Original Articles

Husain Haqqani’s replacement with Sherry Rehman was jointly engineered by Uncle Sam and Pakistan Army – by Laibaah

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.

Mian Abrar

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.


About the author

Jehangir Hafsi


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  • Raymond Davis
    November 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    IbrahimMalick Ibrahim Sajid Malick
    When you let Mullen & Kayani run US-Pakistan diplomacy why would you need @husainhaqqani or the State Department for that matter? #memogate
    22 Nov Favorite Retweet Reply

    Malik_73 K
    Mullen > Jim Jones > Masur Ijaz >> same hotel on same day + SMS/ BBM convos with > #HusainHaqqani . All the dots joining up #Pakistan

    Hashim Dhillon
    November 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Excellent post. We need to have a voice like yours in the mainstream media. I agree that Americans were convinced by the Deep State that Haqqani does not represent his principals (i.e., Deep State) hence any dialogues through him lacked in trust and meaningfulness.

    Behzad Bugti
    November 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Haqqani and his supporters cheer Sherry
    Usman Manzoor
    Thursday, November 24, 2011
    It is worth mentioning here that the supporters of Husain Haqqani were upset by his resignation and a campaign was run on Twitter to support him. Thousands tweeted to support Haqqani and joined the #TeamHH on Twitter. However, after the announcement of appointment of Sherry Rehman as Ambassador to the US, the #TeamHH had something to cheer for the first time ever since memogate controversy emerged.
    Shehrbano Taseer, daughter of Salman Taseer and a member of #teamHH, tweeted that “PPP is the only party that empowers Pakistani women – a hearty congrats to Sherry Rehman, our new ambassador to the US”.
    The Director General of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Murtaza Solangi, who uses Twitter frequently, said, “So no bureaucrat, no retired general will represent Pakistan. A politician with good human rights record and an intellectual: Sherry Rehman!”
    Another proud member of #teamHH, Marvi Sirmed posted over one hundred tweets regarding Haqqani and Sherry. One of her tweets read, “Repeat: Sherry Rehman makes a good choice. Brilliant move by the President. Simply Brilliant!”

    Behzad Bugti
    November 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Will work to augment Pak-US relations: Rehman
    PTI | 08:11 PM,Nov 24,2011
    Nov 24 (PTI) Pakistan’s Ambassador-designate to the US Sherry Rehman today said she would earnestly work to augment bilateral relations and endeavour to defend Islamabad’s interests at all international forums, especially in Washington. Rehman made the remarks on working on the frayed Pak-US relations during a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari a day after her appointment. She was named to the post after the former envoy, Husain Haqqani, was forced out over the “memogate” controversy. Zardari asked Rehman to concentrate on enhancing relations with the US, with the focus on strengthening democracy and trade ties. He congratulated Rehman on her new assignment. Rehman also met Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and discussed bilateral relations with the US. Khar “underscored the importance Pakistan attached to its relations with the United States”, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office. Rehman’s new assignment will see her playing a crucial role in guiding Pakistan-US relations, which plunged to a new low this year due to several crises. The trouble began when CIA contractor Raymond Davis was arrested in Lahore in January for killing two armed men believed to be linked to ISI. The crisis further intensified after the unilateral US raid that Killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.


  • I never liked Haqqani but the reasons were quite different. Sherry, on the other hand, is a typical, self-centred, pro-establishment urban elite.

    God help Zardari!

  • I am not sure Ms. Rehman will be too happy to read Mr. Haqqani’s statement in the NYT article:

    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.

    A rebuttal or denial is to be expected soon 🙂

  • In Haqqani’s place has been appointed Sherry Rehman, till lately the president of the Islamabad-based think tank, Jinnah Institute, the latest production of which was the quite disgraceful Report on the Endgame in Afghanistan in partnership with the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) in Washington DC. A report that is a shameless re-hash of the Deep State’s deep yearnings in Afghanistan.
    Wait, though. The Deep State was/is an aggrieved party in the matter of the Murky Memo; so how come one of the leaders of the Deep State, let us not be afraid to name him: the DG ISI, took it upon himself to be the Chief Investigator? How, possibly, can someone with a vested interest in a case, investigate the case him or herself?


  • Right then, the DG ISI, hot-footed it to London to meet the very person who described the ISI thus (in his piece titled “Time to take on Pakistan’s jihadist spies”. for the Financial Times on Oct 10 this year): “The time has come for the state department to declare the S-Wing a sponsor of terrorism under the designation of “foreign governmental organisations… it no longer matters whether ISI is wilfully blind, complicit or incompetent in the attacks its S-Wing is carrying out… S-Wing must be stopped… ISI embodies the scourge of radicalism that has become a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
    “The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down the political and financial support that sustains an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global antiterrorism efforts at every turn. Measures such as stopping aid to Pakistan, as a bill now moving through Congress aims to do, are not the solution. More precise policies are needed to remove the cancer that the ISI and its rogue wings have become on the Pakistani state.
    “Pakistanis are not America’s enemies. Neither is their incompetent and toothless civilian government — the one Admiral Mullen was asked to help that May morning. The enemy is a state organ that breeds hatred among Pakistan’s Islamist masses and then uses their thirst for jihad against Pakistan’s neighbours and allies to sate its hunger for power. Taking steps to reduce its influence over Pakistan’s state affairs is a critical measure of the world’s willingness to stop the terror masters at their very roots.”
    And, after a several-hours meeting described in great detail by a calculated leak telling us how Pasha was by turn ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’, at what Mansoor Ijaz was telling him about the Murky Memo, he flew straight back to Pakistan to report to the COAS who, in turn, hot-footed it to the Presidency to vent at President Asif Zardari, not once but twice in two days.
    The rest of the events we know well by now. Husain Haqqani was pulled before a ‘board of inquiry’ comprising: COAS; DG ISI; the president; and PM, and then unceremoniously pushed aside, the PM’s office making sure that it was known that he had been asked to resign rather than merely say his resignation had been accepted, thereby keeping up an old Pakistan government tradition of utter inelegance and gracelessness. (The last time I saw this was in 1996, when Leghari stabbed the much-missed, much-lamented Benazir Bhutto in the back and dismissed her government. Wajid Shamsul Hassan, then High Commissioner in London, was in Pakistan at the time and was thrown in jail despite the sterling work he had done as Pakistan’s envoy in the UK).


  • The article is long on facts. If the army or the deep state wanted HH removed, they would have just asked the FS Salman Bashir to ask for his resignation. You think Salman Bashir would have refused the order? No way jose! They did not need the drama to remove to him. Try to understand the power of what you call the deep state. You think Americans are so naive that they don’t understand the Pakistan’s power structure or needed any explicit guidance to know who the real players are. Ambassadors don’t make policies, most of them are not even in the negotiations. They are the facilitators. They are appointment setters, they are the messengers not the players. HH tried go above his pay scale and the deep state made an example out of him and in the process they humiliated the civilian admin too.
    HH tried to be what he is not. The rest is just BS. He did not respect the deep state and at his level that respect is a given. You either follow the program or get out of the way. That is the message to all. There is no need to write 100000 words articles for that.

  • @Hoss

    Excellent comment. However, how would you explain the somersaults of Mullen and Mansoor? Did you read Kamran Shafi’s post: http://criticalppp.com/archives/63812/comment-page-1#comment-179044

    How do you explain the NYT article which points to diminishing of HH’s influence in Washington, especially in the White House. “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.

    Even an almighty army needs some pretext to make some moves. Haqqani’s entrapment or ambitious moves provided the Deep State with a long awaited opportunity to move other pieces for a checkmate, at least to HH!

  • Husain Haqqani, in maintaining contact with Mansoor Ijaz, was guilty of a serious error of judgement even if he had nothing to do with the memo. His departure from the scene could be justified on this account alone. What made it inevitable was that he was not seen in Pakistan as being able to represent the views of all the centres of power in the country. This episode has served its purpose if it secured better representation for Pakistan in its most important diplomatic post. But this should not mean the loss of the faculty for critical analysis. It should not mean that our media deliberately avoid an effort to separate the chaff from the wheat, to examine whether there was, in fact, a fire behind the smoke and, if so, what was the nature of the fire. In the critical times that lie ahead, this is what we cannot afford.

    Najmuddin A Shaikh

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