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Witch-hunt against democracy in Pakistan

Pakistani diplomat accused over memo claims he is victim of witch-hunt

Husain Haqqani says he fears for his life as hearing begins into allegations he sent memo to US official warning of military coup

By Saeed Shah in Islamabad

The former Pakistani diplomat at the centre of a scandal threatening to bring down the government in Islamabad says he has become embroiled in a “witch-hunt” against democracy in Pakistan.

A judicial commission on Monday began investigating allegations that could lead to treason charges against Husain Haqqani, who resigned as ambassador to Washington following claims he was behind an anonymous memo asking for US support to stave off a military coup in Pakistan.

The case has again drawn battle lines between the civilian government and the military in Pakistan, where the generals have ruled for half its existence. Haqqani, who denies knowledge of the memo, was a key adviser to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Haqqani was summoned to Pakistan in November and has, in effect, been under house arrest since, with his travel abroad banned. He is staying at the heavily guarded official residence of the prime minister in Islamabad, afraid that religious extremists or military agents will kill him if he ventures out. He said he was there for his “personal safety and security“. Last year, militants assassinated two senior officials of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party.

“Some people want to have the right to judge the patriotism of civilians. Some have joined the witch-hunt to keep democracy weak or even get rid of it if they can,” said Haqqani, speaking to the Guardian in a worn-looking sitting room where he receives few visitors.

In Washington, where Haqqani served for nearly four years, he was lauded as one of the best-connected diplomats in town, a smooth-talking, hyperactive defender of Pakistan on American television screens and in the corridors of the US capital. He is credited by some with keeping aid money flowing and relations with the US alive as the alliance between the two countries foundered in recent years over charges that Pakistan was playing a “double-game” by secretly supporting the Taliban.

In Pakistan, however, Haqqani was persistently vilified by the military establishment and the country’s press, painted as an American stooge and a too-clever-by-half strategist for the unpopular Zardari. Many in Pakistan believe it is the president who is the real target of the “memogate” furore, although he insisted over the weekend that he was not going to quit.

Pakistan’s armed forces, used to controlling the relationship with the US, deeply resented Haqqani’s contacts and level of access in Washington. Democracy was restored in Pakistan in 2008, but the government has been shaky, with simmering tension with the military. Haqqani had advocated closer ties to the US and was a strong critic of the army’s role in politics and its policy of supporting jihadist groups, laid out in his 2005 book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military.

“I am being targeted for my views and beliefs on civil-military relations and US-Pakistan ties, not because I did anything wrong,” said Haqqani.

Continue reading Witch-hunt against democracy in Pakistan

A letter to Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton to show deep concern over the safety of former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madame Secretary:

We are writing today to express our deep concern over the safety and well-being of former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani. 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.

Questions have been raised about the manner in which this case is proceeding against Ambassador Haqqani and whether due process of law is being followed. Internationally recognized human rights defender Ms. Asma Jehangir recently quit as Haqqani’s lawyer, citing her lack of confidence in the judicial commission established by the Pakistani Supreme Court to investigate the case. Because of her doubts about the commission’s impartiality, Ms. Jehangir refused to appear before it.

Ms. Jehangir described the Supreme Court decision to admit the memo petitions as a “black chapter” in the judiciary’s history and further noted her concern that Ambassador Haqqani could be picked up by Pakistan’s intelligence services and intimidated, and even possibly tortured, into providing a statement that suits their interests. In this context, the fact that Haqqani was forced to surrender his passport, despite returning to Pakistan voluntarily to face the charges, is particularly troubling.

The case against Haqqani follows an ominous trend in Pakistan. The assassinations of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, and journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad this past year have created a culture of intimidation and fear that is stifling efforts to promote a more tolerant and democratic society. 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.

While we, as individuals, may not have always agreed with Ambassador Haqqani’s views, we regarded him as an effective presenter of Pakistani positions in the Washington context. 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.

With High Regards,

Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, Brookings Institution

Ms. Lisa Curtis, Heritage Foundation

Mr. Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute

Mr. Toby Dalton, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dr. C. Christine Fair, Georgetown University

Dr. Robert M. Hathaway, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Mr. Michael Krepon, Stimson Center

Ambassador Dennis Kux, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Ambassador William B. Milam, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Dr. Aparna Pande, Hudson Institute

Dr. George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Mr. Bruce Riedel, Brookings Institution

Ambassador Howard B. Schaffer, Georgetown University

Ambassador Teresita C. Schaffer, Brookings Institution

Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum, Middle East Institute

cc.

The Honorable U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden

The Honorable U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta

The Honorable U.S. National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon

The Honorable Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency David H. Petraeus

January 7, 2012

Courtesy: http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/282550/letter-to-secretary-of-state-hillary-rodham.pdf

News adopted from Bolta Pakistan Facebook page.