Pakistan's U.S. ambassador offers to step down, says he has done nothing wrong
President Zardari has not made a decision on his offer to step down, a spokesman says
A businessman says he was asked to deliver a secret memo to Washington
Ambassador Haqqani is alleged to have been involved in the back-channel offer
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States has offered to resign amid alleged links to a secret offer to Washington by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to cut down the powers of the country’s military leadership.
“I serve at the pleasure of the president of Pakistan and the prime minister,” Ambassador Husain Haqqani told CNN Wednesday.
“I have communicated my willingness to resign or participate in any inquiry that brings an end to the vilification against the democratic government of Pakistan currently being undertaken by some elements in the country.”
Haqqani’s resignation offer follows swirling media reports that Zardari asked Washington in May to help him hold on to power because he feared a military coup after the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Last month Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz sparked the political firestorm when he claimed in an op-ed piece for the UK-based Financial Times that a Pakistani diplomat used him to make Zardari’s back-channel plea for help by delivering a secret memo to U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen, then Washington’s top military official.
Ijaz claimed Zardari offered a new “national security team” to take over the powers of the military leadership in exchange for Washington’s assistance.
Media reports in Pakistan have speculated that Haqqani played a key role in the alleged offer.
Haqqani has denied the allegations, saying they are part of ongoing “smear campaigns” that have accused him of trying to undermine Pakistan’s armed forces.
“No memo of the kind being discussed in the media was drafted or delivered by me,” Haqqani said. “I have not been named so far as having done anything wrong by anyone except through innuendo.”
The political controversy threatens to shake an already tense relationship between Pakistan’s military and civilian leadership and sets the stage for a potential test of strength between the president and Pakistan’s Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani, who is widely believed to be the most powerful man in Pakistan.
Amid growing pressure, Zardari has summoned Haqqani to Islamabad.
The president’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said Zardari has yet to make a decision on Haqqani’s offer to step down.
“I think a meeting needs to take place and only then can further appropriate measures be taken,” Babar said.
Babar rejected allegations that Zardari was involved in a secret back-channel attempt to oust Pakistan’s military leadership.
“The president has no knowledge, has denied and was not involved in any of these allegations,” Babar said.
Journalist Nasir Habib contributed to this report.