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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Husain Haqqani likely to be replaced in May

ISLAMABAD, March 26 : In the wake of the settlement of the row between Pakistan and the US over CIA contractor Raymond Davis, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani is likely to be replaced after expiration of his tenure in May this year, sources said.

In a significant development, the vacant slot of foreign minister may soon be given to Assef Ahmed Ali, a senior PPP leader and former education minister, Gulf Times reported on Saturday.

Haqqani is blamed for issuing hundreds of visas to the likes of Davis, a CIA contractor arrested in Lahore in January for killing two Pakistanis, without caring for the prescribed rules and regulations such as the vetting of applications by Pakistani security agencies.

Despite the settlement of the row over Davis, Pakistani security agencies are displeased with the way the Pakistani embassy in Washington issued visas to Americans during Haqqani's tenure that led to the influx of hundreds of CIA linked people and defence contractors to Pakistan in the garb of diplomats.

"Haqqani is blamed for issuing over 400 visas to Americans in a single day in July last year after the then row between Islamabad and Washington over visa issuance was resolved upon the intervention of the presidency. These visas were blocked earlier after complaints were received in Islamabad that a lot of 'dubious characters' had applied for visas and were being obliged," a diplomatic source said.

He said it was highly unlikely that Haqqani's contract would be renewed after the expiration of his current one in May and he would be replaced by some career diplomat.

However, the source refused to reveal the name of Haqqani's likely replacement.When approached, a Pakistani official did not confirm or deny the possible replacement of Haqqani.

However, he said important changes were imminent in the country's foreign services, adding that the slot of foreign minister which became vacant after the removal of Shah Mahmood Qureshi was likely to be given to Assef Ahamad Ali, a senior politician of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

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