Recent rumours that Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani is being replaced are harming Pakistan’s interests. At a time when Pakistan is literally under attack by enemies both foreign and domestic, responsible journalists and political figures from all parties should unite to support the best interests of the nation and defend those, like Mr. Haqqani, who have devoted their lives to supporting a strong, free, independent Pakistan.
Opposition parties may think they have an easy target in Mr. Haqqani as he is presently abroad and not someone with whom they have to make regular meetings in Parliament. But Mr. Haqqani plays a vital role for Pakistan, and spreading rumours designed to diminish his authority harm Pakistan in substantial ways.
Regardless of one’s concerns about language in the Kerry-Lugar bill, it remains that it is vital for Pakistan to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with the the United States, currently the world’s superpower. After years of mistrust and double-dealing between the two countries under former President Musharraf, the past year has seen a dramatic turnaround in relations between the two powers. Do we really want, as relations are warming and the US is extending an unprecedented offering of partnership, to replace the most effective voice for a strong and democratic Pakistan?
Despite the rhetoric of some opposition journalists and politicians, Mr. Haqqani did not write the Kerry-Lugar bill. Anyone familiar with the democratic process knows this is the case. As further evidence, I invite you to refer to the current internal debates in the US about health care and economic stimulus. Both of these issues are well documented to involve contentious debates, and bills introduced in the US Congress include language not favored by President Obama. Do these opposition journalists really expect Mr. Haqqani to exert more influence over the US Congress more than President Barack Obama?
As it stands, Mr. Haqqani has very explicitly denounced these rumours of his replacement, noting that he has “not been asked to alter [his] responsibilites nor have any questions been raised about [his] conduct.” Ironically, Mr. Haqqani was asked to comment on the rumours while he was in Texas attending a ceremony to mark the delivery of 18 F-16 fighters to Pakistan. The day before Mr. Haqqani was in Texas with Pakistan’s new fleet of fighter jets, he was defending Pakistan’s sovereignty and democratic intentions on Fareed Zakaria’s show “GPS” on the CNN news network. Why would anyone in their right mind replace a representative for Pakistan who works so tirelessly, who has achieved so much?
In barely one and a half years, Mr. Haqqani has changed the nature of the US-Pakistan relationship from one of mutual suspicion to one of partnership and cooperation. His tireless work has significantly increased the availability of defense technology to Pakistan’s military, and created a vast new capacity for non-military investment in Pakistan’s health, education, and energy sectors. Who among these opposition voices calling for his removal have done half as much for Pakistan?
Opposition journalists and politicians must put their political aspirations aside when it comes to the best interests of the nation. They must call off the rumour dogs and instead devote their time, as Mr. Haqqani has done, to tirelessly working for the best interests of the nation.