guy….he had to be sacrificed to save the govt from domino effect…..Recommend

  • salma Tahir
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:31PM

    Hussain Haqqani’s resignation proves that he does not want to hurt the democratic process and be in the way of elected govt. Gen Mush wanted to be buried in his uniform and post, so this resignation is novel for Pakistani people. If the establishment thinks that they have seen the last of Hussain Haqqani, they are sadly mistaken. Hussain Haqqani would be a voice for the people of Pakistan and democracy in the USA as well as Pakistan. If anything, the resignation would enhance his reputation in the world media.


  • You Said It
    Nov 24, 2011 - 2:32AM

    Mansoor Ijaz sharing the evidence with Gen Pasha of the ISI makes Ijaz’s motives suspect. Was this done because Ijaz was already close to the ISI? Did Gen Pasha’s visit sway his position and motive?


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Nov 24, 2011 - 8:46PM

    Of course no one knows whether he resigned or was asked to resign.

    But he did offer to resign even before he reached Pakistan — if I am not mistaken.

    As for this article, it is excellent.


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