A few things come to mind when observing the fallout of Mansoor Ijaz ratting out Hussain Haqqani on the Memo. The first is that PPP’s media strategy or lack therof has reached a crisis point and secondly that few tears are being shed by genuine PPP workers, activists and leaders at the much speculated resignation of Hussain Haqqani.
Allow me to elaborate:
Mr. Haqqani has a tendency to appropriate the credit that was never really his to begin with. Since the beginning, certain journalists have done their best to apportion this government’s sane foreign policy solely to Hussain Haqqani, when in reality, he was simply a decent officer entrusted with executing policies and strategies that were laid out by the late Benazir Bhutto and carried onwards by President Zardari. Many journalists have been cultivated by Hussain Haqqani by (mis)using his station as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. Many of them are known for their rabid hatred of the PPP and for their soft corner for the military establishment.
Unfortunately, a few of them are highly respectable anti-establishment progressives who are likely to suffer now due to their association with Haqqani and their defense of him during the memogate saga. He clearly pointed them in the wrong direction.
In the last four years of this government, many of the HH lobby journalists have done their best to give credit to Hussain Haqqani for ensuring sanity to Pakistan’s foreign policy without realizing that none of it would have been possible without President Zardari. However, the elected president is a man whose hatred by these journalists exceeds any limited objectivity that they might possess. Like others before them, they know that a pathological and vile hatred of PPP leaders will definitely further their material interests in Pakistan.
It is for this reason that they have chosen the path of selective amnesia regarding his Jamaat-e-Islami background and his vicious propaganda against Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Late Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Those two generous ladies, giants for the struggle for democracy in Pakistan, might have forgiven him. PPP workers, however, were always wary of him and his continuing sycophancy with known PPP-hating journos. This has lost him their sympathy forever.
The only thing important to Hussain Haqqani is his own reputation; for example, not once during his tenure has he requested his network of friendly journalists on Twitter to defend President Zardari or Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto – a fact that has not gone unnoticed by PPP writers, activists, bloggers and workers. They are the segment that Hussain Haqqani deemed fit to ignore. Today, none of them are upset at the likely prospect of Hussain Haqqani’s resignation being accepted and someone with a more consistent stance being made the next ambassador.
Hussain Haqqani put his job and reputation above that of the government and the PPP and that is evident from his recent actions. Ever since, Mansoor Ijaz blew the whistle on the memo, Haqqani’s selfishness ensured that he made crucial errors in judgement.
In order to protect his career, he and his lobbyists are presenting him as the only respectable voice of sanity in the entire PPP, presenting him as equivalent to the entire institution of democracy, presenting a nominated diplomat at par with an elected president. The HH lobby writers are presenting Zardari’s fate tied with Haqqani’s fate. For example, message in this pro-Haqqani post at New Pakistan blog is simple: If Haqqani goes, Zardari will go to gallows. Similarly, the gist of Najam Sethi’s editorial in The Friday Timesis : Husain Haqqani = Democracy. If Zardari fires Haqqani, he will weaken his indispensable links with Washington.
For starters, choosing Mansoor Ijaz for delivering sensitive information was a blunder that was committed by Haqqani but whose fallout will have to be borne by the PPP and Zardari as HH will once again shift seamlessly back to being a well paid academic at Boston. Mansoor’s past, especially with respect to his animus against Benazir Bhutto’s second government was common knowledge. Was this the only name that popped up in Husain Haqqani’s vast rolodex?
After Mansoor Ijaz wrote the famous Financial Times article, Haqqani committed his second blunder. He could have then used his vast network of journalists to concentrate on the second aspect of that article instead of using these them to make personal attacks on Mansoor Ijaz and concentrate solely on protecting his (HH’s) reputation. Such a tactless blunder forced Mansoor to expose the full details of the memo.
This whole incident should be an eye opener for the PPP. They have failed to develop an effective media strategy and have been completely let down by Hussain Haqqani’s actions of using the media for his self promotion instead of countering the vicious anti-government and anti-PPP propaganda.
Lately Ambassador Haqqani has issued a number of statements showing his love for army. In the words of Mohammed Hanif “Hussain Haqqani’s interview on Kamran Khan show was scary. Do we now have to say things like ‘my mom is buried in a military graveyard’ to survive here”. Haqqani said his mother is buried in an army graveyard in Pakistan and his father and brother served in the Pakistan Army. He also said: “Fauj se mohabbat aur fauji hakoomat se mohabbat doh alag alag cheezain hoti hain.” We beg to ask how can anyone love an army which has killed thousands of Balochs, Pashtuns, Shias, which has nurtured, trained and protected beasts such as LeT, LeJ, TTP etc? Clearly, Haqqani is not helping his case by posing as army lover and army apologist. He will be easily beaten on this pitch by liberal nationalists and right wingers!
However, HH lobbyists are conveniently rewriting history, including PPP’s history, and twisting facts in their quest to defend and promote Husain Haqqani. For example, read this editorial in Express Tribune which eulogizes his life long struggle against military while ignoring his services to army (via IJI, JI, PML).
Our criticism of HH is different from right wingers who are criticizing him for different reasons (PPP-phobia, army-philia). Our view is also different from urban flatterers who are promoting him because of class and opportunistic reasons.
The Memogate has shown that PPP suffers from wrong advisors in government, in media, on Twitter, everywhere. This does not shed great light on the PPP, and we can only sympathize with President Asif Zardari.
The mishandling of memogate by HH and his lobbyists has caused significant damage to the PPP and caused unnecessary friction or mistrust between security establishment and the PPP govt. This is exactly a situation which right wingers and liberal nationalists (PTI, JI, PML-N, LeT, LeJ) wanted to create, HH and his lobbyists have helped them in creating such a situation.
Contrary to the delusions of urban flatterers, the powerful security establishment cannot be taken head-on, and the only way for the civil-military power balance to improve in the long run is for democracy to prevail and complete several cycles of democratic government.
In our view either Haqqani acted on his own or he gave poor advice to civilian government and poorly implemented a poor advice. A third possibility is that he was entrapped by elements within the security establishment. In any case, his actions have caused disrepute to the PPP and the elected government. If he were sincere to PPP he would have never written that memo and should have given the civilian government good advice.
The PPP’s core problem are these sycophants. Poor advisors have been an issue for PPP all along; HH maybe doing it to get the security post back in Pakistan or some other goal may be in his mind.
May God save PPP from fake liberals, opportunists and vultures.
In the current situation, the best service that Husain Haqani can offer to the PPP is that he should resign and apologize to the nation and the elected government for the mess he has created through the Mansoor Ijaz saga.