Monday, March 13, 2017

Is Husain Haqqani Switching Loyalties Yet Again?

It is well-known that Mr. Husain Haqqani, who served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, has a long history of  opportunism.  He has switched loyalties many times since he began his career in Karachi, Pakistan in 1980s.

Does former Ambassador Haqqani's latest Washington Post Op Ed titled "Yes, the Russian ambassador met Trump’s team. So? That’s what we diplomats do" signal yet another shift in his ever-changing loyalties?

Is the Washington Post Op Ed an attempt by Mr. Haqqani to ingratiate himself with President Donald Trump by defending the Trump campaigns' controversial contacts with Russia? Is he doing what his current employer Hudson Institute, a conservative right-wing think tank, expects him to do?  Is he also reminding the Trump administration of the valuable services he rendered to the United States while working as Pakistan's ambassador in Washington by confessing that "I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan?

Haqqani's Shifting Loyalties:

Husain Haqqani began his career in 1980s as General Zia ul Haq's loyalist when he was affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), a right-wing student group with close ties to the Jamaat-e-Islami, a political party in Pakistan.

On August 21, 1988, Husain Haqqani covered Gen Zia's funeral as coanchor of PTV, the state-run television network. After the funeral, Haqqani spoke with Los Angeles Times correspondent Mark Fineman and said as follows:

 "When Zia was alive, they (Zia's supporters) didn't have to come out. In fact, on most recent Fridays, when I went to prayer, my maulvi (Islamic preacher) has been blasting Zia as a phony and un-Islamic....Yesterday (after Zia's death), he was crying. The basic division in our society is between the Islamicists and the secularists, and this crowd today is saying that the highly religious segment of society cannot be ignored now that Zia is gone."

After the death of the general in a fiery air crash,  Haqqani joined Prime Minister Sharif's right-leaning Muslim League and served as his press secretary followed by ambassadorship in Sri Lanka.

When Nawaz Sharif lost his job, Husain Haqqani joined left-leaning Pakistan People's Party and became Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's spokesman.

In a piece published in 1999 by Asian Wall Street Journal, Haqqani explained his changing loyalties in the following words: "Over the last three decades, I have alternated between being attracted to and repulsed by political Islam". The fact is that Mr. Haqqani has always been attracted to whoever is in power.

Currently, Haqqani is doing what is expected of him by his bosses at the right-wing Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank funded by the extreme right groups in the United States. Gatestone Institute, an offshoot of the Hudson Institute, is actively engaged in funding and promoting Islamophobia in America.

Washington Post Op Ed:

Ambassador Husain Haqqani has said in his Washington Post Op Ed that  "I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan.

Here's an excerpt from it.

"Among the security establishment’s grievances against me was the charge that I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives who helped track down bin Laden without the knowledge of Pakistan’s army — even though I had acted under the authorization of Pakistan’s elected civilian leaders."

Since the Op Ed claims to tell the world "what diplomats do" as part of their duties representing their nations abroad, it raises the following questions:

1. Is it part of an ambassador's job to send foreign intelligence agents into his or her own country without the knowledge and consent of his country's intelligence folks?

2. Can an ambassador trust that foreign intelligence operatives will only do what they promise in the ambassador's home country?  Could it be that Bin Laden hunt was just an excuse to let in "large numbers of CIA operatives "who most likely have a far wider wider agenda, including tracking Pakistan's nuclear assets and spying that could risk Pakistan security?

3. Can an ambassador trust foreign intelligence agents more than his country's intelligence professionals?

4. How can an ambassador make sure that undercover foreign agents unknown to Pakistan's intelligence agencies would stick to doing only what they say they will do?

Husain Haqqani's Grudge:

Since his dismissal as Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, Mr. Husain Haqqani is nursing a grudge against Pakistan that is evident from his "research recommendations" for US policy on Pakistan.

In 2012, barely a year after he was let go as Pakistani ambassador, Mr. Haqqani recommended that the United States "divorce" Pakistan.

For example, in a 2015 Wall Street Journal piece, he questioned "why are we sending this attack helicopter to Pakistan?" The "we" here is noteworthy given that he is currently a citizen of Pakistan. Mr. Haqqani's main worry was that "American weapons will end up being used to fight or menace India".

In 2016, Mr. Haqqani argued against US sales of F-16s to Pakistan and agreed with the Indian lobbyists that the F-16s would be used against India, not for fighting terror as Pakistan said.

Pakistan People's Party's Role:

Pakistan People's Party leaders have rejected Husain Haqqani's claim that he "acted under the authorization of Pakistan’s elected civilian leaders" when he "facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan.

The PPP parliamentary leader Mr. Khursheed Shah has denounced Haqqani as a traitor and said “This man is issuing statement in an effort to gain attention of new US administration.”


Mr. Husain Haqqani has a long history of changing loyalties. He has often recommended US policy positions that are seen as detrimental to US-Pakistan ties, especially since his 2011 dismissal as Pakistan's ambassador in Washington.  He has recently said he "had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives" in Pakistan when he served as Pakistani ambassador in Washington from 2008 to 2011. His claim that he did so with Pakistani government's authorization has been rejected by the leaders of the Pakistan People's Party that governed the country at the time.

Here's a video of Riaz Haq rebutting Husain Haqqani:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Is Trump Taking Advice From Husain Haqqani?

Pakistan, China "Experts": Husain Haqqani, Minxin Pei & Gordon Chanf

Profit Motives of Authors Bashing Pakistan

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and Muslims

Indian Sponsored Terror in Pakistan

700,000 Indian Soldiers Vs 10 Million Kashmiris

Gen Petraeus Debunks Allegations of Duplicity Against Pakistan

Blackberry Transcripts Sealed Haqqani's Fate in Memogate

Debunking Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative About Pakistan

Debunking Mr. Haqqani's Op Ed "Pakistan's Elusive Quest for Parity"

Doval Doctrine


Ahsan H. said...

The Urdu term "thaali ka bangan" describes Mr. Haqqani best when you look at his political career, as you did in your writeup. He is an
opportunist, and loyalty to any one politician or political ideology is not his thing.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahsan: "The Urdu term "thaali ka bangan" describes Mr. Haqqani best"

I think Husain Haqqani is much worse than a "thaali ka began".

He has absolutely no conviction. The world loyalty is not in his vocabulary.

No one can trust him. I bet Pakistan's enemies do not trust him either, though they find him useful for now.

I think Iqbal had Husain Haqqani in mind when he wrote: Jaafar az Bangal Sadiq az Dakan/ Nang e Millat Nang e Deen Nange Watan.

Syed S.S. said...

He is nothing more than a gold digger. He has been doing it to please any one who can pay for his loyalties.

Riz Q said...

We are required to attend many lectures at think tanks during the senior year for International Studies program at Boston University. Husain Haqqani is very popular for his intellectual wisdom on many foreign affairs topics

Anonymous said...

Hussain Haqqani's loyalties belong to the highest bidder.

G. Ali

Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

A non-issue

By M Ziauddin

Hussain’s public career is too public for anyone to take him for granted. He has done it all. A Jamiat boy at Karachi University. Took up journalism as career after graduation. Started political career as a supporter of Ziaul Haq. In 1990 he became Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s special assistant. From 1992 to 1993 he served as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. From 1993 to 1995, he was spokesman for PM Benazir Bhutto (BB).

After the ouster of PM Nawaz in 1999, he lobbied for a job in the Musharraf government winning some consulting contracts through the good offices of then finance minister Shaukat Aziz and then was interviewed by General Aziz for the post of Information Secretary but failed to get the job. After having lost any hope of getting into the Musharraf regime he went to the US to join a think tank where he once again revived his contacts with BB and assisted her in lobbying power brokers in the US establishment. And when the PPP came to power after the 2008 elections he successfully lobbied for the post of US ambassadorship. Interestingly, it was not Zardari but President General (retd) Musharraf who appointed him to the coveted post in April 2008, of course on the recommendation of the former who had to wait for another five months to enter the presidency. Meanwhile he has authored two very interesting books both open indictments of Pakistani establishment for what he claims the ‘harmful’ consequences of its policies.

Three persons from the PPP side have responded to the claims made by HH in his Washington Post piece. Two of them, Sherry Rehman and Syed Khurshid Shah, do not appear to know what they are talking about. Their statements sounded more like whistling in the dark fearing perhaps another round of PPP bashing by the media. But Farhatullah Babar’s response was measured and perhaps the right one at the right time. Babar said all visas issued to US nationals under the PPP tenure were given in accordance with the laid-down procedure involving various state agencies and no irregularity whatsoever was committed.

Riaz Haq said...

International publishers forced to re-write approach in India

Copyright infringement and mercurial regulation prove hurdles to lucrative market

Dharam Pal Singh Bisht stoops to pick up a fresh stack of hot paper from the out tray of his photocopy machine and hands it to a student, who gives him Rs50 — less than $1 — for 100 pages of material.

With this transaction and hundreds like it every day, Mr Bisht has single-handedly defeated three international publishers, slashed costs for students at Delhi University, and threatened an entire industry.

Mr Bisht runs Delhi University’s photocopy shop, a crowded room crammed with photocopiers and computers where students queue to get their entire course material copied for a fraction of what it would cost to buy the books.

Following the decision in March of three international publishing companies — Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis — to drop their legal case against Mr Bisht, his business is functioning with impunity.

The trio claimed his photocopying business undermined their intellectual property, but the Delhi high court ruled that it was not in students’ interests to shut him down. The companies appealed but later dropped the case, citing “longer-term interests”. Executives say they had given up hope of winning, but believed they could still make money in the country long term.

India is potentially very lucrative for English-language academic publishers. These include privately owned companies such as McGraw Hill Education of the US and Macmillan Education, which is owned by the German company Springer Nature, as well as publicly listed ones such as Informa — through its Taylor & Francis division — and Pearson.

The country is the sixth-biggest publishing market in the world, and the second-largest English-language market behind the US.

India has 25m students in 3m schools and, as of 2012-13, 700 universities and 35,000 affiliated colleges. That market is growing quickly, with the population increasing at 1.2 per cent per year and economic output by about 7 per cent annually.

Though the companies do not declare how much they make in India, figures from Nielsen, the research group show, that overall revenues in the academic publishing sector have rocketed.

In 2013-14, about $2.9bn worth of academic books for schoolchildren were sold in India, and $860m worth of higher education books. By 2015-16, these figures had risen to $4.1bn and $1.2bn, respectively.

“Every publisher wants to come to India; there is a huge opportunity here,” says Vikrant Mathur, director at Nielsen.

But while the opportunities are significant, so are the hurdles — none more so than the perception of weak intellectual property protection.

“Access to knowledge will be reduced if this ceases to happen, which we believe is detrimental to the interests of India’s knowledge economy.”

Suprahmanian Seshadri, managing partner at the publishing consultancy Overleaf and a former executive at Oxford University Press, says: “For the publishers, this is already a low-margin market, and it is going to become increasingly difficult for them to make money.”

According to Mr Seshadri, international publishers can expect to make 45 to 50 per cent gross profit margins in India, which translates into 10 per cent earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. That compares with gross margins of 65 to 75 per cent and ebitda of 15 to 20 per cent in more developed markets such as the UK.

Copyright infringement is not the only hurdle in India. Academic publishers saw their market abruptly shrink by about 18,000 schools in February when the government decided all schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education should use only state-published textbooks.

Meanwhile, ministers have also decided to impose a 12 per cent tax on paper as part of the new national goods and services tax due to come into force on July 1.

Riaz Haq said...

Husain Haqqani Defends #India, Asks #Trump to Get Tough With #Pakistan to Win in #Afghanistan

Islamabad’s response was to argue that Pakistan does, indeed, support insurgents in Afghanistan, but it does so because of security concerns about India, which is seen by generals and many civilian leaders as an existential threat to Pakistan.

But that excuse is based on exaggerations and falsehoods. India has no offensive military presence in Afghanistan and there has never been any evidence that the Afghans are willing to be part of India’s alleged plan for a two-front war with Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, recently asked India to train Afghan military officers and repair military aircraft after frustration with Pakistan, which failed to fulfill promises of restraining the Taliban and forcing them to the negotiating table.

Pakistan’s leaders question Afghanistan’s acceptance of economic assistance from India even though Pakistan does not have the capacity to provide such aid itself.

It seems that Pakistan wants to keep alive imaginary fears, possibly to maintain military ascendancy in a country that has been ruled by generals for almost half of its existence. For years Pakistani officials falsely asserted that India had set up 24 consulates in Afghanistan, some close to the Pakistani border. In fact, India has only four consulates, the same number Pakistan has, in Afghanistan.

Lying about easily verifiable facts is usually the tactic of governments fabricating a threat rather than ones genuinely facing one. As ambassador, I attended trilateral meetings where my colleagues rejected serious suggestions from Afghans and Americans to mitigate apprehensions about Indian influence in Afghanistan.

While evidence of an Indian threat to Pakistan through Afghanistan remains scant, proof of the presence of Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan continues to mount. Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader, reportedly died in a Pakistani hospital in 2013 and his successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was killed in an American drone strike in Baluchistan Province in Pakistan last year.

The United States should not let Pakistan link its longstanding support for hard-line Pashtun Islamists in Afghanistan to its disputes with India.

Both India and Pakistan have a lot of blood on their hands in Kashmir and seem in no hurry to resolve their disagreement, which is rooted in the psychosis resulting from the subcontinent’s bitter partition. The two countries have gone through 45 rounds of summit-level talks since 1947 and have failed to reach a permanent settlement.

Linking the outcome in Afghanistan to resolution of India-Pakistan issues would keep the United States embroiled there for a very long time. The recent rise in Islamophobia in India and a more aggressive stance against Pakistan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not detract from recognizing the paranoiac nature of Pakistan’s fears.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Defiant as US Ponders New Strategy. Demands Renegotiation of #America's Access Rights to #Afghanistan

Days after the Pentagon announced it is withholding $50 million intended for Pakistan as part of its Coalition Support Fund, the South Asian country's ambassador hinted at potential retaliation, possibly coaxing Washington to negotiate access to the country's air corridors, which Islamabad suggests have been taken for granted.

Pakistan is ready to cooperate with the United States, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said, though Washington may now end up having to negotiate with Islamabad on the corridors and other tangible assets, he added.

"All that Pakistan has done in the fight against terrorism has not been sufficiently factored" into the U.S. decision to reduce its support funds, Chaudhry lamented during a discussion this week at the Washington office of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Air rights up for negotiation?

Pakistan has facilitated air and ground logistical support for U.S. troops in Afghanistan "like no one else," Chaudhry said, adding that "since 2001, all air corridors from Pakistan have been available to the United States free of cost."

The reason Pakistan did so "was because we believed this was a common war," the ambassador said, but there have been occasions when U.S. actions have left his country's leaders thinking "that perhaps we are not partners."

Questions concerning Pakistan's commitment to bilateral partnership have also been raised by the U.S. A prime example was the discovery in 2011 that al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden had been living undisturbed near a key Pakistani military facility.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said he withheld $50 million in Coalition Support Funds because he couldn't certify to Congress that Pakistan had taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network, a Taliban-associated organization which the U.S. has deemed a Foreign Terrorist Organization, since September 2012. The group has been blamed for attacks in Afghanistan, which have contributed to the country's destabilization, an issue of concern to the U.S.

For its part, Islamabad's message is don't drop "every security lapse in Afghanistan on Pakistan's doorsteps," as the country's ambassador to the U.S. put it.

The Pakistani envoy's remarks came at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has been reviewing its overall strategy toward South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. And his defiant tone may reflect Pakistan's decreasing dependence on the United States amid an influx of Chinese capital investments and a strengthening political relationship between Islamabad and Beijing.