News today that Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, has tendered his resignation to President Zardari, who has refused to accept it. Why? Because of media reports fingering him, or appearing to finger him, as a Pakistani diplomat who allegedly reached out to President Obama on Zardari’s behalf to invite US intervention if Pakistan’s military attempted a coup after Osama bin Laden’s assassination. Haqqani denies it, and says he will return to Islamabad if Zardari recalls him.
I hope he doesn’t go, because the ISI would almost certainly arrest him, and who knows what else they would do to him.
I can’t say that I know Amb. Haqqani, but I did spend some time with him and his wife at a conference several years ago. Later, I shared a podium with him at a Hudson Institute conference on the Muslim Brotherhood. From what I observed, in public and in private, Husain Haqqani is a good man and a pious Muslim who is deeply and sincerely concerned about Islamic radicalism. At that conference, he explained in detail how the Muslim Brotherhood established early domination of Muslim life in America, and how it exercises that today. Excerpt:
Third, the Muslim agenda in the U.S. has been defined by the Muslim Brotherhood. Matters of religious interpretation and inter-faith dialogue have taken a back seat to the Brotherhood’s political issues and priorities. Instead of accepting the diversity among Muslims who consider Islam simply as their religious faith, Muslim Brotherhood leaders describe Islam as a political and social ideology. Islam is therefore defined as ideologyand faith, and any distinctions between the two become blurred.
Fourth, the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance has marginalized traditional Islam within the American Muslim community. The kind of people who want to say their prayers but otherwise want to get on with the business of life; who want to have a relationship with God through saintly intermediaries, but do not want to think in terms of political agendas, have found themselves on the outside of the organized U.S. Muslim structures.
The Muslim Brotherhood also has had an impact on the American mainstream. As the American media and academia sought to understand Islam, because of the way the Brotherhood has organized itself, journalists and scholars found it most convenient to approach Islam through the Brotherhood’s politicized version. Only recently have some academics begun doing research on Sufi traditions or non-radical versions of Islam. Otherwise, one often hears that Muslims divide the world between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, the land of Islam and the land of war, even though that is one particular version of Islam, not its universal view.
Amb. Haqqani was a professor when he wrote this, and only subsequently became a diplomat. You can imagine, though, what the Islamist ISI would do to him if they got their hands on him.
I can also say that from my experience talking with him and with those who know him, he is a man of real and humble faith. I am told reliably (not by him, but by someone who knows him well) that when he was teaching in Boston, his non-Muslim students would open up to him about their personal struggles, because they knew him to be morally solid, gentle, and willing to listen. My source told me that Haqqani was troubled, in a sympathetic way, by how unmoored and lost these college students seemed to be, having no religion and no source of strength and guidance, and surrounded by all this material wealth. He didn’t despise them; he loved those kids and wanted to help them.
Again, I don’t really know him, and have no idea what he may or may not have been involved in, diplomatically or otherwise. I bring this up only because it’s not often that I’ve had personal experience with someone in the news at this level, and I wanted to share with you my experience of the man. Let me repeat that my impression of Amb. Haqqani is that he’s a good man, and a brave one. If there is any indication that his life will be in danger, I hope he will seek asylum in the US. Jeffrey Goldberg asked him about the asylum possibility, and he denied it, saying that he “will die a Pakistani.” I fear that if he returns, he will. He and his wife are in my prayers.