Pakistani Ambassador Rejects Leaked Information
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
The U.S. could not have a more committed ally in this defining battle of the third millennium than the people, the government and the military of Pakistan. Those are the words of Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, writing today in the Wall Street Journal.
The defining battle that he's referring is, of course, the ongoing fight to stabilize Afghanistan. And the statement comes in response to the release Sunday of tens of thousands of secret documents by the website Wikileaks. Those documents paint an unflattering picture of Pakistan, its intelligence agency working behind-the-scenes with Taliban fighters to undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
Unflattering and untrue, says Ambassador Haqqani, who joins us now. Welcome to the program.
HUSAIN HAQQANI: Pleasure being here, Robert.
SIEGEL: And some of the troubling reports about Pakistan concern, first, a General Hamid Gul. He was the head of your country's Directorate of Inter- Services Intelligence, the ISI, in the late '80s. He's described as working in support of the Afghan Taliban, even attending a meeting in January 2009 with some men presumed to be from al-Qaida, talking about suicide bombings.
Is it your position that it's just not true, or it might be true, but Hamid Gul is not acting on behalf of Pakistan?
HAQQANI: Well, the most important thing to understand is the very nature of these documents. First of all, we haven't seen all the documents. The newspapers that have reported them have. But they're essentially what are known as situation reports, things people call in. It's like 911 reports, people call in things. They're not always processed information in intelligence.
SIEGEL: But let's say that were true.
HAQQANI: General Hamid - hold on. Hold on. General Hamid Gul has not had a government position or an official position since 1990. So I mean to suggest that he is somehow conducting something, it's like finding somebody sort of way back from the 1980s from the CIA and saying current CIA operations are being run that person. That said...
HAQQANI: That said, whatever these who hires about, is about history and that I will leave to historians. What I do know is that for the last two years, Pakistan has been working with the American side in trying to change things on the ground in a very difficult region of the world.
SIEGEL: But the Hamid Gul meeting was in January of last year. But I just want to be clear on this. If he were doing such a thing, if he were involved with the Taliban and doing something on his own, would he be in violation of Pakistani law?
SIEGEL: Would he be in jeopardy of being arrested?
HAQQANI: Absolutely. Anybody in Pakistan who is working with the Taliban, who are a proscribed organization in Pakistan, they are banned. They are fighting our own people. They are killing Pakistanis. They are killing Pakistan soldiers and Pakistani intelligence personnel.
Look, people do not realize that in the last two years, 74 ISI personnel have been killed and more than 250 have been injured in Taliban attacks. Why would the ISI be helping people who are attacking it? Why would - and we have lost, by the way, we are the only country that in fighting terrorism have lost general officers. We've lost generals to this battle.
What is happening is, that as the international media is investing less and less in reporting, everybody is trying to become sort of, you know, everybody is conserving on their energy. So you get a little stuff, like WikiLeaks, and you then extrapolate from that and then add to it some of the back stuff that you already on file, and you make a story.
The truth is, let people go in there today and find out what is happening on ground now.
SIEGEL: Let me put to you another document. This one is from May 2007, it...
HAQQANI: No, I'm not going to address individual documents, Robert...
SIEGEL: Well, it says the ISI...
HAQQANI: ...because, first of all, I am not going to address individual documents for one very simple reason. I do not think that the very nature of these documents is something that should be addressed by either the U.S. or the Pakistani government. We have dealt with them as and when these documents were written.
SIEGEL: Well, since you...
HAQQANI: These are situation reports...
SIEGEL: Ambassador Haqqani, since you've been insistent on what has happened most recently, is a document that alleges that a thousand motorcycles are dispatched for suicide attacks in May 2007...
HAQQANI: And what is the nature of the document? Please read the document from the top. My point is you are constantly refusing to see the nature of the document. The nature...
SIEGEL: No, I'm asking you about it, to comment on it.
HAQQANI: I know, you're not - I don't know anything about the document and I don't consider this as reasonable discussion. My point is that the very nature of the documents is that these are situation reports. What is a situation report? somebody at a 911 station is sitting down and writing every phone call he gets in. Now there is a war, this fog of war, in that many people come in and report various things.
Then, of course, the U.S. military checks those facts, finds out later. So if you can read to me a document which says that the U.S. military established for a fact that 1,000 people were trained in suicide bombing, then I will address that.
SIEGEL: There was motorcycles, not people. But...
HAQQANI: Well, motorcycles. But my point is 1,000 motorcycles do not disappear from the face of the Earth just like that. So what is happening is somebody has reported it, somebody has brought it in and the person who is recording all of this is recording that. It's a report. It's investigated. If the U.S. military thinks that it is valid, they talk to the Pakistani military, together we do something about the 1,000 motorcycles.
One thousand motorcycles is a lot of motorcycles. One thousand suicide bombers is a lot of suicide bombers.
SIEGEL: Just want to ask you about what Senator Reed, Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who visited Pakistan this month said. He said: The burden of proof is on the government of Pakistan and the ISI to show that they don't have ongoing contacts with the Taliban. Do you accept that burden? Is that fair or unfair?
HAQQANI: I think that Pakistan and the United States have an ongoing relationship. Our intelligence services work together. I think when we have issues, we talk to each other. We discuss them. If any American legislator thinks that they have information better than the American central intelligence service, which by the way is also not perfect, and we all know that. We know that the war in Iraq took place on the basis of intelligence that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - intelligence that was disproven later. Intelligence is never perfect.
But that said, if there is an American legislator who thinks that they know more than what Central Intelligence Agency knows, more than what the executive branch of the U.S. government knows today, they also have a responsibility to make and establish that case within the U.S. government.
As far as we are concerned, we consider ourselves allies the United States. We have been working together. We have lost more men in this battle in the last two years than any other country.
SIEGEL: Ambassador Haqqani, thank you very much for talking with us today.
HAQQANI: Pleasure talking to you as always, Robert.
SIEGEL: Husain Haqqani, who is Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.
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