Haqqani accuses Abbottabad commission of concealing facts
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States has reacted strongly to published claims by the Abbottabad commission regarding issuance of visas to US officials, particularly the suggestion that as ambassador he issued visas without authorisation or was responsible for CIA agents coming into Pakistan in large numbers.
In a statement, Husain Haqqani said that the US Navy SEALs who found Osama bin Laden did not come with visas and the entire controversy over visas had been manufactured to distract attention from the two vital questions.
“The first question is, why Pakistan’s bloated security agencies failed to find OBL for nine years and the second, how were the US SEALs able to come into Pakistan without detection by our security forces,” he said.
The former ambassador said that the commission interviewed him on December 19, 2011 when he was a virtual prisoner, because he had been forbidden to leave the country without any charges being filed against him. He said his life was under threat because of “false propaganda” against him.
“I informed the commission that I did not have access to official records for visas at the time but the commission has not recorded that point in its report,” he said. Haqqani added that the figures for visas were provided by officials at the embassy and the Foreign Ministry after he had resigned, and “to say these came from me is an absolute falsehood”.
Haqqani said if anyone was given a visa, it “does not make that person invisible within Pakistan”. “Entry of that person is still recorded at the airport and he can be followed, like thousands of Pakistanis and foreigners are followed by intelligence agencies,” he said. “Why did the intelligence agencies fail to track down those who were issued visas is another question that has been ignored,” he added.
The former ambassador cited the example of CIA contractor Raymond Davis who stayed in Pakistan for three years on visas that were issued and renewed in Islamabad.
Haqqani said that the entire OBL episode was a sad reflection on the “wrong priorities of our security services”. “The Abbottabad commission’s report, as leaked, tries to play to the gallery in Pakistan instead of saying upfront that Pakistan’s national security establishment’s wrong policies were responsible for bin Laden being able to stay in Pakistan and for Americans being able to find him without Pakistan knowing.”
On the visas, Haqqani said that if and when required, he would produce copies of every visa authorisation that would demonstrate that not a single visa was ever issued while he was an ambassador that was not authorised from Islamabad, including input from security agencies.
He also remarked that the members of the commission, one of whom served as an ambassador to the US himself (a reference to Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, who is related to memo commission chief Qazi Faez Isa) should have known that ambassadors did not issue visas.
Haqqani concluded by saying that he would not give up his patriotic criticism at an intellectual level of Pakistan’s security establishment and its “stooges”, and that they could continue to harass him with false allegations that were meant to feed the fear of Pakistanis about western influence. “The real threat to Pakistan comes from our poverty and the extremists, and not from being part of a globalised world in which a large number of people travel between countries,” he said. pr