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March 26, 2017

Rather simple


March 26, 2017

There was another twist to the Husain Haqqani scandal when a letter, written by the PPP government to the then ambassador of the US, was made public. The letter purportedly granted the ambassador the power to issue one-year visas to US officials without having to refer the applications to the concerned authorities in Pakistan. Many have pounced on this as the smoking gun which proves that Haqqani was not acting alone and that the PPP government was complicit in issuing visas to US spies. Gilani, however, says that such a letter was routine and that it in no way was a green light to allow US spooks into the country. He instead turned his guns on Haqqani and insinuated that ‘someone’ allowed him to leave the country even though the government had placed him on the ECL. The PPP has tried to have it both ways on the Haqqani issue. It has blamed him for the presence of US spies in the country, with Khursheed Shah even going so far as to call him a traitor, but has also claimed that none of what he or the government did was out of the ordinary. The impression given is that of a party in spin-doctor mode, trying to protect itself in any way it can.

Getting to the bottom of the matter is actually rather simple. It does require, as Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said, the formation of a parliamentary commission. All that is needed is for the government to finally release the Abbottabad Commission report. When Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan, the PML-N was one of the loudest in demanding a commission investigate the circumstances surrounding the raid. The Abbottabad Commission interviewed Haqqani and thoroughly looked into the visa issue. Representatives from across the political spectrum have called for the report to be released. The chairperson of the commission has said that the report answers all questions about the Bin Laden incident. Making it public will not only settle the matter of whether Haqqani was solely responsible for facilitating US spies, it will also answer equally important questions about how Osama bin Laden managed to live in the country undetected for so many years and how the US Navy SEALS were able to enter Pakistan airspace undetected. The public has a right to know about all these unanswered questions. Selected leaks of documents are not sufficient when the entire story is contained in the Abbottabad Commission report.

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