Conflict & Justice

Husain Haqqani trapped in Pakistan


Pakistan's former ambassador to United States Husain Haqqani (C) gestures as he leaves The High Court Building in Islamabad on January 9, 2012, after recording his statement before the judicial commission probing a secret memo scandal in which Haqqani allegedly approached the US authorities to prevent a possible coup d' etat by the powerful military after the secret US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani, who was forced to resign last month, denied any involvement but the court has already put restrictions on him leaving Pakistan. AFP PHOTO/AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)



Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, is set to testify before Pakistan’s Supreme Court, in connection with a memo drafted after Osama bin Laden’s death, according to The New York Times.

Haqqani resigned from his diplomatic post under mysterious circumstances in Nov. 2011, after the aforementioned memo was brought to light. The letter was written to Admiral Mike Mullen shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed, expressing a fear that Pakistan’s embarrassed military would stage a coup against civilian president, Asif Ali Zardari.

The letter was unsigned, but an American businessman pointed his finger at Haqqani and the Pakistani media ran with the story. While Haqqani and the Pakistani government insisted that they had no connection to the memo, Haqqani was pressured by the military to resign and his passport was confiscated upon his return, according to The Times.

Since his return to Pakistan in November, Haqqani has been practically under house arrest, only moving outside the prime minister’s guest quarters under heavy protection, The Times reported. A former journalist and professor at Boston University, Haqqani fears retaliation stemming from the anti-American sentiment fomenting in Pakistan, as well as retribution from Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

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The Supreme Court panel has a month to rule upon the case involving Haqqani, and depending on its findings, he could face a formal trial and imprisonment.

Haqqani’s fears of violent retaliation are not unfounded as a year ago, on Jan. 4, 2011, Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his own security guard for defending a Christian woman who was sentenced to death under the country’s anti-blasphemy laws. Taseer was an outspoken and prominent figure for Pakistan’s liberal and secular movement.

Ishaan Tharoor at TIME describes the minority, liberal Pakistani mind-set:

They are pro-democracy and anti-military, pro-softening tensions with India and anti-abetting militants like the Taliban, pro-the rule of law and strengthening civil political institutions and anti-conspiracy theories and religious bigotry.

However, the small group of liberals have no place or power while the military holds the reins. Elections in Pakistan are not due until 2013, but Zardari, facing pressure from the military because of the same memo that landed Haqqani in trouble, could call them much sooner, according to the Guardian.

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