Pakistan Envoy to US Booted Over Memo

He allegedly asked US to prevent a coup from Pakistan's military

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 23, 2011 12:42 PM CST

(Newser) – Pakistan named Sherry Rehman as its new ambassador to the US today after its old one—the well-regarded Hussain Haqqani—was forced to resign yesterday over an ongoing scandal known in Pakistan as “Memogate.” After Osama bin Laden’s death, Haqqani allegedly sent a memo urging the US to prevent a military coup in Pakistan—a memo that came to light last month thanks to this Financial Times column and caused a media firestorm in Pakistan. Haqqani denies writing the memo, but tells NPR he was happy to step down to end the controversy.

Haqqani’s departure initially provoked some gloomy proclamations—one expert told the Daily Beast it marked “the end of the era" of US-Pakistan engagement—but Rehman appears to be a credible replacement. A close friend of the late Benazir Bhutto, Rehman is an avid liberal who has faced death threats for speaking out for human rights in Pakistan. Her appointment indicates that “the military has failed to assume complete control of Pakistan-US relations,” Human Rights Watch tells the BBC.

In this 2010 photo, Hussain Haqqani, right, talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in Multan, Pakistan.
In this 2010 photo, Hussain Haqqani, right, talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in Multan, Pakistan.   (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
Hussain Haqqani in a 2008 file photo.
Hussain Haqqani in a 2008 file photo.   (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
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Ah! To wake up in my motherland, without the burden of conducting Pakistan's most difficult external relationship. - Hussain Haqqani, via Twitter

She is an excellent nomination because she is highly regarded in Pakistan's intellectual and political circles, and I think even in those circles close to the military establishment. - Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Lahore University political science professor, on Rehman

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