LONDON - Husain Haqqani, former ambassador to Washington, fears he will be murdered if he leaves his sanctuary in the Prime Minster’s House.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, he said he has been branded a ‘traitor’ and a ‘Washington lackey’ by ‘powerful quarters’ – a reference to ISI intelligence agency – and that he now fears he will be murdered like his friend, the late governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who was shot dead by one of his own security guards last year after being branded a ‘blasphemer.’

He told Telegraph the allegations against him are false and part of a “psychological war” against the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani by “certain powerful quarters.”He said he had only left the Prime Minister’s House on three occasions, each under heavy security escort.

“I’m a guest of the prime minister with whom I have had a long-standing political association. There are clear security concerns given the hysteria generated against me. Staying at the prime minister’s house is the safest option.

“My good friend Salman Taseer was killed by a security guard because he heard in the media that the governor had blasphemed. I’m being called a traitor and an American lackey in the media with the clear encouragement of certain powerful quarters even though I’ve not been charged legally with anything,” he said.

He had left the PM House to go to “the Supreme Court once to meet my lawyer with very heavy security, and one day to the dentist, when I had a toothache, and to the Abbottabad Commission (into the American raid which killed Osama bin Laden), with massive security.

“If required I will appear before the inquiry commission with the necessary security. It is not what I would like to do. I’d like to be able to go to a restaurant or visit my family,” he added.

Friends of Mr Haqqani said he has been alarmed by repeated suggestions that “his noose is tied” or that he may turn “approver” and give evidence implicating President Zardari in the affair in exchange for immunity.

“The president and prime minister are firmly standing behind me and the government is not going anywhere. This is psychological warfare against the government,” he said.