I am saddened but not surprised that a Pakistani judicial inquiry commission has accused me of being disloyal while serving as my country’s ambassador to the United States. The tide of anti-Americanism has been rising in Pakistan for almost a decade. An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy, notwithstanding the nominal alliance that has existed between our countries for six decades. Americans, frustrated by what they see as Pakistani intransigence in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, are becoming less willing to accept Pakistani demands even though Pakistan has suffered heavily at the hands of terrorists.
This is a difficult time to openly advocate friendly relations between the United States and Pakistan. I am proud that I did so as ambassador. During my tenure, the United States agreed to initiate a strategic dialogue with Pakistani civil and military leaders. The idea was to overcome the episodic nature of bilateral relations: Our countries had a pattern of working together for a few years and then falling out amid complaints about each other. The strategic dialogue sought to reconcile Pakistan’s regional concerns about Afghanistan and India with U.S. global concerns about nuclear proliferation and terrorism. But the dialogue stalled last year, and a series of unfortunate incidents, culminating in Osama bin Laden being found in Pakistan last year, has brought our countries to the brink of an adversarial relationship.
My sincere efforts to transcend the parallel narratives that have shaped U.S.-Pakistani relations were not always appreciated in Pakistan, where conspiracy theories and hatred for the United States have become a daily staple of the national discourse. My detractors in Pakistan’s security services and among pro-Jihadi groups have long accused me of being pro-American; they condescendingly described me as the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan based in Washington. Falsehoods were circulated in Pakistani media about my issuing thousands of visas to “CIA spies” who would allegedly act with impunity against my country. Few considered that Pakistan was pledged record amounts of U.S. aid and that Pakistani views were being heard on a range of issues. The expectation that Washington should simply do whatever the Pakistani hyper-nationalists desire remains unrealistic.
I resigned last November after a U.S. businessman of Pakistani origin — now residing in Monaco — claimed that I had asked him to deliver a secret memo to Adm. Michael Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, seeking U.S. help in thwarting a military coup right after the U.S. operation that killed bin Laden. The affair was dubbed “Memogate” by the Pakistani media. Our Supreme Court, pursuing a populist ideological agenda without regard to legal or constitutional niceties, intervened directly. Without any trial, it created a Commission of Inquiry and barred me from leaving Pakistan, though it later relented.
This week the commission presented its findings. It alleged that I had acted against Pakistan’s interests and had authorized the controversial memo. The report’s release has been timed to distract attention from serious allegations by a Pakistani businessman that he paid millions to the son of Pakistan’s chief justice as part of efforts to buy favors.