ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani has stated that he neither had issued visas to the US citizens nor had provided any information to the US about the Osama bin Laden presence in Abbottabad.

‘Let me state clearly for the record that these wild allegations are totally baseless and refuted completely by the official record. The Embassy of Pakistan in Washington DC never issued unauthorised visas in three years and 5 months that I served as Ambassador’, he said in his written statement submitted to the Inquiry Commission on Abbottabad Operation on Monday.

Husain Haqqani, also appeared before the Commission here at the Cabinet division on Tuesday and faced a number of questions from the Commission members.

The Commission remained involved in a panel discussion with four former DGs of ISI including Lt.Gen (Retd) Asad Durrani, Lt.Gen (Retd) Ehsan-ul-Haq, Lt.Gen (Retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi and Lt.Gen (Retd) Nasim Rana for their inputs, said sources.

About the allegations levelled by AML chief Sh Rashid regarding issuance of visas, Haqqani said he had never issued unauthorised visas in the three years and five months he had served as Ambassador.

In his written reply, he said: ‘Different media reports cited different figures ranging from a low of 4,000 to a high of 16,000 resulting in an ‘urban myth’. Let me state clearly for the record that these wild allegations are totally baseless and refuted completely by the official record’.

He said that at no stage did any government department, including Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Ministry of Interior or the Joint Services Headquarters (JSHQ) that deals with security aspects relating to visas wrote to the Embassy or the Ambassador recording the allegations that have been published in the media and publicised by some political personalities.

Haqqani said that infact, the official record would reflect that the Embassy was very conservative in issuing visas and at one point (from April to June 2010) held back issuing any official visas because clearance from Islamabad had not been received.

‘This created a backlog and also resulted in a political issue with the US government that was resolved by the Prime Minister authorising the Ambassador some discretion in issuing visas vide his letter dated July 14th, 2010’, said Haqqani referring to the letter mentioned by AML chief.

He said even after the issuance of the authorisation, the Embassy continued to refer visa applications of US officials from military and allied branches to the respective security agencies.

However, Haqqani admitted that he had twice received official communication questioning the issuance of visas to the Americans.

‘First objection was raised on January 6th, 2011 based on the DCC’s expression of concern resulting from media reports, which I replied in detail on January 18th, 2011 along with annexure. No further criticism or concern was reported back by the Foreign Office after receipt of my explanation. On February 19th, 2011, the Foreign Office forwarded a letter from JSHQ listing 72 US military personnel who received visas but about whom the JSHQ did not appear to have records’, he added. 

‘I responded to that letter on March 11th, pointing out that the 72 persons listed in the JSHQ letter were all members of US military delegations and their visas were either requested by or authorised by the Defence Wing of the Embassy’, he said.

‘The JSHQ’s response to that letter confirmed that the Embassy had not acted irresponsibly or without authorisation’, asserted Haqqani, referring to the documentary proof attached alongwith his statement.

About the US raid on Osama bin Laden hideout, Haqqani said he was on his way to Islamabad via London and Dubai when the operation was conducted and he found out about it upon landing at Heathrow Airport in early morning of May 2.

‘I was instructed to immediately turn around, which I did, and returned to Washington by around 5pm local time’, he said.

He said he had fully defended the country’s interests following the Abbottabad raid and played a role to ensure that the US government, Congress and media do not blame Pakistan government, Armed Forces or intelligence services for allowing Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country, as that would have been a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1267 and 1373.

‘I was also to protest the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by US forces in conducting the action and to point out that how US had violated the norms of international conduct between two sovereign countries. I faithfully and diligently carried out my instructions. I met with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Deputy National Security Adviser of the President of the US to register protest over violation of Pakistani sovereignty’.

He also said that public viewpoint was against each-other in the US and Pakistan which had made his job more difficult and he had to face difficulties while lobbying for his country.

The meeting was attended by Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Lt.Gen (Retd) Nadeem Ahmed and IGP (Retd) Abbas Khan, members of the Commission.