By S. M. Hali

Benedict Arnold’s name in American history is synonymous with treason and betrayal. He was a General, during the American Revolutionary War, who originally fought for the American Continental Army but defected to the British Army. He made surreptitious use of his position in the American Army by obtaining the command of the fort at West Point, New York, and conspired to surrender it to the British forces. After the discovery of his heinous stratagem in September 1780, he switched sides openly and was commissioned into the British Army as a Brigadier General. He even led British forces on raids in Virginia, and nearly captured Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the USA and then wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), who later became the third US President.  When the war ended with American victory, Arnold sought asylum in London where he was well received by King George III and the Tories but frowned upon by the Whigs, whose opinion was that one who has been a traitor to his country of origin may betray his country of adoption too. 

Hussain Haqqani the ousted ambassador of Pakistan to Washington, who has been found guilty of initiating an anti Pakistan document known as “Memogate” by a Juridical Inquiry Commission, is akin to deeds committed by Benedict Arnold of USA. The commission, in its sagacious ruling has commented that Mr. Haqqani was not loyal to the state of Pakistan while serving as an ambassador to Washington. The revelation of the betrayal and its confirmation by the Judicial Commission initially shocked the people of Pakistan into disbelief, but later the common Pakistani citizens and the media not only welcomed the outcome of Memogate Commission Inquiry but also heaved a sigh of relief at the judicious conclusion of the Commission. Mr. Haqqani and his legal counsel Ms. Asma Jahangir have rejected the finding of the commission with the observations that it was a one sided story and that Haqqani’s version was not included in the commission report. However, it has become a sordid state of affairs that any decision by the free and fair judiciary, in whose struggle for freedom and unshackling (in which Advocate Asma Jahangir was a frontrunner), which does not favour the defendant, is trashed as being biased. Irrespective of the denials by Mr. Haqqani and his legal counsel, the general public has been able to get a clear perception on the “Memogate” case.

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Mr. Haqqani has used his right of freedom of speech by issuing his rejoinder through an Op-Ed titled “My real crime: Standing up for US-Pakistan relations” published in The Washington Post (13 June 2012). Unfortunately, Mr. Haqqani’s journalistic “expertise” has done more harm than good to himself. An in-depth scrutiny of Haqqani’s article reflects that he still maintains tendencies of being disloyal and anti Pakistan, as he negatively projected Pakistan by commenting that “the tide of anti-Americanism has been rising in Pakistan for almost a decade and that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis consider the United States as enemy”. Such sweeping statements and baseless value judgment, devoid of any statistical backing about majority in Pakistan can only emanate from the enemies of Pakistan but certainly not from a bona-fide Pakistani, who was erstwhile representative of the hopes and aspirations of 187 million Pakistanis in Washington DC. Mr. Haqqani does not feel any remorse in stating that his detractors in Pakistan’s security services and Jihadi groups accused him of being pro-American but the Judiciary too was being politically motivated and maintaining a biased posture. He does admit to being aware that average Pakistanis had dubbed him with the dubious title of being the “US ambassador to Pakistan in Washington”. The irony is that despite being cognizant of the negative similes associated with his name, Hussain Haqqani appears to have learned no lessons and appears to have become a motivated American rather than a proud Pakistani just like Benedict Arnold of the US who reneged to Britain.

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Mr. Haqqani should take heed of the Memogate Commission report’s another stunning revelation, which had gone unnoticed so far, wherein it states that Hussain Haqqani “may have feared to be prosecuted, arrested and convicted in America, diplomatic immunity notwithstanding.” This opinion of the Commission, contained on Page 89 of its report is concerning the secret fund allocated to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and the former ambassador’s failure to disclose its utilization. According to the findings of the Commission, during his tenure as ambassador to USA, Mr. Haqqani received US$2 million annually four times, i.e. a total of US$ 8 million, but refused to submit any information in respect of the utilization thereof for the reason (according to Mr. Haqqani) that the SSF rules did not permit disclosure and because: ‘they [secret funds] are also used for payments that involve circumvention of strict US laws…”  

Haqqani’s admission that these funds are used in violation of US laws may be his own undoing, which can trigger an intense investigation by the US authorities and could lead to questioning and judicial probe of Haqqani by US authorities, since he no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity. Eight million dollars of the public exchequer is a huge amount and the admission of secret funds being disbursed by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC is in apparent violation of Article 84 of the Constitution of Pakistan [that governs supplementary or excess grants such as SSF represented]. It can open another Pandora’s Box and a can of worms for the now defunct ambassador; since questions are being raised whether American politicians were receiving illegal donations from Pakistani-Americans who in turn were pocketing cash withdrawn surreptitiously in increments of just under $10,000 per withdrawal from the National Bank of Pakistan in Washington DC to avoid suspicion. Whatever the case, Mr. Hussain Haqqani got what he deserved but his woes are from being over and the country of his adoption, the USA may yet tighten the screws on him. So much for betrayals as apparently its perpetrators do not learn from history.