Washington D.C. – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement after Pakistani troops were bombed by NATO in the Mohmand district of Pakistan.
“Saturday’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airstrike that killed 24 innocent Pakistani soldiers and injured many more near the border of Afghanistan has further strained the vital U.S.-Pakistan relationship, increased anti-U.S. sentiment abroad and placed our troops in Afghanistan in even greater danger.
“Reports indicate that NATO is bracing itself for reprisal attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan. This means U.S. forces will be at increased risk. The U.S. cannot expect to achieve stability in Afghanistan and the region while NATO, with impunity, conducts reckless actions that directly undermine the security of the Pakistani people and jeopardize U.S.-Pakistani relations.
“The United States must insist upon a full, impartial, transparent investigation and ensure accountability within the NATO command for any wrongdoing, intentional or not. NATO owes reparations to the families of the soldiers killed and injured. It is also timely for Congress to reconsider our support for NATO. How useful is an alliance which destabilizes friendly governments, kills innocent people and creates international provocations?
“My deepest sympathies are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the attack. Accountability of those responsible for the loss of life and an impartial and transparent investigation will be critical to maintaining our vital relationship with Pakistan.”
Pakistan’s democratic National Assembly recently passed a landmark bill to protect women’s rights in Pakistan. The bill still needs to pass the Senate, and deeply rooted cultural practices will make enforcement challenging in some areas, but the legislation represents and important step forward in protecting the rights of women in Pakistan and moving the country forward towards a society that respects the rights of all citizens.
In an email to Yahoo! News, Ambassador Haqqani said that, “a transparent inquiry will strengthen the hands of elected leaders whom I strived to empower. To me, Pakistan and Pakistan’s democracy are far more important than any artificially created crisis over an insignificant memo written by a self-centred businessman. I have served Pakistan and Pakistani democracy to the best of my ability and will continue to do so.”
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, P.J. Crowley, called Haqqani’s resignation, “a loss for US-Pakistan relations.” Indeed, many in Washington have been surprised by the turn of events, describing the memo at the root of the controversy as “a clumsy fake.”
“Haqqani’s accuser, Mr. Ijaz, has a long track record of fabricating false information and self-promotion,” said Bruce Riedel, former CIA officer who chaired President Obama’s Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy. Pakistan’s army is, “using this invented scandal to oust a long time critic” and weaken the civilian government, said Riedel, now a senior analyst at the Brookings Institution, a D.C. think tank. “None of this is good for U.S. interests.”
Sen. Kerry (D–Mass.) noted that Husain Haqqani was “was a strong advocate for his country and the Pakistani people,” and said his “wisdom and insights will be missed here in Washington.”
Many in Washington continue to express concern for the personal safety of Pakistan’s former Ambassador, though on his famous Twitter feed, Ambassador Haqqani confidently states that he will be focusing his energies on “building a new Pakistan free of bigotry & intolerance.” Washington insiders have long asked where Pakistan would be without Husain Haqqani. Despite his resignation, he does not appear to be finished working for democracy and justice in Pakistan. We wish him well, and look forward to seeing what he does next.
Pakistan’s political class is a buzz over rumors that the country’s military and intelligence agency are working behind the scenes to alter the makeup of Pakistan’s government. All of this comes following a closed door meeting on Monday between Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, and President Asif Zardari in which the nation’s military chief allegedly demanded the removal of some civilian officials.
Newsweek Pakistan reported on Twitter early this morning that a “source claims Army has asked President Zardari to sack three officials”, and that “Army also pressing Islamabad to appoint a National Security Adviser” – no doubt they have a recommendation readily at hand.
One of the officials Pakistan’s military is trying to push out appears to be Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani. On his political talk show, Aapas Ki Baat, Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi reported that Pakistan’s Army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) – long suspicious of the outspoken ambassador – no longer wishes to have Husain Haqqani remain at his post.
Husain Haqqani is a controversial figure in Pakistan. He has long issued warnings about the rise of extremism and intolerance in Pakistan, including in the nation’s military and intelligence agencies, and he has openly called for a change in the nation’s national security paradigm.
Some in Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies may see this as a threat to a security strategy in the region that relies on militant groups like the Haqqani network to “[shape] an Afghanistan that is more favourable to Pakistan,” and defend against a perceived threat from India. Right wing commentators for years have called on the ISI to “put [Husain Haqqani] under surveillance if not on a lamp-post,” while others have posted today that the “Time for ruthless accountability of those who’ve betrayed our nation and people nears.”
Today’s issue of The Nation, a right-wing English-language daily, carries a front page headline, “Husain Haqqani in hot waters.” Pakistan’s mainstream media reports that the Ambassador has been summoned to Islamabad to brief the government on recent developments in US-Pakistan relations, but some worry that a trap is being set and that the Ambassador could be used as a reminder to other civilian officials not to stray too far from the establishment line.
Reports that Pakistan’s military and ISI are once again interfering in domestic politics are deeply troubling for Pakistan’s fragile democracy. That the civilian officials being targeted by the ISI appear to be those speaking openly against extremism makes the reports even more dire.
Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir discusses U.S.-Pakistan relations and the fragility of the Pakistani democracy. Jahangir criticizes the United States for sending mixed messages to Pakistanis, saying “the U.S. has to be very clear on what it wants from us.” Jahangir also emphasizes the need for the U.S. to prioritize Pakistani interests in order to improve cooperation. “As an individual ordinary citizen of Pakistan, I want to hear from them that what they want us to do is for the benefit of larger humanity rather than their own, or alone their, security concerns,” she says.