Hussain Haqqani, formerly member of Jamaat–e-Islami, part time journalist and alleged originating godfather of “Lifafa” journalism (accepting gratification for promoting other peoples’ heinous agenda through media), renowned for his political flip-flops for self aggrandizement, has mastered the art of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
Mr. Haqqani commenced his political career as president of the militant Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a far-right Islamist political party, which advocates religious fundamentalism and a theocracy-based government system in Pakistan. Purportedly, while leading the Jamiat-e-Talaba, Haqqani organized a protest rally against the US Consulate but following a surreptitious understanding with the CIA, he backed out of the protest, leaving his followers in the lurch. Later on he capitalized on this incident to present himself as pro-US to his American benefactors.
Hussain Haqqani’s next assignments were singing praises for the totalitarian regime of the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. Following Zia’s death, Haqqani hung on to the coat tails of Zia’s protégé, Mian Nawaz Sharif, whose faction of Muslim League was created to counter Benazir Bhutto’s resurgent Pakistan People’s Party. Having served as media advisor and in the political campaign of Mian Nawaz Sharif, Haqqani had his eyes set on the coveted post of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US. Instead Sharif appointed Haqqani as High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. The moment Mian Nawaz Sharif’s government was toppled, Hussain Haqqani performed another flip-flop and joined Sharif’s arch rival Benazir Bhutto.
The 1999 coup of General Musharraf saw Haqqani attempting to reach out to the dictatorial regime, seeking another political appointment. Spurned by the military junta, Haqqani now found it opportune to spew venom against the military as well as his former party the rightist Islamists. Hussain Haqqani’s series of anti-Pakistan and anti-establishment articles, gleefully carried by the Indian Express and the western media, endeared him to Pakistan’s detractors. From 2004-08, Haqqani was an associate professor for international relations at Boston University. This appointment enabled him to echo western sentiments on Islam as well as take potshots at the Pakistan military. Co-chairing the Project on Islam and Democracy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, and co-editing the international scholarly journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology along with producing his controversial book "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military" for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; ‘Islam’s Medieval Outposts’ for the journal Foreign Policy, and ‘The Role of Islam in Pakistan’s Future’ for Washington Quarterly speak volumes for Hussain’s bent of mind at this juncture.
Haqqani endeared himself to the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, lobbying for Benazir Bhutto during her years of self-imposed exile and researching and helping co-write Benazir Bhutto’s book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West (London: Simon and Schuster, 2008) published posthumously.
Hussain Haqqani was finally rewarded with his dream job, when he was appointed as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US in 2008 by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Sadly, instead of serving Pakistan’s interests, he became another “Benedict Arnold”. Hussain Haqqani’s shenanigans raised eyebrows in Islamabad, being contrary to Pakistan’s wellbeing e.g. granting visas to visit Pakistan to dubious characters like Raymond Davis and the infamous Blackwater group, a notorious private contractor, which was spreading its tentacles in Pakistan for undercover activities on behalf of the US agencies. Numerous anti-Pakistan articles in the western media as well as US legislation curbing financial support and levying stringent conditions on Pakistan carried Hussain Haqqani’s footprint.
The scandal that ultimately brought about Hussain Haqqani’s downfall is the “Memogate”, which was aimed at vilifying Pakistan Army, the ISI and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. On 17 November 2011, American businessman Mansoor Ijaz publicly accused Husain Haqqani of involvement with a secret memo to US Chairman Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen asking for US intervention in the affairs of Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies. In June 2012, a three-member judicial commission appointed by Pakistan, released a report concluding that the memo had been written on instruction by Haqqani, and that, in doing so, the Ambassador was not loyal to Pakistan and had sought to undermine the security of the country’s nuclear assets, the armed forces, the Inter Services Intelligence and the Constitution. Whereas Mansoor Ijaz cooperated with the judicial commission providing relevant data, Hussain Haqqani feigned the loss of his Blackberry, failed to support his defence and later to save himself from the long arm of the law, fled the country under dubious circumstances. He continues to disgorge malice towards Pakistan and its institutions but his days of political flip-flops are over.
The writer is a former group captain of PAF, who also served as air and naval attaché at Riyadh. Currently, he is a columnist, analyst and host of programme Defence and Diplomacy on PTV.