Haqqani didn’t have authority to issue visas, says Zardari

March 23, 2017

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FORMER president Asif Ali Zardari says not making public the Abbottabad Commission report was the decision of the establishment of the time.
FORMER president Asif Ali Zardari says not making public the Abbottabad Commission report was the decision of the establishment of the time.

KARACHI: Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday defended former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, saying that neither he had held the authority to issue visas to Americans nor had he ever said anything to that effect.

“Even Haqqani has denied [that he had authorised visas]. He himself says he is being misread,” the PPP leader said in a Geo News television interview.

“There are many people in the embassy other than the envoy who scramble visas if they are important.”

However, the former president said he did not agree generally with Mr Haqqani who, according to him, believed himself to be an “intellectual” and a “philosopher of Washington”.

“Our views on things differ vastly,” Mr Zardari said.

“I do not agree with [parts of Haqqani’s] book either because he has spoken against Pakistan in it,” the former president said.

When asked whether the PPP would concede that the appointment of Mr Haqqani in the United States was a wrong decision, Mr Zardari said: “The time when I was president, [former military ruler retired Gen Pervez] Musharraf was here. So I called [former ambassador Mahmud Ali] Durrani back and sent Haqqani there. He did what I needed him to do at that time.”

When asked why the then PPP government did not make public the Abbottabad Commission report about the killing in a US raid in 2011 of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden, the former president replied: “It was the decision of parliament at the time. It was the decision of the establishment at the time.

“It was not in the interest of Pakistan to make the report public.”

He said that if the federal government deemed it favourable, it should publish the report.

When asked about the report being leaked, the former president said that those who prepared the reports were “after all, humans”.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2017