Ex-Pakistani envoy to U.S. surviving "memogate"

Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, center, exits the Supreme Court after meeting his lawyer in the secret memo scandal case in Islamabad Dec. 22, 2011. AFP/Getty Images

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's former ambassador to the U.S. said Monday that a travel ban imposed on him during the investigation of a controversial memo sent to Washington has been lifted.

The decision suggests that a scandal that at one point looked as though it could lead to the downfall of Pakistan's government may be losing steam.

Husain Haqqani said in a statement that the court commission investigating what the Pakistani media calls "memogate" removed the ban. The commission could not immediately be reached for comment.

Haqqani resigned in November and returned to Islamabad to answer allegations that he masterminded the note, which asks for Washington's help in reining in the Pakistani army in exchange for security policies favorable to the U.S.

The memo, sent to Washington following the May 2011 American operation that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistan army town, outraged the powerful military and exposed the apparent fragility of the country's democratically elected government.

Haqqani, who denies any link to the memo, said he now intended to travel to United States to join family there.

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"Anywhere else, this matter would have been laid to rest long ago," Haqqani said. "The memo had no impact on US policy and was consigned to the dustbin by its recipient."

He said the Supreme Court had given the commission two more months to investigate the affair, and that he would be available to testify whenever it required.

Just a few weeks ago, there was speculation that the "memogate" scandal could lead to the demise of President Asif Ali Zardari. But last week, the main accuser — a Pakistani-American businessman who claimed to have delivered the note to Adm. Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer at the time — said he couldn't come to Pakistan to testify, citing security fears.

That appears to mean the case is a much weaker one, even assuming the accuser, Mansoor Ijaz, had a "smoking gun" linking Haqqani and President Zardari to the memo.

Many observers have since predicted that the probe is heading nowhere. Some media reports have speculated about a possible agreement between the army and the government to shelve the case.

Haqqani has won support from some U.S. lawmakers and pro-democracy activists in Pakistan, who painted him as a victim of army meddling in the democratic process. They questioned why Haqqani, who had not been accused of any crime, was not permitted to travel abroad.

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