Why US support for sacked Pakistan ambassador is a double-edged sword
The former Pakistani ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, embroiled in a political scandal and government power struggle that have him under virtual house arrest in Islamabad, might normally find comfort in the letters of support that prominent South Asia scholars and some members of Congress have written on his behalf.
Usually in cases involving a declared “strategic partner” that has received billions of dollars in US assistance, the kind of gentle warning the State Department issued to Pakistan last week that it is “watching and monitoring the situation closely” would be a boon to the individual in question.
But so poisoned are US-Pakistan relations, so unpopular and suspect is the US in Pakistan, that Mr. Haqqani’s connections to - and shows of support from - the US may if anything be working against him.
Haqqani was Pakistan’s well-viewed ambassador to Washington until November, when he was recalled to Islamabad over a letter the US government received purportedly seeking Washington’s help in reining in Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence apparatus. (Ambassador Haqqani was featured at a Monitor-hosted breakfast, at which he gave a spirited defense of his country’s dealings with the US, the day he was summoned back to Islamabad.)
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Haqqani, who is also a journalist and a former professor of international relations at Boston University, denied any role in the letter. But the uproar around the letter has evolved into what in Pakistan is called “memo-gate,” one of several political scandals under investigation by the Pakistani Supreme Court. Together they are threatening to bring down the country’s beleaguered civilian government.
In the meantime, Haqqani’s passport has been seized and he is not permitted to leave Islamabad, even though his wife remains in Washington.