WASHINGTON: Former Pakistan ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani on Tuesday said that while his country was a victim of terror, it was also to blame for not using full force of the state to crush militant groups.
Speaking at the launch of the Asia Society’s report on the US and South Asia after Afghanistan, the former Pakistani ambassador emphasised that Pakistan has to cut all ties with the militant groups.
The former diplomat added that Pakistan’s sovereignty was being violated, not just by the US drone strikes, but also by militant groups that use the country as a base to carry out attacks.
The event’s speakers included former US ambassadors to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin and Cameron Munter, former US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth and the report’s author and Asia Society fellow Alexander Evans.
Pakistan’s ties with US
In the panel discussion, former US Ambassador Cameron Munter said that while he always disagreed with Haqqani’s remarks about a ‘divorce’ between US and Pakistan, he said there was a need to move away from the bilateralisation of US-Pakistan ties.
“We can have a relationship based on agreed principles, not as defined by labels,” said Munter, adding that they should deal in areas which both countries had in common.
Haqqani said that the US has made an error by having solely military to military and intelligence to intelligence relationship with Pakistan. Those close links, Haqqani said, have led to skewed decision making in Pakistan.
“We need to continue military and intelligence relationship, but not make it the centrepiece of the relationship.”
In response to a question, the former Pakistani Ambassador jokingly remarked that he has gotten in trouble in the past for making remarks about the Pakistani Army and the ISI.
Asked about the unilateral drone strikes, Haqqani said that drones as an element of policy was understandable, and they have been effective. However, if they are to be the only policy, then they would not be successful.
Education must take priority in Pakistan
In response to a question, Haqqani said that Pakistan’s education crisis needs to become a priority.
Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin echoed Haqqani’s comments and said that Pakistan government’s investment in education was minuscule, adding that it was then interesting that Pakistan had pledged $10 million to a UNESCO fund for education.
Adopting a fresh approach to South Asia
The Asia Society report calls for the US to adopt a fresh approach to its South Asia policy.
The reports recommendations include a structured US approach to the India-US bilateral relationship, development of a realistic, medium-term strategy for Pakistan and an “enhanced approach to regional strategy that incorporates South and East Asia.”