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Updated: November 21, 2011 00:12 IST

Haqqani in Islamabad to present his version

Anita Joshua
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A file photo of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S.
AP A file photo of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S.

No official confirmation of whether the envoy to the U.S. met Zardari

Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani arrived here in the early hours of Sunday to present his version of what has come to be known as the ‘Memogate' scandal. However, a thick shroud of secrecy surrounded his activities through the day with no official confirmation of him meeting President Asif Ali Zardari.

Mr. Haqqani arrived in the country amid speculation of his possible removal for allegedly writing a memo — on behalf of Mr. Zardari — to the former U.S. Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, seeking Washington's intervention in pre-empting a military takeover following the raid in Abbottabad to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

It is not just Mr. Haqqani's job that is in question but the survival of the Pakistan People's Party-led dispensation, with an influential section of the media baying for Mr. Zardari's blood and levelling charges of treason. With ‘Memogate' straining the perennially uneasy civil-military relationship, there is once again talk of a change in government and the possibility of the current dispensation being replaced by a group of technocrats.

Prior to heading for Islamabad as per the summons of Mr. Zardari, Mr. Haqqani met U.S. special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman. Pakistani reporters in Washington quoted State Department officials as stating that Mr. Grossman had not seen the memo before it was made public by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz who claims to have delivered it to the Americans on behalf of Mr. Haqqani.

‘U.S. is pro-democracy'

Earlier, while refusing to be drawn into speculating on the possibility of a coup in Pakistan, the State Department spokesperson said: “We very clearly support the democratically-elected government of Pakistan as well as its constitutional process.” This statement came in the wake of Admiral Mullen's confirmation of the existence of the memo being interpreted as an indication of U.S. withdrawing support to the democratic institutions of Pakistan.

However, according to Dawn, the White House and the Pentagon refused to take sides in the crisis and, in turn, underlined their links with both the civilian and military establishments. The Pentagon echoed the response of Admiral Mullen's office to the memo that it was neither taken seriously nor did it refer to anyone as it was not perceived to be credible.

Sharif seeks probe

Meanwhile, political pressure is mounting on the government to conduct an enquiry into the matter, with the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, setting a 10-day-deadline while reiterating his long-standing demand that intelligence agencies stay out of politics and stop orchestrating political change by stirring trouble in political parties.

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