Pakistani envoy to U.S. resigns over memo
Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Hussein Haqqani, is seen in Multan, Pakistan in this August 19, 2010 file photo. The envoy said he has resigned over claims he wrote a memo to Washington asking for its help in reining in the country's powerful military. / AP Photo/B.K. Bangash
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's envoy to the United States said he has resigned over claims he wrote a memo to Washington asking for its help in reining in the country's powerful military.
Hussein Haqqani denied Tuesday any role in writing or delivering the memo.
The affair has highlighted the divide between Pakistan's weak civilian government and the military, as well as the role the United States plays in the affairs of the country.
After the allegations were made last week, Haqqani was summoned to Islamabad to meet the army and intelligence chiefs.
He told The Associated Press, "I have resigned my services as ambassador and am happy to face an inquiry."
The controversy began on October 10, when Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, wrote in the Financial Times that an unnamed Pakistani diplomat had asked him to help compose a message to be transmitted from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to then-U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Adm. Mike Mullen.
According to Ijaz, in the week after U.S. Navy SEALs tracked and killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, Zardari sought U.S. support to block any attempt by his army generals to stage a coup, writes CBS News' Farhan Bokhari.
The memo shocked many Pakistanis because it offered to replace Pakistan's national security hierarchy with people favorable to Washington in exchange for help.
The identity of the Pakistani diplomat cited by Ijaz has never been confirmed, though many politicians suspected it was Haqqani. Haqqani denied the allegations but offered his resignation to end the controversy.
Some commentators have called for those involved in the scandal to be tried for treason.
Though Pakistan's army responded to the U.S. raid with anger (once it was revealed that neither civilian nor military leaders had advance information of the operation), senior generals subsequently told CBS News on background that seizing power was never considered as an option.
Even with Haqqani's resignation, the controversy may undermine relations between Zardari and the army leadership.
"I think the element of trust between President Zardari and the army will suffer as we go forward," warned Hasan Askari Rizvi, a notable Pakistani commentator, told Bokhari. "I can see the army keeping a closer watch on President Zardari as they will continue to suspect his moves."
Western diplomats cautioned that the controversy unleashed in the wake of Ijaz's claim will continue to fuel popular anti-Zardari sentiment.
"I don't believe this controversy alone will bring down the president, but I can see how this problem will hang over his head" said a Western diplomat in Islamabad who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity. "President Zardari's opponents will keep on using this case to bring him in more disrepute. People will make this issue look like a case where Zardari tried to stab the army in the back and asked the U.S. for support."
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