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Why Pakistan may recall its envoy to US

November 16, 2011 15:54 IST
Pakistan's political circles were abuzz on Wednesday with speculation about the recall of ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani in the wake of media reports on secret communications between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and the American administration to avert a possible military takeover.

Haqqani has been at the centre of a controversy following Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz's revelations about Zardari's purported efforts to reach out to the Obama administration to prevent Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani from staging a coup in the wake of the US raid that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Ijaz has claimed that he was asked to contact the US administration by a senior Pakistani official. Though Ijaz did not identify this official, the media and analysts have speculated that Haqqani was involved in the matter without providing any proof to back up their claims.

Following a meeting of the ruling Pakistan People's Party's top leaders chaired by Zardari on Monday, an official statement said a decision had been made to call Haqqani to Islamabad to "brief the country's leadership on a host of issues impacting on Pakistan-US relations and the recent developments".

The speculation about Haqqani's possible recall gained ground after Zardari's meetings on Tuesday with Kayani and US Ambassador Cameron Munter. Pakistan presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Zardari and

Kayani had discussed the current security situation and professional matters of the Pakistan army.

However, the INP news agency quoted its sources as saying that Kayani had conveyed the military's "reservations" over a letter purportedly sent to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen by Mansoor Ijaz "with the help of a top ambassador".

Security officials had conducted a probe and Ijaz's claim "seems right in the light of their probe", INP quoted its sources as saying. The report said Zardari told Kayani that the presidency and the Foreign Office had rejected Ijaz's claim and that he believed the purpose of such claims was to create misunderstanding between the political and military leadership.

The report further quoted Zardari as saying that the government was conducting its own probe into the issue. In Washington, the spokesman of the Pakistani embassy, Imran Gardezi, confirmed to the media that Ambassador Haqqani had been asked to come to Islamabad to brief the leadership on certain aspects of Pakistan-US relations.

The date for Haqqani's travel to Islamabad will be finalised after his scheduled commitments with Congressmen and US officials. Haqqani will be travelling to Pakistan "soon", Gardezi said.

Mansoor Ijaz's claims, especially his contention that the army intended to remove President Zardari in the wake of the killing of bin Laden, have strained the already tense relations between the civil and military leadership.

Some reports have claimed that the letter purportedly sent to the US administration by Zardari had sought American support for removing some senior Pakistani military officials.

In return, Zardari allegedly offered to increase cooperation in the war against terrorism. The presidency and the Foreign Office have denied Ijaz's claims and said no such letter was sent to the US administration. Ijaz has responded to such denials by saying he has a copy of the letter and related correspondence with Pakistani officials.

 

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