The Cable

Haqqani resigns as Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington over “memogate”

Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani has officially resigned as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States in order to facilitate the inquiry into the "memogate" scandal.

"I have requested PM Gilani to accept my resignation as Pakistan Ambasssador to US," Haqqani tweeted from Pakistan, where he has returned to answer allegations that he colluded with Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to draft a May 10 memo to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that offered to revamp Pakistan's national security leadership in exchange for U.S. support to prevent a purported military coup.

"I have much to contribute to building a new Pakistan free of bigotry & intolerance. Will focus energies on that," Haqqani tweeted.

According to Pakistan's The Tribune, a spokesman for Gilani said that if Haqqani is cleared of any wrongdoing in the memogate scandal he could be reinstated as ambassador.

Haqqani has adamantly denied any involvement in the drafting or delivery of the memo, which was delivered to Mullen via former National Security Advisor Jim Jones.

Haqqani had offered to resign last week as Ijaz publicly accused him of engineering the memo, which contained an offer to clean house of elements within the powerful military and intelligence agencies that have supported Islamist radicals and the Taliban, a move that would have drastically altered Pakistani foreign policy. The unsigned memo requested that Mullen send an urgent message to Pakistan's military and intelligence to scuttle their plans to take down Pakistan's civilian government, led by President Asif Ali Zardari.

Mullen said initially that he didn't remember receiving the memo, but later confirmed to The Cable that he did in fact receive it, but took no action.

"There was nothing to suggest at the time that this memo had any Pakistani imprimatur whatsoever," a military source close to Mullen told The Cable. "He did not know the source and the memo was not signed so there was no authenticity.... And the idea that the Pakistani military was pursuing some sort of overthrow was ludicrous, especially in the wake of the [bin Laden] raid. They were under intense public scrutiny at that point. The idea had zero credibility."

In an e-mail to The Cable Tuesday, Haqqani maintained his innocence.

"I have resigned to bring closure to this meaningless controversy threatening our fledgling democracy. A transparent inquiry will strengthen the hands of elected leaders whom I strived to empower," he said. "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." 

Ijaz put out a statement as well:

I respect the decision of Pakistan's prime minister to accept the resignation today of Amb. Husain Haqqani after a meeting of Pakistan's top civilian and military leaders in Islamabad. I welcome the prime minister's announcement of a high level independent and credible inquiry and reiterate my commitment to full and transparent cooperation with the competent authorities of the Pakistani government in ascertaining the truth of these circumstances. I was asked in late October to assist the government's security agencies in determining the veracity of evidence in my possession. I believe their preliminary findings played an important role in today's events. As the government proceeds in its inquiry, I stand ready to assist in any manner necessary. I wish Amb. Haqqani and his family well. 

UPDATE: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) praised Haqqani in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon.

"I was sorry to learn of the resignation of Ambassador Husain Haqqani.  He was a strong advocate for his country and the Pakistani people," Kerry said. "I respect the Pakistani government's decision, but Ambassador Haqqani's wisdom and insights will be missed here in Washington as we continue to work through the ups and downs of our relationship."

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