ISLAMABAD - Mr. Husain Haqqani, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, has served a legal notice of Rs. 1 billion against the Editor-in-Chief of The Nation for publishing a report titled, If Fired, Haqqani Threatens To Unveil 'Reams of Pakistans Secrets, written by Ahmed Quraishi and published on Oct. 14, 2009. The legal notice was received at the offices of TheNation in Lahore. He also used the platform of the official news agency, APP, to distribute the full text of the notice. Mr. Haqqani is demanding an apology and retraction and is threatening to press charges if his demands are not met. This is TheNations response to his legal notice: Ambassador Husain Haqqani has chosen the safer course of suing a Pakistani newspaper [TheNation] and spared an American news publication [Foreign Policy magazine] that originally published the information in the report in question. This alone demonstrates that Ambassador Haqqanis purpose in serving this legal notice is damage-control inside Pakistan more than anything else, and he wants to do this at the cost of TheNation. By sparing the American publication and targeting us, Ambassador Haqqani is making a political statement for the consumption of the domestic audience in Pakistan. Ironically, Mr. Haqqani, who has worked for several US media organizations at different times during his stay in the United States, chose to give a pass to his American colleagues and instead targeted TheNation, a newspaper that gave unprecedented space to his views and positions many years ago when he was not as well known as he is today. Ambassador Haqqanis legal notice begins with the claim that, The services of Mr. Haqqani for Pakistan military are undeniable as because of his sheer hard work, dedication and excellent diplomatic skills Pakistan secured F-16 from USA. The truth is that public and official record of the Government of Pakistan will confirm that the contract for the supply of 18 new F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft was signed between Pakistan and US governments on September 30, 2006 after a long series of negotiations and with predetermined delivery schedule. All Mr. Haqqani did is to pursue an existing project, which is a responsibility that came to him as part of his official duties as Ambassador. So this attempt by the Ambassador to use the legal notice against us for self-serving propaganda does not stand. As for what Ambassador Haqqani describes in his legal notice as his 'services for the Pakistani military, it is enough to quote the wording of a question that an American television anchor posed to Ambassador Haqqani in a recent interview he gave to the TV show 'Frontline on PBS [www.OBS.org] where the American anchor asks as follows [transcription available at the website]: You [Ambassador Haqqani] have said over the years that one of the reasons that the Pakistanis havent been able to get at the Taliban is because the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] has protected them, that Musharrafs ISI has protected the Taliban. This is just one sample of the 'reams of his writings and interviews where he has accused Pakistans military and intelligence services of various allegations. It would also have been part of acceptable journalistic discourse to raise such questions about various existing reports, some recent and some not so recent, that allegedly accuse Mr. Ambassador of misconduct especially in the case of a classified letter to ISI chief written by Ambassador Haqqani in July that ended up being revealed by an Indian news organization in New Delhi, and whose content was exclusively damaging for the ISI and Pakistans military. Raising all of these questions, responsibly and with proper attribution to evidence both hard and circumstantial, is part of journalism and part of the art of political analysis. TheNation in its report, however, did not raise any of the above. All it did was to quote an interview that Ambassador Haqqani himself gave to a prestigious American publication, Foreign Policy magazine, published on its online edition and available there, and which Mr. Haqqani has not denied to date. The remainder of the legal notice is as misleading as this deliberately false introductory remark about the Ambassadors role in securing F-16 jets. The other points are as follows: 1. Mr. Haqqani lists ten different quotes from TheNations report to conclude they are 'devastatingly defamatory. Ironically, he accuses TheNation of defamation when the publication was in fact reproducing, with due acknowledgement, an article published in the prestigious American magazine, Foreign Policy, which ran a story on Oct. 12, 2009, titled, ' Exclusive: Pakistan ambassador says he hasnt been fired (yet?) . [Link: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/10/12/exclusive_pakistan_ambassador_says_he_hasnt_been_fired_yet]. 2. The American writer authored his piece with the stated understanding that the article is based on a telephone interview that Ambassador Haqqani gave to the American writer. Ambassador Haqqani has not sent a denial or a legal notice to the American writer who has written the following line in his article and which The Nation reproduced in the report verbatim: These sources also say that Haqqani has reams of documents that could embarrass the forces aligned against him and sacking him could open up a Pandoras box of controversy that the government would not appreciate, which he might do if forced to defend himself after being fired. 3. TheNation, while professionally and faithfully adhering to journalistic norms, not only printed the paragraph as it is, but it also ensured that the word 'Reams used in the title of TheNations report is kept in parentheses in order to signify that we are quoting, and not conjecturing. 4. Why does Ambassador Haqqani not sue his friends in the US media for a paragraph they have published and which he finds objectionable when a Pakistani newspaper picks it? Was the purpose of the said paragraph [which amounts to blackmail in the analysis of most people who read it] to send a message to the Pakistani government and other players including the military, and the paragraph was not supposed to be published or reproduced in the Pakistani media? 5. The clauses (i) through (vii) in the legal notice [the quotes from TheNation report] are legitimate, carefully-worded and well-reasoned journalistic reporting based on what an American news publication has published, which in turn was based on an interview with Ambassador Haqqani and which he has not denied until now. 6. The clauses (viii) and (ix) are direct quotes from a source in Washington that spoke to TheNations reporter by telephone. In utmost professionalism and in the interest of full transparency, TheNations report made sure to disclose to its readers the nature of the source being quoted in order to demonstrate why the quotes were relevant. TheNations report introduced the authoritative source in Washington as follows: A retired US military officer, well informed about Pakistan-related diplomacy in Washington. This officer does not want to be named here because his work entails direct contacts with the governments of Pakistan, the United States and the embassy of Pakistan in Washington. 7. The portions of the report that are not direct quotes were written by TheNations reporter. These are carefully-worded and well-reasoned findings and conclusions that seamlessly sync with the information being quoted in the report from different publicly available news sources and are based on a calibrated analysis of the news. These portions of the report passed through a process of fact-checking by seasoned and experienced journalists at TheNation, which is one of the largest media houses in the country. 8. Mr. Haqqani asserts that TheNations report gives the impression - and we quote from the legal notice - that the Honourable Ambassador is involved in and is guilty of wrongdoing, that the Ambassador is conspirator, corrupt, dishonest, unethical, immoral and lacks integrity. This interpretation by Mr. Haqqani of TheNations report is malicious, seeks to raise a false alarm, and is a deliberate distortion of the professional effort that has gone into writing the published report. Nowhere in TheNations report has the reporter used or alluded to any of the adjectives claimed by Mr. Haqqani in his legal notice. 9. In discharging his duty of presenting credible and well sourced information and analysis, written in a manner that would help contribute to an ongoing national debate on a matter of immense importance to Pakistanis and to Pakistans national security, the reporter has not, as explained above, indulged in any reckless conjecturing or the use of known and recognizable defamatory language. The question that TheNation would publish and apology does not arise. Ambassador Haqqanis legal notice is an attempt at diverting attention from the inflammatory report published by an American publication based on an interview that Mr. Haqqani gave to it. Mr. Ambassador is seeking to punish TheNation for highlighting the said information in the best interest of a raging debate on a matter of national importance to all Pakistanis. The Ambassador should press charges against the prestigious American Foreign Policy magazine, if he can, for publishing the remarks that he seeks to dispute. TheNation stands by its report - The Editor