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U.S. senators demand fair treatment for former Amb. Haqqani

Three U.S. senators are calling on the Pakistani government and judiciary to protect former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, who they say has been the victim of "ongoing harassment and mistreatment" since resigning late last year due to the Memogate scandal. "We are increasingly troubled by Ambassador Haqqani’s treatment since he returned home to ...

Three U.S. senators are calling on the Pakistani government and judiciary to protect former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, who they say has been the victim of "ongoing harassment and mistreatment" since resigning late last year due to the Memogate scandal.

"We are increasingly troubled by Ambassador Haqqani’s treatment since he returned home to Pakistan, including the travel ban imposed on him," said Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) in a Thursday statement. "Like many in Washington, we are closely following Ambassador Haqqani’s case. We urge Pakistani authorities to resolve this matter swiftly and consistent with civilian rule of law and to prevent the judicial commission investigating Ambassador Haqqani from becoming a political tool for revenge against an honorable man."

Haqqani, who returned to Pakistan after resigning in November, is now living in the official residence of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. He told The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that he feared for his life. "If I leave my house, I fear I will be killed," he said, adding that he had only left the residence a few times and always with a heavy security escort.

Haqqani compared his situation to that of Salman Taseer, the former governor of Punjab Province who was assassinated one year ago by his own guard because of his outspoken opposition to an anti-blasphemy law.

"My good friend Salman Taseer was killed by a security guard because he heard in the media that the governor had blasphemed. I’m being called a traitor and an American lackey in the media with the clear encouragement of certain powerful quarters even though I’ve not been charged legally with anything," Haqqani told the Telegraph.

A Supreme Court commission inquiry is examining his involvement in the Memogate scandal, in which Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote a memo on May 9 to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen asking for U.S. help in rearranging Pakistan’s security apparatuses following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Ijaz claims that Haqqani authored the memo and conceived of the scheme, whereby Pakistan’s civilian leadership would reorient Pakistani foreign policy toward U.S. interests in exchange for help avoiding a military coup. Furthermore, Ijaz says Haqqani was working on behalf of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. Haqqani has always denied any involvement in drafting or delivering the memo. Former National Security Advisor Jim Jones, who passed memo between Ijaz and Mullen, has said he has no reason to believe Haqqani was involved.

The three U.S. senators said they were not necessarily fans of Haqqani’s policies, but they respected him nonetheless and believed he was always working in what he believed were the best interests of Pakistan.

"Husain Haqqani served Pakistan honorably as its ambassador to the United States. While we did not always agree with Ambassador Haqqani, and our exchange of views could be spirited at times, we always had the highest respect for him and knew he was serving his nation and government with patriotism and distinction," they said. "We regret that the Pakistani people have lost a tough-minded, eloquent, and principled advocate for their nation’s interests now that Ambassador Haqqani has departed Washington."

Three U.S. senators are calling on the Pakistani government and judiciary to protect former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, who they say has been the victim of "ongoing harassment and mistreatment" since resigning late last year due to the Memogate scandal.

"We are increasingly troubled by Ambassador Haqqani’s treatment since he returned home to Pakistan, including the travel ban imposed on him," said Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) in a Thursday statement. "Like many in Washington, we are closely following Ambassador Haqqani’s case. We urge Pakistani authorities to resolve this matter swiftly and consistent with civilian rule of law and to prevent the judicial commission investigating Ambassador Haqqani from becoming a political tool for revenge against an honorable man."

Haqqani, who returned to Pakistan after resigning in November, is now living in the official residence of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. He told The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that he feared for his life. "If I leave my house, I fear I will be killed," he said, adding that he had only left the residence a few times and always with a heavy security escort.

Haqqani compared his situation to that of Salman Taseer, the former governor of Punjab Province who was assassinated one year ago by his own guard because of his outspoken opposition to an anti-blasphemy law.

"My good friend Salman Taseer was killed by a security guard because he heard in the media that the governor had blasphemed. I’m being called a traitor and an American lackey in the media with the clear encouragement of certain powerful quarters even though I’ve not been charged legally with anything," Haqqani told the Telegraph.

A Supreme Court commission inquiry is examining his involvement in the Memogate scandal, in which Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote a memo on May 9 to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen asking for U.S. help in rearranging Pakistan’s security apparatuses following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Ijaz claims that Haqqani authored the memo and conceived of the scheme, whereby Pakistan’s civilian leadership would reorient Pakistani foreign policy toward U.S. interests in exchange for help avoiding a military coup. Furthermore, Ijaz says Haqqani was working on behalf of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. Haqqani has always denied any involvement in drafting or delivering the memo. Former National Security Advisor Jim Jones, who passed memo between Ijaz and Mullen, has said he has no reason to believe Haqqani was involved.

The three U.S. senators said they were not necessarily fans of Haqqani’s policies, but they respected him nonetheless and believed he was always working in what he believed were the best interests of Pakistan.

"Husain Haqqani served Pakistan honorably as its ambassador to the United States. While we did not always agree with Ambassador Haqqani, and our exchange of views could be spirited at times, we always had the highest respect for him and knew he was serving his nation and government with patriotism and distinction," they said. "We regret that the Pakistani people have lost a tough-minded, eloquent, and principled advocate for their nation’s interests now that Ambassador Haqqani has departed Washington."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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