Wishful Journalism (part 3): The Firing of Hussain Haqqani

Mar 14th, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

President Zardari may be the most popular person for the “Wishful Journalists” to try to pray out of office, but he is not the only one. In part 2 of the Wishful Journalism series, we looked at the case of Rehman Malik. Today, we consider Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, and the journalists who have been wishing for his removal for almost two years.

Sajjad Malik recently wrote in Daily Times, “Rumours rife about Haqqani’s removal”:

Rumours about the removal of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani are once again making rounds in the Foreign Office, with several top diplomats pulling strings to step into his shoes.

Senior diplomatic sources said the rumours about possible removal of Haqqani had gained momentum amid reports that the US may not oppose his replacement because of his widespread unpopularity among khakis.

Malik’s article goes on to not name anyone who actually says Haqqani is being removed. But this is an old line. Last November, Anjum Niaz wrote that the Army was going to “pull the plug on our leaders” in which she predicted the end of the Zardari government and the imminent firing of Haqqani from his post. Obviously, this never happened.

Anjum Niaz went on to suggest that Haqqani could not return to Pakistan because he would be in danger if he returned to his homeland.

“The [Pakistani] military clearly has decided that it would like to have him removed,” says The Boston Globe, citing a congressional aide not authorised to speak to the media. “If he returned home, friends say, his safety could be threatened,” reports the Globe. “Haqqani hasn’t returned to Islamabad for eight months.”

Actually, Haqqani was just in Pakistan where he met with the President and Gen. Kayani to discuss national security matters.

The president said the US drone attacks on Pakistani territory undermined national consensus on the war against terrorism.

Zardari expressed these views during a meeting with US National Security Adviser General James Jones – accompanied by US Ambassador to Islamabad Anne W Patterson and other US officials – who called on him at the Presidency.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani were also present at the meeting.

Anjum Niaz appears to have very unreliable sources, if they even exist.

As for the latest rumours of his imminent removal, these all appear to have started from the same source: an article in The Nation by Kaswar Klasra. Of course, this article also contains no sources, and appears to be based only on speculation and wishful thinking. What is missing from Klasra’s article, in fact, are statements from the Foreign Office or the Embassy. Any proper reporter worth his weight in salt would call the official offices to inquire about these rumours. I don’t know if Klasra took the time to call anyone, but he certainly did not report what answers he was given if he did.

I decided to check for myself to see if there is any truth to these rumours, so I called the Foreign Office and I called the Embassy in Washington. I was told by both offices that there was no plan to remove Mr. Haqqani, and that the rumours were just that — rumours.

But at this point, rumours of Haqqani being removed are a little bit ridiculous. After all, he has almost completed his entire appointment of two years, and has even served longer than other previous Ambassadors to the USA:

Ashraf Qazi served as Ambassador to the USA from 19 August 2002 to 6 August 2004. General (Retd) Jehangir Karamat served as Ambassador from 17 November 2004 to 3 June 2006. Maj. Gen (Retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani served from 5 June 2006 to 9 May 2008.

Hussain Haqqani began his term as Ambassador on 26 May 2008. He has been in this office for almost his entire two year appointment, despite the rather constant predictions of his removal.

Here, I will make some predictions of my own. Gen. Kayani is scheduled to retire in November. When he retires from his post, nobody will say that he was forced out. He will have served his appointment and that will be that. These same reporters,  even if Haqqani completes his appointment, will say that he is being forced out. There will likely be some unnamed ‘sources’ that say that he was not offered an extension because he is viewed unfavorably. But is there any evidence for this? Looking at history, as we did above, the answer is no.

It is not for this blog to take any position on Hussain Haqqani and whether he should be Ambassador, or if he should be offered an extension of his appointment. There are plenty of people who have their own opinions about his performance, and they are entitled to whatever opinion they want. But Haqqani has served as Ambassador for almost his entire term, and longer than previous Ambassadors. Please, leave the wishful thinking to drawing rooms and verandas and publish proper facts in the news.

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  1. Zardari Specific Judiciary/Accountability & News Reports/Press Clippings.

    Pakistani Judiciary is nowadays very fond of quoting Quran and Hadith in any Detailed Judgement particularly if the case is related with Elected Member of the Parliament specifically Pakistan Peoples Party and Asif Ali Zardari. The quotation from the same Quran and Hadith are conveniently “ignored” rather “avoided” while dealing with other cases.

    Whereas the same Judiciary conveniently “Forget” these Press Clippings and same Judiciary was very much in the place when this Loot and Plunder was being done openly! Where was the Suo Moto Notice and talk of Fire and Brimstones.Judiciary also talks of learning “Facts” about Missing Files of National Accountability Bureau and lot more through News Reports and News Clippings particularly when these are filed by two very biased and partial correspondents of The News International/Jang Group of Newspapers i.e. Mr. Ansar Abbasi and Mr. Ahmad Noorani. Reference: SC will be asked to secure 12 Swiss cartons in London By Ahmad Noorani Sunday, December 06, 2009
    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25933 Is evidence with NAB safe from saboteurs? By Ansar Abbasi Sunday, December 06, 2009 http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25932

  2. Mr. Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor, The News International – Jang Group of Newspapers is very fond of quoting Foreign Press particularly when Foreign Press [Pro Zionist] is negative on President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and PPP. Shaheen Sehbai while quoting The New York Times: “The problems in Afghanistan have only been compounded by the fragility of Mr. Obama’s partner in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, who is so weak that his government seems near collapse.” The Washington Post in a report by two correspondents said: “Zardari’s political weakness is an additional hazard for a new bilateral relationship…The administration expects Zardari’s position to continue to weaken, leaving him as a largely ceremonial president even if he manages to survive in office.”

    Should we believe Mr Shaheen Sehbai or his Editor in Chief Mir Shakil ur Rahman’s Letter Addressed to Mr Shaheen Sehbai asking for his resign on filing Concocted Stories in The News International- Read the details

    Credibility of Shaheen Sehbai, Mir Shakil ur Rahman and Jang Group of Newspapers. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/11/credibility-of-shaheen-sehbai-mir.html

    To: Shaheen Sehbai, Editor, The News
    From: MSR, Editor-in-Chief
    Date: 2/28/02
    Re: Violation of policy

    I am constrained to bring to your notice several, and repeated, violation of editorial policies clearly understood between us. Infact, these policies have also been agreed in writing. On 26th March, 2001, you had published a one sided, incorrect and libelous article against Mr. Aittiazaz Bob Din, a well known businessman residing in the United States. Although Mr. Bob Din had cited person differences between the two of you, dating back to your stay in the United States, as the motive behind the unfounded allegations against him, I had disregarded this suggestion at that time and had judged the matter purely on merit. As you will recall, you were unable to substantiate the serious charges you had leveled against him. It was only through my personal apologies and the intervention of mutual acquaintances that we were able to dissuade Mr. Din from suing the News for defamation and libel.

    On two different occasions, you published unfavourable articles about PIA, which were of uncertain veracity and did not contain their point of view, as a result of which they denounced these articles in a press conference, threatened to take legal action, suspended our advertisements and also stopped putting our papers on PIA flights. Needless to say, these measures hurt us financially, damaged our reputation and took a great deal of pacification to undo.

    I would also refer to the written terms of our agreement at the time of your appointment under which you are required to discuss the top stories of the day and other important editorial matters with me and seek the Editor-in-chiefs point of view and verdict on contentious issues? To my recollection, you have never deemed it fit to consult me on any matter. In this connection, I would further like to refer to our meeting on the eve of Eid in which group Editor Daily Jang was also present and we discussed the fallout of the story printed a few days earlier in the News ( again without consulting me, I might add ) which was perceived to be damaging to our national interest and elicited severe reaction by the Government. It had been agreed that we would contact relevant Government functionaries and arrange to meet with them to discuss the issue and also convey our point of view. Regrettably, you chose not to go to Islamabad and attend the meeting even though this had been clearly agreed. You even rebuffed senior Government officials who contacted you on the phone by hanging up on them. Sham Sahib and I left several messages with your assistant but again, you chose not to take or return our calls.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to point out again, that it is a frequent complaint that you do not interact with people. Not only have senior Government officials protested that you are inaccessible to them, but even your own staff complains that you are hardly available for meetings, guidance and discussions.

    I must convey my disappointment to you at all these issues, as I must convey my disappointment with the lack of general progress in the improvement of the News. The number of mistakes and blunders being committed, failure to follow agreed journalistic ethics – as pointed out to you from time to time by EMD have all resulted in financial set backs as well as loss of credibility for the News. I have only recounted some of the problems besetting the Jang group. It is quite evident that matters are not proceeding as we had agreed. However, before I make up my mind, I would like to hear your point of view.

    I look forward to hearing from you about the serious issues that I have raised above and any solutions that you may propose.

    Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman


  3. […] Wishful Journalism (part 3): The Firing of Hussain Haqqani … […]

  4. […] year we ran a short series on ‘Wishful Journalism’ that included an piece about media predictions that Husain Haqqani’s removal was imminent. These predictions were eventually proven incorrect, and the Ambassador was given an extension of […]

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