Haqqani is a bad boy!

By Babar Ayaz

Ambassador Husain Haqqani is a bad bad boy! So when he resigned following the disclosure of a non-paper allegedly dictated by him and sent by his nemesis Mansoor Ijaz to Admiral Mullen, his detractors were happy. Haqqani has indeed more enemies at home, than he has friends in the US.

He is bad among the liberals because they cannot forget his student life affiliation of Islami Jamiat-i-Tulba. He is despised by the right wing because he crossed over to PPP in the 90s and since then has been loyal to the party. Nobody is charitable to him allowing for the fact that people do out-grow their initial ideological leanings as they grow old. In his case all Haqqani critics believe that his change of heart is not on intellectual grounds but is only opportunistic for personal reasons.

He is bad for the majority of the journalists who see every colleague who joins the government as an apostate and opportunist. There is also an element middle-class jealousy which is wrapped in the statements that they could have climbed the ladder but for their love of moral and ethical values.

He is bad for the establishment because he wrote “Pakistan – Between Mosque and Military.” This book has indeed exposed the axis of power that has retarded the political and economic growth of the country. It reads like a critique of the establishment’s political history and exploitation of Islamic ideology.

He is bad because the establishment believes he influenced the US Congress and Senate in passing the Kerry-Lugar Bill that linked the military aid to Pakistan with the testimony from the US Secretary of State that military and its intelligence agencies are subservient to the elected civil government. This clause undoubtedly reflects the same thinking which has been quite ably pleaded by Haqqani in his book. Now asking the military establishment to work within the constitution and as subservient to the civil government is a blasphemy in Pakistan. Politicians and media colleagues who are embedded with the establishment loathe this idea. For them it is only the politicians of Pakistan who are corrupt and inefficient. So any move to establish civil government supremacy over our Leviathan is ‘treason’ and ‘anti-Pakistan conspiracy.’

Having said that, from the reported evidence on the dubious ‘Memo’ it seems that Haqqani is not as clever and slick as I thought. Though it is yet to be proven that he dictated the ‘Memo’ a job that cannot be done in just 11 minutes as claimed by US businessman-cum-agent Mansoor Ijaz, the text of the ‘Memo’ is not much different from what would be Haqqani and his ‘boss’ wish list.

To say that action would be taken against the officials responsible for deliberate or inadvertent intelligence failure about Osama’s where about and the breach of security by the US forces on the fateful 2nd May is not wrong. But ideally and theoretically inviting US to assist the civilian government in making changes in the security establishment is indeed reckless and below the dignity of a nation. The out-cry of the media and opposition parties is thus right in principle.

But let’s look at it from the historical Pak-US relations perspective. Isn’t it true that one of the major reasons for removing Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin by Governor-General Ghulam Mohammed was that he (Nazimuddin) had declined Secretary Dulles’s offer to join the Baghdad Pact, which was latter christened as CENTO. PML (N) has filed a case at the already over-burdened Supreme Court that inviting US interference is tantamount to treason. Wasn’t it interference when Shahbaz Sharif had sought US help to behold the commando General Musharraf when it was written on the wall that he was going to oust an elected government? Wasn’t it the US interference when the Kargil adventure of General Musharraf brought defeat to the country and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was rushed to seek US intervention on the 4th of July? So ideally, yes we shouldn’t be inviting the US as done in the ‘Memo’ and offering cooperation, but the reality is that we have a long history of US involvement in Pakistan’s internal affairs and nobody raised the issue that it was treason.

Husain Haqqani was forced to resign because right from day one he was the man representing the elected government’s interests. In Pakistan unfortunately all democratically elected governments have been at odds with the interests of the establishment that lives on war economy. The civil-military power balance has been heavily tilted in favour of the latter since 1954, when a mutual defence pact was signed by Pakistan with the US and Ayub Khan took over as army chief. Everybody knows that foreign policy and national security policy is always decided by the establishment and any attempt by the civilian government to regain its due power is sabotaged by raising hue and cry against the political government. Nawaz Sharif has suffered it, so he should be careful in playing to the tune of the establishment in this case. He is respected for having clear views about civilian government supremacy over the military establishment. But by going to the Supreme Court is going damage his own cause.

Analysing the ‘Memo’ it also appears that Mansoor Ijaz’s thrust is to prove the point that even the Pakistani civilian government thinks that Pakistani establishment is involved covertly in supporting the Afghan Taliban. This point was made by Admiral Mullen in his last appearance before the US senate. So Mansoor has served the US interest by publishing the ‘Memo’ in his Financial Times article. He says he is a loyal American and wants to teach Pakistan a lesson. But the end result is that the Pakistani establishment and media have in the trap set by Mansoor and his American masters. It was a sting operation that bit Haqqani and Pakistan. 

Lastly, the people who called for Haqqani’s resignation, and rightly so, did not show this grace when the country had to face a security and intelligence lapse on 2nd May and again at Mehran base. Nobody asked for the resignations or action against the people who failed the people of Pakistan. Aren’t we selective while demanding accountability? (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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