Cross-posted from Pakistan Blogzine
This is not a definitive post, however, there are some indications to suggest that at least some USA officials were, to some extent, on board with Pakistan army in trapping and ultimately deseating Ambassador Husain Haqqani in the memogate scandal.
Admiral Mullen initially denied the existence of any memo, only to miraculously find a copy a week later. Why did Mullen first deny and then remember the memo? Was the memory trick to gain something from Pakistan army and repair relations – perhaps by agreeing on person equally acceptable to the USA and the Deep State? Similarly, Najam Sethi’s (a joint friend of Pakistan army and CIA) meeting with James Jones (the intermediary between Mansoor Ijaz and Mullen) too cannot be taken as merely coincidental.
It seems that Americans were convinced by the Deep State that because of his anti-military book and statements, Hussain Haqqani did not represent his principals (i.e., the Deep State), hence any dialogues through him (particularly about the possible exit strategy on Afghanistan) were suffering from trust deficit and substance. The Deep State and USA wanted to speak directly through an intermediary trusted by Pakistan army. Sherry Rehman fit the bill particularly in view of her pro-establishment work as the chairperson of the Jinnah Institute, a position which will soon be occupied by Ejaz Haider, a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi apologist.
After a brief and half-hearted support to nascent democracy in Pakistan, US foreign policy has reverted back to supporting military establishment. This is because of the growing influence of the Saudi-Muslim Brotherhood lobby in the White House. This is evident in the way the US has supported the pro-Islamist fake revolutions in Libya, Egypt and also by suppressing pro-democracy movements in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain.
I provide below some extracts from newspaper reports and analyses which highlight the complexity of the entire episode:
Sherry Rehman: jointly nominated by Pakistan army and US?
She has not been as critical of the military establishment like her predecessor. In fact, recently the Jinnah Institute, which she headed, released a report detailing Pakistan’s concerns on the Afghan endgame. The findings of the report seem to have endorsed the views of the security establishment on the issue.
A security official also confirmed that the military had no issues with the government’s choice for the country’s next envoy to Washington. “We had a very good working relationship with her (Sherry Rehman) when she was the information minister,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
Because of her apparent acceptability in quarters that matter, Rehman was also the front-runner for the slot of foreign minister following the resignation of Shah Mahmood Qureshi over the Raymond Davis controversy earlier this year. But her name was dropped in view of death threats that she faces from militant groups over her stance on the blasphemy laws. Sources said that Rehman was herself interested in a foreign job because of her personal safety and security.
But there are speculations that President Asif Ali Zardari may not be on board over her appointment. She developed differences with the president in 2009 over his attempts to block private TV channels critical to his policies. She later resigned as the information minister, citing this as a reason, and remained low profile for some time. It is being said that she was the choice of the prime minister and the military.
Kamran Yousaf – Surprise appointment: ‘Consensus candidate’ Sherry Rehman new ambassador to US
Pakistan army had been cultivating Sherry Rehman?
Pakistan’s generals have “taken it for granted that relations with America is their cup of tea, but Mr. Haqqani continued to interfere and overstretched himself,” said Muhammad Ziauddin, the executive editor of The Express Tribune, an English-language daily in Karachi.
In the new ambassador, Sherry Rehman, the generals get a longtime Pakistani politician who knows the United States — she studied at Smith College in Massachusetts — and broadly shares their views on the country’s biggest foreign policy and national security challenges: the need to be treated as an equal in the fraught alliance with the United States and the necessity of securing Pakistani interests in neighboring Afghanistan as the American withdrawal there picks up pace.
“The military had been cultivating her” since she stepped down as information minister in 2009 over differences with President Zardari, Mr. Ziauddin said.
At the same time, Ms. Rehman, a lawmaker from the governing Pakistan Peoples Party, has strong relationships with Pakistan’s political elite. She remains on good terms with Mr. Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who never warmed to Mr. Haqqani.
American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be seen as meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs, said they hoped Ms. Rehman’s range of contacts within Pakistan’s military and its government and among rights groups could potentially make her a more effective interlocutor than her predecessor, who was very much seen as Mr. Zardari’s man, although he did argue the military’s case when needed.
But experts in Pakistan and the United States cautioned that American officials should not view Ms. Rehman’s social liberalism, which is common among Pakistan’s elite, as a sign that she will fall in line with Washington’s views on what is best for Pakistan.
“Folks in Washington will expect her national security agenda to be as liberal as her domestic agenda,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, a South Asia analyst at the Eurasia Group who previously served as the director for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the National Security Council. “She’s coming here to represent the government, and that includes the military,” Ms. Chaudhary said.
Mr. Haqqani, in contrast, at times behaved as “a one-man think tank,” said one American official. The ambassador would often privately voice criticism of the military that he had publicly laid out before taking on his role, the official said.
Mr. Haqqani’s eagerness to share his own views, which often dovetailed American criticisms of Pakistan’s military and its longstanding ties to militant groups, had over the past year led to a diminishing of his influence in Washington, especially in the White House, said a pair of American officials. “There were questions about his influence at home and whether he could be trusted to accurately convey what his principals were thinking,” said one of the American officials.
But Mr. Haqqani’s views were no secret — he laid them out in his 2005 book, “Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military,” which explored links between the military and militant groups, many of which are currently fighting in Afghanistan. The book was written when Mr. Haqqani was a professor at Boston University.
The controversy over a memo in which Mr. Haqqani allegedly asked for American help in curtailing the power of Pakistan’s generals proved the opportunity to push him out. The memo was passed in May to Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by Mansoor Ijaz, an American businessman of Pakistani origin. Mr. Ijaz has claimed he was acting on behalf of Mr. Haqqani.
Mr. Haqqani has repeatedly denied any connection to the memo, though in an interview on Wednesday he acknowledged differences with the military over how close an alliance Pakistan should have with the United States and whether Islamabad needed hegemony in Afghanistan to protect itself from India, its far larger rival.
“Obviously, my differences were over the world view,” Mr. Haqqani said. “But if there was any unhappiness or discomfort, it was not relayed to me. The military leadership was never unkind to me but there are wheels within wheels here in Pakistan.” He described his resignation as the result of President Zardari losing a power struggle.
In contrast to Ms. Rehman, “I have been a skeptic of the Afghanistan policy and strategic depth,” the doctrine under which Pakistani forces could fall back to Afghanistan in the event of an overwhelming Indian invasion, Mr. Haqqani said.
Mr. Haqqani declined to discuss the details of his meeting on Tuesday with Pakistan’s civilian leaders and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief, and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or the ISI, as Pakistan’s top military spy service is known.
But Pakistani officials with knowledge of the meeting said Mr. Haqqani was largely done in by transcripts of Blackberry messenger conversations he allegedly had with Mr. Ijaz. While Mr. Haqqani acknowledged having contact with Mr. Ijaz, he argued the transcripts were doctored, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were describing private meetings.
Ultimately it was decided Mr. Haqqani had to go. “General Kayani and General Pasha were very courteous,” said one of the officials. “Their only concern was that this had become such a big issue that short of a resignation, nothing would calm down the situation.”
Salman Masood reported from Islamabad, and Matthew Rosenberg from Washington.
Gilani, Kayani real winners out of ‘memogate’ episode
A highly-placed source claims that it was Gilani who convinced President Asif Ali Zardari to visit PM’s House for the meeting and to sack his close associate Hussain Haqqani as a damage-control measure. “The prime minister is pleased to appoint Sherry Rehman as the new ambassador to the US,” spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office confirmed. “Prime Minister Gilani has also been instrumental in convincing the army chief about appointing a PPP nominee as ambassador to the US instead of a career diplomat to clear the air about differences between the government and the military. Finally, the prime minister convinced General Ashfaq Kayani to appoint Sherry as ambassador to Washington on Tuesday, while President Asif Ali Zardari was also taken onboard. This arrangement served purposes of all – the army chief and PM Gilani – who wanted to accommodate Sherry Rehman since long but could not as President Zaradri was opposed to it,” the source added. Sherry had been sidelined by PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari after she tendered resignation as information minister on March 14, 2009 to protest government’s gags on a leading media group. The venue of the meeting to decide the fate of Hussain Haqqani also hinted how things had went against the plan conceived by the Presidency and the meeting took place at the PM’s House, despite the fact that president was supreme commander of the armed forces and his office should have been the meeting place. Defence analyst Syed Hassan Askari Rizvi said the entire episode had brought about a “slight remission” in clout of the president, as allegations were levelled against the Presidency, not the prime minister. “Yes, the prime minister has gained as he was not the Haqqani’s link and rather it was the president. Taking advantage of the situation, he also got appointed Sherry, who was not in the good books of Zardari. To some extent, the army chief has also accommodated Gilani by accepting Sherry’s appointment. But in my view, military is a true winner out of this controversy and it has build pressure on the civilian government. Since political parties were against the government and instead of reconciling with politicians, the government decided to reconcile with the military,” he said.
US looks forward to working with Sherry Rehman
The United States on Wednesday said it looked forward to working with Pakistan’s new Ambassador to Washington Ms Sherry Rehman on enhancing bilateral relationship. “We certainly look forward to working together with her as we continue to build a strong cooperative relationship between the two countries,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said at the daily briefing.He was asked to comment on Islamabad’s announcement that Sherry Rehman, a parliamentarian and known journalist will replace Husain Haqqani as the country’s ambassador to the United States. He said the US government communicates with the Pakistani government through multiple channels and ambassador in Washington is one of the important channels. The spokesman acknowledged former ambassador Haqqani’s strong support for US-Pakistan relations but also conceded that the US has relations with governments.