How did US citizen Gary Faulkner manage to get entry visas for Pakistan six times, bring along weapons, roam the military-prohibited tribal region, and not once catch the eye of Ambassador Husain Haqqani and his staff at the Pakistan embassy in Washington DC?
This question is important because only a few months ago Ambassador Haqqani faced accusations he issued visas to tens and possibly hundreds of US citizens without verifying who these visa applicants represented. Most of them, however, claimed to be traveling on US government business. Pakistani security officials suspected Mr. Haqqani was basically facilitating US intelligence agents and private security contractors for Pentagon and CIA. By directly issuing visas, Mr. Haqqani avoided the long route through the Pakistan Foreign Office, which also meant verification by law enforcement agencies.
This issue is so close to Ambassador Haqqani's heart that at one point late last year he fired a letter to Pakistan's Foreign Secretary and ISI chief warning them that blocking visas to US citizens would endanger the supply of military hardware.
Mr. Faulkner traveled to Pakistan six times and was caught in the last one carrying a gun, a knife and hashish while 'hunting' for bin Laden in the Pakistan border region. He lied to Pakistani investigators that he planned to cross into Afghanistan. He never tried to cross into Afghanistan in the previous five trips.
Despite violations of Pakistani visa and laws, he was released without a single charge, not even a police report for the record. This was done most probably on the orders of Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
While it's nice to be nice to others, the problem is that such generosity is never reciprocated by the US government, which continues to prosecute innocent Pakistani college students on terror-related charges in cases where FBI agents planted flimsy evidence to promote their careers.
Compare Faulkner to Adnan Mirza, a twenty-something Pakistani and his cousin Shiraz.
Adnan remains in jail for the past 4 years because FBI is forcing him to accept guilt while he won't accept something he didn't do. The so-called evidence against him consists of [believe it or not] a tape recording where an undercover FBI agent pretending to be Muslim lead him into a conversation on Iraq and Afghanistan. Adnan's cousin Shiraz, whose wife and child are US citizens and whose aging parents live with him in the US, was released by a US judge for lack of evidence. But last week, FBI descended on him as he celebrated his child's birthday after Amb. Husain Haqqani colluded with US authorities to issue his deportation papers.
This is the worst part, where the Pakistani ambassador has actually been forcing these kids to accept the false charges against them. What Mr. Haqqani should have done was to tell US authorities that fake terror cases against Pakistani citizens for war propaganda purposes would hurt US-Pakistan relations. But of course Mr. Haqqani can't do that.
Moral of the story is that Pakistanis can rot in US jails but a US citizen who is in clear violation of Pakistani laws will always be promptly released by a pro-US government in Islamabad. These Pakistani officials, whose lives and careers exist outside Pakistan, don't even have the imagination to drive a fair bargain by exchanging Mr. Faulkner for Mr. Mirza, or even for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who might be partially guilty in some ways but whose method of punishment would forever remain a stain on the faces of those American and Pakistani political and intelligence officials who handled her case.
It is important to add a nore here about how ordinary Americans have dealth with Adnan Mirza's case in Houston. Ordinary Americans are good people who are confused and scared because of these fake terror cases. Many of them are coming out now to defend Adnan Mirza. These are college students and charity acitivists who knew him. But Amb. Haqqani won't defend this Pakistani because, well, Mr. Haqqani can't upset FBI since he has to live in the US long after the incumbent US-installed Pakistani govt. is gone.
P.S.: Mr. Faulkner plans to return to Pakistan in August. Let's see if Amb. Haqqani will grant him a visa for the seventh time.
For more information on Adnan Mirza, please see www.FakeTerror.com