Husain Haqqani

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Husain Haqqani
حسین حقّانی
24th Pakistan Ambassador to the United States
In office
13 April 2008 – 22 November 2011
Preceded by Mahmud Ali Durrani
Succeeded by Sherry Rehman
High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka
In office
11 May 1992 – 28 June 1993
Preceded by Tariq Mir
Succeeded by Tariq Altaf
Personal details
Born (1956-07-01) 1 July 1956 (age 59)
Karachi, Pakistan
Spouse(s) Farahnaz Ispahani
Children 3 daughters
1 son
Alma mater University of Karachi
Profession Journalist, diplomat
Religion Islam

Husain Haqqani (Urdu: حسین حقّانی; born 1 July 1956), alternately spelled Hussain Haqqani, is a Pakistani journalist and formerly Pakistan Ambassador to the United States.

Haqqani worked as a journalist from 1980 to 1988, and then as political adviser for Nawaz Sharif and spokesperson for Benazir Bhutto. From 1992 to 1993 he was ambassador to Sri Lanka. In 1999, he was exiled following criticisms against the government of then-President Pervez Musharraf. From 2004 to 2008 he taught international relations at Boston University.[1] He was appointed as Pakistan's ambassador in April 2008, but his tenure ended after the Memogate incident, when the claim was made that he had been insufficiently protective of Pakistan's interests. A judicial commission was set up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to probe the allegations against him. According to commission's report which was issued in June 2012, Haqqani was declared guilty of authoring a memo which called for direct US intervention into Pakistan.[2]

Haqqani is currently a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. and co-editor of Hudson's signature journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology,[3] as well as Resident Fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Haqqani began his interest in journalism in high school. In 1973 he joined Karachi University. He frequently visited the library at the US consulate, reading volumes of American history. Later, when students wanted to attack the consulate as part of a protest against the United States, Haqqani refused.[5] Haqqani received a B.A. degree with distinction in 1977 and a MA degree in International Relations in 1980 from the University of Karachi.[6]

Haqqani worked as a full-time journalist from 1980–88. He covered the war in Afghanistan for Voice of America radio; served as the Pakistan and Afghanistan correspondent for Far Eastern Economic Review; and worked in Hong Kong as the East Asian correspondent for the London-based Arabia: the Islamic World Review.[citation needed] He worked for the state broadcaster Pakistan Television during the general elections of 1985.[7]

Political career[edit]

Haqqani started his political career at the University of Karachi, where he became President of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami.[7][8] Haqqani explained his association with Islamists as a student in an article in the Asian Wall Street Journal. "Over the last three decades, I have alternated between being attracted to and repulsed by political Islam."[9] In recent years, he has emerged as a staunch critic of radical Islamist groups.[10][11]

He started his national political career as a supporter of Zia-ul-Haq.[8] In 1988, he worked in the political campaign for an alliance led by Nawaz Sharif, who was subsequently elected Prime Minister. In 1990 he became Sharif's special assistant and until 1992 functioned as his spokesman. In 1992 he became one of Pakistan's youngest ambassadors, serving in Sri Lanka until 1993. From 1993 to 1995, he was spokesman to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto; from 1995–96, he was chairman of the House Building Finance Corporation.[6]

From 2004–08, Haqqani was an associate professor for international relations at Boston University. In addition, he co-chaired the Project on Islam and Democracy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, and was co-editor of the international scholarly journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Among his numerous writing credits are "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military" for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; "Islam's Medieval Outposts" for the journal Foreign Policy, and "The Role of Islam in Pakistan's Future" for Washington Quarterly.[citation needed][12][13]

Ambassador to the United States[edit]

Pakistan Embassy residence in Washington, D.C.

In 2008, Haqqani was appointed as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.

After the Raymond Davis affair in 2011, the relations between Pakistan and the United States soured. Intelligence sharing between the two countries was suspended and tensions increased between the army and the civilian government. Haqqani was accused by General Kayani of acting in American interests and granting visas to US nationals against the army directives.[14]

Alleged secret memo and resignation[edit]

Further information: Memogate (Pakistan)

Roughly a week after the raid on Bin Laden, Haqqani reportedly asked a Pakistani American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to pass a message to the Americans, at the request of President Zardari, that the Pakistani military was planning to intervene. Ijaz revealed this in an opinion column in the Financial Times in October 2011, and mentioned that the message was communicated in an undated and unsigned memo sent to Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US military. Later released to the press, the memo also spoke of a "unique window of opportunity" for the civilian government to gain the upper hand due to the military's complicity in the Bin Laden affair.[15] According to Ijaz, the military intended to stage a coup to wash off the embarrassment issuing from the raid on Bin Laden, and he drafted the memo in consultation with Haqqani.[16]

Haqqani resigned but denied writing the memo. He was recalled to Pakistan and accused of high treason. On the basis of a petition filed by the PML-N, the Supreme Court of Pakistan launched an investigation overriding the government, which had also started a parliamentary investigation.[17][18]

While a judicial commission appointed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan investigated, Haqqani was not allowed to leave the country. He sought refuge in the presidential palace and later the Prime Minister's residence, citing threats to his life by extremist groups that accused him of treason.[19]

In January 2012, Pakistan's Supreme Court allowed Haqqani to leave the country.[20] The Judicial Commission completed its investigation apparently without hearing from Haqqani, and submitted its report in June 2012 in sealed envelopes. It asserted that Haqqani had indeed authored the memo, whose purpose was taken to be assuring the United States that the civilian government was its ally.[21][22]:119 It also declared that Haqqani had undermined the country's security and he had misled Ijaz to believe the memorandum had the Pakistani president's approval.[23] The commission's report further stated that "Husain Haqqani was not loyal to Pakistan" in drafting that memo.[2][24]

Pakistan's Supreme Court noted that the commission was only expressing its opinion.[25]

Haqqani said the Commission's report was one-sided and defended his patriotism[26] and his innocence.[27] Haqqani has not returned to Pakistan, citing threats on his life.[28]


Haqqani has authored two books on Pakistan. The first, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, was published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 2005. In the book, Haqqani examines the relationship between Pakistan's armed forces and Islamist groups as a function of Pakistan's search for identity and security.[29][30] Haqqani's second book, Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding, was published by PublicAffairs on November 5, 2013. In this book, Haqqani reviews the history of U.S.-Pakistan relations. Magnificent Delusions was included in a list of the "best books about the rest of the world" by The Daily Beast, who called it "compulsory reading for members of Congress and officials at the State Department."[31]


Husain Haqqani has described radical Islam as "the single most dangerous idea that has emerged in the Muslim world".[32] He has called on Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants, and has cautioned the U.S. against trying to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban, who he describes as "a movement with an extreme ideology [that] will not compromise easily on their deeply held beliefs."[33][34]

The Wall Street Journal described Haqqani as "a hostage" while he was in Pakistan and published an interview with him from the Prime Minister's house in which he outlined why he was hated by Pakistan's intelligence services and Jihadi groups.[35] Michel Hirsh, writing in The Atlantic, described Haqqani as "The Last Friendly Pakistani" towards the US[36] Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for The Atlantic and Bloomberg News, has been a consistent supporter of Haqqani, calling him "The Hardest Working Man in Washington" and criticising Pakistan's military and security services[37][38] Simon Tisdall of The Guardian called Haqqani "an instinctive ally of the west" and attributed Memogate to the ambassador's difficult relationship with Pakistan intelligence service.[39]

Haqqani testified in the US Congress in December 2015 stating that the sale of F-16s to Pakistan would only lead to their usage against India,[40][41] which led to the Congress putting the sale on hold.[42] Pakistan's Senate Defense Committee blamed him for working with pro-Indian lobbyists in Washington.[43]

Personal life[edit]

In March 2000, Haqqani married Farahnaz Ispahani, a former producer at CNN and MSNBC, member of the Pakistani National Assembly, and the granddaughter of Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani, Pakistan's first ambassador to Washington. The Pakistan Ambassador's residence in Washington was purchased and donated by her grandfather.[12] Haqqani has lived in the United States since 2002.[44]


  1. ^ "Boston University Faculty Biography". 
  2. ^ a b "Memogate commission declares Haqqani guilty". The Nation. Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  3. ^ "Hudson Institute Biography". 
  4. ^ "Husain Haqqani: Fall 2015 Resident Fellow". 
  5. ^ Pakistan Daily Times, October 25, 2008
  6. ^ a b Husain Haqqani, curriculum vitae, Boston University, retrieved 2016-01-03.
  7. ^ a b Sehgal, Ikram (17 May 2012). "The 'Haqqani' network". The News International. 
  8. ^ a b Hali, S. M. (30 October 2013). "Flip-flops of Hussain Haqqani". The Nation. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Day I Broke With the Revolution". 
  10. ^ "Haqqani on Muslim Brotherhood’s real agenda". 
  11. ^ "Ambassador Husain Haqqani and Jeffrey Goldberg at the April 2011 Faith Angle Forum". 
  12. ^ a b "Haqqani Back in D.C., Where Everybody Knows His Name". 
  13. ^ "Ambassador Durrani likely to be made security adviser", The News, March 29, 2008
  14. ^ Ayesha Jalal 2014, pp. 364-365.
  15. ^ Ayesha Jalal 2014, p. 366.
  16. ^ Imtiaz Gul 2012, Chapter 2 (pp. 43-46).
  17. ^ Ayesha Jalal 2014, pp. 366-367.
  18. ^ Kalhan 2013, pp. 83, 86.
  19. ^ Fair 2012, p. 112.
  20. ^ BBC News Asia "Pakistan 'memogate': Husain Haqqani travel ban lifted", BBC, 30 January 2012. Accessed 2014-04-16.
  21. ^ Siddique 2015, p. 181.
  22. ^ Pakistan Judicial Commission "Pages 108–121, Judicial Commission Report", Supreme Court of Pakistan, 12 June 2012. Accessed 2014-03-24.
  23. ^ Ahmad, Fasih and Taseer, Shehrbano "Pakistan: Judges Rebuke Haqqani in Memogate Scandal", The Daily Beast, 2012-06-13, Accessed 2 April 2014.
  24. ^ "Ex-envoy sheds light on mystery about failure to block IAEA India-specific deal". 2015-12-19. Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  25. ^ INP (2012-07-12). "Memo commission didn't declare Husain Haqqani traitor: Supreme Court". The Nation. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  26. ^ Frum, David "Haqqani: I am No Traitor", The Daily Beast, 2012-06-16, Accessed 2 April 2014.
  27. ^ Hirsh, Michael "The Last Friendly Pakistani", The Atlantic, 2011-11-23, Accessed 2 April 2014.
  28. ^ Masood, Salman "Former Ambassador to U.S. Cites Threats in Pakistan Over Memo Case", New York Times, 29 March 2012. Accessed 2014-04-16.
  29. ^ Ayres, Alyssa (28 July 2005). "The Ambivalent Ally". The Wall Street Journal. 
  30. ^ "Book Discussion on Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military". C-SPAN. 26 July 2005. 
  31. ^ Komireddi, Kapil (24 December 2013). "Best Books About the Rest of the World". The Daily Beast. 
  32. ^ "Our Radical Islamic BFF, Saudi Arabia". 
  33. ^ "Pakistan should heed Husain Haqqani's urgent message of reform". 
  34. ^ "Don't Talk With the Taliban". 
  35. ^ Mira Sethi (21 January 2012). "The Weekend Interview with Husain Haqqani: A Hostage in Pakistan - WSJ". WSJ. 
  36. ^ Michael Hirsh. "The Last Friendly Pakistani". The Atlantic. 
  37. ^ Jeffrey Goldberg. "The Pakistani Army Wins a Battle Over Husain Haqqani, but Continues to Lose a War". The Atlantic. 
  38. ^ Jeffrey Goldberg. "Ambassador Haqqani: 'I Am a Pakistani, I Will Die a Pakistani'". The Atlantic. 
  39. ^ Tisdall, Simon (23 November 2011). "Husain Haqqani's downfall becomes Pakistan's latest political football". The Guardian (London). 
  40. ^ "F-16 jets US plans to sell to Pakistan will be used against India: Husain Haqqani". The Express Tribune. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  41. ^ “Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan: Prospects and Consequences, Written testimony by Husain Haqqani, US House of Representatives, retrieved 2016-01-21.
  42. ^ US Congress `stalls' sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, The Express Tribune, 2 January 2016.
  43. ^ "Senate body wants govt to counter pro-Indian lobby in Washington". Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  44. ^ Dhume, Sadanand (24 November 2011). "A U.S.-Pakistan Reset". The Wall Street Journal. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Tariq M. Mir
Pakistan Ambassador to Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Tariq Altaf
Preceded by
Mahmud Ali Durrani
Pakistan Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Sherry Rehman