WASHINGTON – Former Pakistani ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani who recently stirred controversy by claiming that he helped US deploy a CIA spy network in Pakistan apparently refuted his earlier claims.
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Haqqani, who appeared before the Abbottabad commission in the purview of investigations into the killing of Osama Bin Laden in December 2011, had claimed that he did not issue visas to Americans in excessive amount.
The former ambassador expressed that he had been as critical as any Pakistani of the US raid even if he also advocated the necessity of mutually beneficial and satisfactory bilateral cooperation with the US.
He categorically claimed that he strictly abided by the rules and the directives to expedite the clearance of pending visa applications which he did in accordance with rules and instructions from the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Office.
Haqqani himself bolstered his point by showing figures and statistics to prove that there was no extraordinary spike in issuance of visas and only a backlog that had accumulated over a span of several months due to frayed relations between the countries was cleared.
The members of the commission after carefully accessing the statement of Hussain Haqqani who was the central personality to the Memogate scandal also revealed its findings in which it was observed that due to pressure from the US government, a waiver was given only to the embassy in Washington wherein the ambassador could issue visas to anyone for a span of one year without any security clearance.
The commission also observed that although Pakistan granted a special waiver to Americans, no reciprocal step was taken by the Obama administration which was an inexcusable violation of diplomatic relations between the sovereign countries.
A spike was observed in issuance of visas as 276 visas on average were issued in first half of 2010 whereas during the second half, the number climbed to 414.
Likewise, the visas issued to US official diplomats when calculated on a six-monthly basis jumped from an average of 1698 over the 2008-10 period to a staggering 2487, in July to September 2010.
Hussain Haqqani’s statement before the judicial commission suggested that he did not granted any special favour to US for issuance of visas however, his article in the Washington post suggested that he himself helped the CIA to station CIA operatives in Pakistan.
“Among the security establishment’s grievances against me was the charge that I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives who helped track down bin Laden without the knowledge of Pakistan’s army — even though I had acted under the authorisation of Pakistan’s elected civilian leaders,” he wrote in the Post.
Not only that, when Haqqani was asked about the movement of foreigners in excessive amount, he responded in January 200 with fudged figures.
Hussain Haqqani claimed that a total of 3555 official visas were issued in 2010 compared to 3784 in 2009 showing a downward trend.
However, when the commission reached embassy for official records, it was learnt that in 2009, 3242 visas were issued and in 2010, 4422 visas were issued contrary to Haqqani’s claims.
Haqqani expressed that 515 visas were issued in July 2010 whereas in actual 882 visas were issued, as per commission’s findings.
The commission also found out that in at least four cases, in 2010 prior to July 14, visas were issued before receiving security clearance, thus putting a question mark over Haqqani’s credibility.