By Ahmar Mustikhan
Intellectual credibility of an otherwise well-written book on recent Pakistan history has been badly dented as the author, a former Pakistan ambassador, fails to mention the name of his chief tormentor who cost him his dream job in Washington DC.
Husain Haqqani, former Pakistan ambassador to the United States (2008-2011), in his latest 401-page book, Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States and an Epic History of Misunderstanding mentions the challenges he faced after the May 2011 attack by the US navy SEALs on a compound next door to Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad, that led to the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, in just four brief paragraphs.
In a rather indirect way, Ambassador Haqqani appears to admit that he did in fact use the offices of a Pakistani-American businessman who is now living in Monaco, Mansoor Ejaz, the man behind what came to be known as the Memogate scandal.
After bin Laden was killed, Mansoor Ejaz wrote an op-ed article in The Financial Times on October 10, 2011 in which he said Ambassador Haqqani had asked him to deliver a memo to the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, seeking US help in thwarting a military coup against the then government of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Referring to the Commission of Enquiry set up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that tried Haqqani for seeking US help against Pakistan military, he writes several months after he was allowed to leave Pakistan, “the Commission of Inquiry alleged that I had acted against Pakistan’s interests and had authorized the memo. Pakistani hard-liners claimed I was an American agent of influence, with access in Washington’s power corridors.”
Refuting allegations that he had insider contacts in the US, Ambassador Haqqani drops the bombshell, “Were that true, there would have been no reason for me to seek help – certainly not from a disreputable businessman – to deliver a message to the US government.”
Haqqani fears that the Commission’s report “could lead to charges of treason, a conviction that carries the death penalty.”
But those who know Pakistan well were not surprised. “When ambitions are at play, intellectual credibility becomes secondary,” said DC-based Khawar Rizvi, who was in jail with Pakistan’s famous poet Habib Jalib during the martial law regime of Gen. Ziaul Haq.
Other than this major lapse, Haqqani’s book is highly readable and delves into hitherto unknown aspects of how President Barack Obama personally looks at Pakistan, with unpublished direct quotes from him.
Magnificent Delusions has been published by Public Affairs, New York, and is likely to incense the military leaders in Pakistan even more, though Mr. Haqqani a while ago said he has “another inning to play.”
Two leading members of the American intellectual establishment were full of praise for Haqqani’s book.
“Ambassador Haqqani’s purpose is not to fix blame, but to explain how two countries that have for sixty years described themselves as allies can nevertheless misunderstand each other thoroughly and repeatedly. Richly-detailed, this skillfully written narrative will enlighten scholars, entrance average readers, and give future diplomats much to contemplate,” said Madeleine Albright, for US Secretary of State.
“This is a must-read book for anyone who seeks to understand geopolitics in the twenty-first century. Husain Haqqani provides a riveting insider’s account of the complex, and critically important, relationship between America and Pakistan,” writes Walter Isaacson CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Steve Jobs and Kissinger: A Biography.
* Ahmar Mustikhan is a senior Baloch journalist, who has worked in newsrooms in Pakistan, UAE and the US. He writes on issues pertaining to Balochistan, and minority rights and terrorism in Pakistan