Pakistani Envoy Offers to Resign Over Memo
By Salmaan Masood for The New York Times
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, has offered to resign amid a political and diplomatic storm in Pakistan over a mysterious memo, which asks for American help in dealing with the Pakistani military and Mr. Haqqani is accused of orchestrating.
Mr. Haqqani denies any involvement with the memo, but he said he offered to resign to end the continuing controversy.
The claims that Mr. Haqqani wrote the memo were made by Mansoor Ijaz, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, who said he was asked to ensure the delivery of the document to Adm. Mike Mullen, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time.
Mr. Ijaz described the memo, which he has not made public, as saying that the civilian government in Pakistan was seeking help in preventing a possible military coup in May. The military had just suffered humiliation over the American raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Ijaz said that the memo indicated that Pakistan promised, in return, to dismantle a part of its premier intelligence agency — which some American officials have come to distrust.
On Wednesday, Admiral Mullen’s former spokesman, Capt. John Kirby, said that the memo was delivered, but that Admiral Mullen “did not find the memo at all credible.”
“Therefore,” Captain Kirby said, “he addressed it with no one.”
Captain Kirby added that the memo was unsigned and was delivered by someone other than Mr. Ijaz.
Supporters of Mr. Haqqani say that he maintains close contacts with American officials, including Admiral Mullen, and did not need an intermediary to deliver a message, especially one as explosive and diplomatically delicate as what was said to be included in the memo.
The controversy over the memo threatens to further aggravate the differences between Pakistan’s civilian government and the powerful military.
Many people in Pakistan view Mr. Haqqani as too close to the United States because he often pushes for closer cooperation between the countries. Before becoming ambassador, Mr. Haqqani was also a vocal critic of the military, but since taking his job he has sometimes been supportive of the military in speaking with American officials. Many in the Pakistani military view him with suspicion.
The prime minister announced this week that Mr. Haqqani had been told that he needed to return to Pakistan to answer questions about the memo.
Mr. Haqqani said the decision of whether he continued at his job or not rested with President Asif Ali Zardari.
“I do not want this nonissue of an insignificant memo written by a private individual and not considered credible by its lone recipient to undermine democracy,” Mr. Haqqani said in an e-mail.
The news of the memo first surfaced last month when Mr. Ijaz wrote an op-ed article for The Financial Times. At the time, he did not name the diplomat he said he was behind the memo. He only recently said it was Mr. Haqqani.
Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington, and Matthew Rosenberg from New York.