Sultan M Hali
HUSSAIN Haqqani is a journalist of Pakistani origin. He is also an academic, political activist and former Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka and the United States. He has authored two books on Pakistan: Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, and Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding. He contributes analyses to various US and Indian Dailies and is currently a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and co-editor of Hudson’s signature journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Unfortunately, for a person whom his country of origin, which gave him so much respect and honour, he chooses to denigrate it in international fora. Appearing regularly on Indian TV Channels to disparage Pakistan for its alleged high handedness in Balochistan, Hussain Haqqani plays to the Indian gallery, giving rise to speculations that he is on Indian security agency RAW’s payroll.
Haqqani worked as a journalist from 1980 to 1988 and then as political adviser for Mian Nawaz Sharif and later as a spokesperson for Benazir Bhutto. From 1992 to 1993 he was Smbassador to Sri Lanka. In 1999, he was exiled following criticism against the government of the then-President General Pervez Musharraf. He was appointed as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US in April 2008, but his tenure ended after the Memogate scandal in which he was accused of not protecting Pakistan’s interests adequately. A Judicial Commission was set up by SC of Pakistan to probe the allegations against him. According to the Commission’s Report which was issued in June 2012, Haqqani was declared guilty of authoring a memo which called for direct US intervention into Pakistan but he absconded.
A long awaited decision from the Supreme Court of Pakistan has finally been announced on ‘Memogate Scandal’, to take steps to bring Hussain Haqqani back to Pakistan within 30 days. He has been playing openly in the hands of Indians. He frequently visits India and attends seminars and conferences, where his only purpose is to deliver anti-Pakistan speeches. He is reportedly the main protagonist behind the SAATH (South Asian Against Terrorism and Human Rights) forum. As a sequel to the SAATH conference held in October 2016, the second annual conference was held in London from October 13-14, 2017. Hussain Haqqani was the chief organizer along with US-based columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi. It was claimed that the gathering had to be arranged, like the one in 2016, away from Pakistan because of the threats to the security of free thinkers in the country. Participants expressed grave concern on Pakistan’s continuing crisis-ridden trajectory, of which the increasing threat of global isolation as a consequence of the continuation and expansion of proxy wars in our neighbourhood holds centre-stage.
There are other equally important areas of worry. The discussion focused on how the pluralist and secular narrative in Pakistan needs to be strengthened as they are under the direct threat of the Islamists and Pakistani Establishment. The agenda appeared to be directed against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pak-China’s interests in the region. Hussain Haqqani, Brahamdagh Bugti, Mehran Mari, Ahmar Masti Khan, Hammal Haider and Banuk Kareema Baloch attended the conference and delivered fiery speeches, some of which gave the impression that they were authored by RAW operatives. The participants opined that the widening circle of repression of critical, dissenting voices to the state’s narrative have led to shrinking space for liberal, secular, progressive ideas and pluralism. They identified threats to democracy and to nationalists in Balochistan, Sind and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In a confession published in “The Washington Post” in March 2017, Hussain Haqqani admitted that he helped the CIA operatives and US Special Forces in getting stationed in Pakistan to ultimately hunt Osama Bin Laden (OBL) in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. He had issued visas to many CIA agents like Raymond Davis to weaken Pakistan. Reportedly, Haqqani also developed secret liaisons with Indo-Israeli lobbies. It is regrettable that some Pakistanis have become part of the US and Indian organized propaganda campaign against their own country. These defectors act as catalysts to play a deleterious role along with enemies of Pakistan. Hussain Haqqani being one of main actors of international conspiracy against Pakistan suits the anti-Pakistan lobbies of West and hence his repatriation is also of paramount importance. He criticises ideological constructs of Pakistan, Pakistani nationalism, its Armed Forces, role of judiciary, so-called Human Rights violations and plight of minorities, Pakistan’s offensive gestures against India.
There is no doubt that Hussain Haqqani is a ‘black sheep’ in the national and international media, who must be brought back to Pakistan to face a trial for his machinations against the State. In this regard, a strong case may be prepared against the absconder by a renowned international lawyer like Ahmer Bilal Soofi to mete justice to the enemy of the state. Since it is perceived that the US is backing him, the case of his repatriation may be included in all the bilateral talks between Pakistan and US. With the general election in Pakistan being round the corner, Hussain Haqqani does not refrain from giving his two cents’ worth on Pakistani media, PEMRA should exercise complete media blackout for him. As an extreme step, his assets in Pakistan should be seized along with freezing his bank accounts, till he is willing to return to Pakistan and face the charges against him.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.