In a shocking turn of events for the ongoing libel case between Ambassador Husain Haqqani and Ahmed Quraishi over claims by Quraishi that Haqqani threatened to reveal state secrets if fired over the Kerry-Lugar bill, Ahmed Quraishi’s main source says that he misrepresented their reporting and says The Nation publishes “unsupported accusations.”
Islamabad’s man in Washington, Amb. Husain Haqqani, has sued The Nation for libel after the newspaper published an article Oct. 14 accusing the ambassador of threatening to reveal state secrets if he were sacked due to the botched rollout of the Kerry-Lugar Pakistani aid bill.
The article in The Nation appears to be based entirely on an Oct. 12 Cable item quoting Haqqani as saying he was not being fired and also citing Pakistani sources as saying that “Haqqani has reams of documents that could embarrass the forces aligned against him and sacking him could open up a Pandora’s box of controversy.”
In the Nation article, however, writer Ahmed Quraishi, shown at right, states without evidence that the Pakistani source was “close to Ambassador Haqqani,” and states without evidence that Haqqani is “contemplating going public with embarrassing Pakistani official documents.” Neither allegation was part of the article in The Cable.
The title of Quraishi’s article goes even further in misrepresenting the reporting in The Cable, and reads, “If fired, Haqqani threatens to unveil ‘reams’ of Pakistan’s secrets.”
(Quraishi also mislabeled the author of The Cable as “Bill” Rogin; not sure where he got that one.)
Leaving Ahmed Quraishi humiliated, the magazine takes to task Majeed Nizami and The Nation for irresponsible reporting in general.
Nizami and The Nation also stand accused this month of endangering the life of Wall Street Journal South Asia correspondent Matthew Rosenberg, after publishing a front-page article Nov. 5 accusing him of being an agent for the CIA, Blackwater, and as having ties to the Mossad, the famous Israeli intelligence agency.
Sourced to one anonymous “official of a law enforcement agency,” the article sought to portray Rosenberg’s meetings with various officials and travel around the region as evidence he was something other than a regular journalist doing his job.
The Rosenberg article prompted the leaders of 21 top international journalism organizations to write to the government of Pakistan asking for protection for foreign journalists placed in danger by such unsupported accusations. The Journal‘s Daniel Pearl was killed in Pakistan in 2002.
“We strongly support press freedoms across the world. But this irresponsible article endangered the life of one journalist and could imperil others,” the letter stated. “It is particularly upsetting that this threat has come from among our own colleagues.”
Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thompson also sent a separate letter to Nizami and The Nation‘s Shireen Mazari defending Rosenberg’s status as a well-respected, objective reporter and demanding a retraction.
“Our profession has been done a great disservice by the utterly baseless article,” Thompson wrote. “At present, your paper is guilty of spreading falsehoods, but it could ultimately be complicit in a far greater tragedy unless this wrong is corrected.”
While this represents serious legal trouble for Ahmed Quraishi’s claims that he was not irresponsibly defaming the the Ambassador, it also demonstrates an added voice of influence to the many international news organizations that have criticized The Nation for unreliable reporting and unsupported allegations.
We hope that this will finally break through to Nizami and Mazari as well as all Pakistani media that they are truly embarrassing not only themselves but our country in the eyes of the world when they engage in such irreputable acts.