Husain Haqqani Controversy: The Real Cover Up

cover upThe latest controversy surrounding Husain Haqqani continues to grow as different parties try to score some political points. Whether it is PMLN trying to solidify its power, or PPP’s unseemly willingness to turn on one of its own, everyone knows that piling on someone who has openly criticised the Army’s policies towards militants is a low risk proposition. The reality is that this latest episode is nothing but a repeat of past dramas, and like those too nothing will come of it except distracting from the actual problems facing the nation.

As it has already been pointed out, there is not any new information in Haqqani’s latest article. There was never a denial that he issued visas to Americans working for the US government, but as already explained in his statement to the Abbottabad Commission that no unauthorised visas were issued to Americans agents while he was Ambassador. This brings up an important point: There has already been a commission to investigate these claims, and it has already produced a report! However, as always, it has been kept secret from the people opening the door to conspiracy theories and confusion. If there is some great concern over Haqqani’s article, the obvious answer is to follow advice of Justice Javed Iqbal, who headed the Abbottabad Commission and publish the complete report so the people can know the actual findings.

This raises another important point: While we have already had a commission investigate Abbottabad raid, nothing has been done to investigate and explain any of the following:

This is only a partial list of unanswered questions that the state has shown no interest in investigating. Do we have nothing better to do than try to interpret and decode hidden messages in Husain Haqqani’s writings?

In Husain Haqqani’s latest article he gave the example of passing messages between US officials and Pakistan officials. As was obvious to anyone who can read, he was explaining that this is the job of a diplomat – to pass messages back and forth. Nowhere does he say that he issued any unauthorised visas, and no one has shown any evidence that he did. Does the state really want to push things to the limit that records of every visa and who authorised them (including military personnel) are leaked to the public?

The obvious next step is not to constitute a new commission but to release to the public the report already compiled by Abbottabad Commission and once again face the inevitable questions about how Osama bin Laden was able to enter Pakistan and live next door to PMA Kakul without ever being noticed by our own agencies. Next we can answer questions about why officials continue to accuse civilians of treason for any contacts with CIA when it is well known that most cooperation was with Army and ISI agents and not civilians. Most importantly, though, we must stop allowing this pathetic political point scoring to continue as cover up for the lies and failures of state policy that continue to plague our nation and cause the deaths of hundreds of innocents.

Foreign Policy: Everything is fine

Pakistan Foreign PolicyYesterday I predicted that the state was still unwilling to do the needful to fix our current foreign policy that has increasingly moved the country into global isolation. How could I have known that I would  be proven correct only 24 hours later? According to Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan is not only not isolated, but our foreign policy is a ‘monumental‘ success!

To prove his point, PM’s Foreign Advisor listed several achievements of the foreign policy. These include CPEC and Pak-China ties (listed separately, as if they are two different things) and resumption of dialogue with US (really? US ties are a success???). However the best example given by far is “exporting labor to Middle Eastern countries”.

Abandoned laborers in Saudi

Yes, our leadership believes that their ‘monumental’ success is demonstrated by Pakistani laborers in Middle Eastern kingdoms.

Islamabad said 8,520 of its nationals in Saudi Arabia had not been receiving their salaries for several months. A foreign ministry statement said “most of the workers want to leave these companies but only after settling their dues.”

Exporting our people to work under slavery conditions is not a success of foreign policy, it is a failure of economic AND foreign policy. In other words, even our ‘monumental’ successes are actually failures. But as usual we are not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

Nawaz urged envoys to promote a positive image of Pakistan to other countries, saying the responsibility to introduce Pakistan as an emerging market rests with ambassadors, who should take up the promotion of foreign investment in Pakistan as their mission.

This is actually our foreign policy: Just keep repeating what we want to be true, no matter how ridiculous we look, and keep hoping that someday it will actually come true.

Isolation and Foreign Policy Paralysis

Narendra Modi  Xi JinpingPakistan’s unfortunate state of growing international isolation is one of the hottest topics of discussion lately. Think tanks and talk shows increasingly point to various issues such as the power of the Indian lobby compared to our own lack of lobbyists in major capitals, absence of a Foreign Minister, and the increasing role of the Army in controlling every aspect of decision making. While this is a new topic for mainstream analysts, those on the cutting edge have been trying to warn of this problem for years. Now, it is reported that the Foreign Office is trying to do something about the crisis. However, is there really any change in the works, or is it more of the same? Reports are not encouraging.

While the envoys and the Foreign Office top brass brainstorm on the problems and strategy for climbing out of isolation, it is likely that fundamental issues causing paralysis in foreign policy functioning — the absence of a full-time foreign minister, duality at the top in the FO hierarchy, diminished role of the foreign secretary, and the military’s involvement in decision making and implementation — will not be discussed, Dawn earlier reported.

We have finally come to a point that we can no longer deny our growing isolation, but fundamental issues are still off limits. What is most concerning though is that the fundamental issues which are off limits do not even include the truly fundamental questions of revising failed policies themselves.

We have reached a historic point that at least there are mainstream voices willing to admit what has been obvious since long: Our foreign policy apparatus has failed to protect or advance Pakistan’s interests. Unfortunately, it seems that we are still unwilling to do the needful to fix it.

State Still Protecting ‘Good’ Taliban? Did They Ever Stop…

Sartaj Aziz recent statements warning about ‘blowback‘ if the state tries to tackle militancy in Pakistan gave an uncomfortable feeling of ‘deja vu’. Analysts have responded asking whether this is a return to the old policy of fighting ‘bad’ Taliban while protecting ‘good’ Taliban. Is there really any question about this?

Here is ‘Good Taliban’ after recent militant attack in Kashmir

And here is the state’s response to their attack

And here is Karachi, which is supposedly under heavy operation by Pakistan security forces

Militants from ‘banned’ Jaish-e-Mohammad openly fundraising for jihad right under Rangers noses and we are supposed to believe that there is no policy of protecting ‘Good’ Taliban?

The only thing wrong with the question about whether there is a return to the state’s policy of ‘Good’ Taliban ‘Bad’ Taliban is that for a ‘return’ one has to actually leave. The state has never given up on the jihadi proxies, and the blowback that has cost 60,000 innocent lives. But this is a small price to pay for our leaders ‘living the dream’.

DHA

The blame game

Not my fault

Pakistan faces severe threats and challenges and we have suffered more than anyone in the world. This we are reminded of often. This week we have also been reminded of the second part of our national identity which is that we are not responsible for any of our problems. We are only the helpless victims.

Yesterday PM’s Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz accused former Ambassador Husain Haqqani of being responsible for failure of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts. This is not the first time that a government official has given this excuse as Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has also blamed Husain Haqqani for his own failure to secure F-16s.

This may be a national emergency. If the entire diplomatic corps including even Gen. Raheel’s ceremonious efforts can be completely undone by a single person sitting in a think tank, what hope have we of ever overcoming our troubles? Is all of Pakistan unable to overcome one man?

Today we are also reminded that Pakistan has been abandoned by the whole world to face terrorists on our own. This was declared by no less than Army spokesman DG-ISPR Gen Asim Bajwa. However, this statement left many scratching their heads in confusion. Didn’t the US give Pakistan Army billions? Didn’t the US kill TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, capture TTP commander Latifullah Mehsud and hand him over to Pakistan Army? Isn’t US still funding Pakistan Army?

It is true that Pakistan is facing a declining relationship with historic allies including the US. However facts are facts and it is simply too much to say that we have been ‘abandoned’ yet. It is also unrealistic to blame a scholar for all of our problems. So why are we facing such a difficult time, and if we are not exactly ‘abandoned’, why are we becoming more isolated? Ironically, the answer may have been given by Husain Haqqani himself:

“Pakistan’s difficulties in the US were the result of years of supporting ‘jihadis’ and making excuses that are having less and less effect on Americans. Moreover, Pakistan’s dependence on US aid made it susceptible to changes in the US national mood and attitude,” elaborated Haqqani in the statement released.

Our top leaders, especially those at the level of Minister and General, need to give an honest assessment of our situation and take responsibility for putting the nation back on the right path. Blaming others and playing helpless victim will fix nothing. We need real leadership that is willing to speak the truth and take necessary action.