Islamabad, Washington must ‘divorce’ as allies: Haqqani

Published: August 24, 2012
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Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. PHOTO: FILE

WASHINGTON: 

The United States and Pakistan should stop pretending they are allies and amicably “divorce,” Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington has said — citing unrealistic expectations in both countries that include US hopes that Islamabad will sever its links to extremists.

“If in 65 years, you haven’t been able to find sufficient common ground to live together, and you had three separations and four reaffirmations of marriage, then maybe the better way is to find friendship outside of the marital bond,” Husain Haqqani said, addressing the Centre for the National Interest, a Washington think tank.

Haqqani’s recommendation that the US and Pakistan essentially downgrade their status was based on the premise that it may be the only way to break from what has been a dysfunctional relationship.

A post-alliance future would allow both countries to hold more realistic expectations of each other, cooperating where possible but perhaps without the sense of betrayal, which has become acute in Pakistan.

He cited a survey by the Pew Research Centre released in June showing roughly three-in-four Pakistanis consider the US an enemy, even though Washington pours billions of dollars of aid into the country.

“If this was an election campaign … you would advise the senator with these kinds of favourability ratings to pull out of the race, instead of spending more money,” said Haqqani, who plans to publish a book entitled “Magnificent Delusions” next year about the US-Pakistan relationship.

His candid remarks represented Haqqani’s first address in Washington since he resigned as Pakistan’s envoy last year after, he says, being framed for drafting a memo that accused the army of plotting a coup — allegations he defended himself against before the Supreme Court.

He said that the military needed to be under greater civilian control, adding Pakistan’s national interests are defined “by generals, not by civilian leaders.”

But he also doled out criticism of US policymaking, saying it was too often short-sighted, lacking the necessary historic perspective needed to appreciate realistically what Pakistan might do in return for aid and cooperation.

He repeatedly said someone in Pakistan knew of Osama bin Laden’s presence, even though he stopped far short of blaming the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).

“I still think a full proper investigation on the Pakistani side is needed to find out how Bin Laden lived in Pakistan and who supported him — within or outside the government,” he said. “I really do not know (who helped Bin Laden). All I am saying is that somebody knew.”

Unrealistic expectations

Haqqani said it was just as unrealistic for Pakistanis to think that the US would side with Pakistan by launching war on India as it was for the US to think Pakistan would give up its nuclear weapons or sever ties with extremists.

“Equally unrealistic is that Pakistan … will give up support for jihadi groups that it deems to be a sub-conventional force multiplier for regional influence.”

Describing his vision for a post-alliance future for the US and Pakistan, Haqqani appeared to downplay US security concerns. Regarding drone strikes, he believed the US would press ahead with the campaign even in a post-alliance future.

“I have no realistic expectation of the US ending the drone campaign and (no realistic expectation of) Pakistan accepting it,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Ayaz
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:28AM

    we are missing you. you were the person to change Pakistan from security state to welfare state through Carry logor bil

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  • Khadim Karrar
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:49AM

    Haqqani is now trying to find a balance between his pro-US views and his need to sound patriotic to secure his political future in Pakistan.

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  • Peace Seeker
    Aug 24, 2012 - 12:54PM

    An imaginative reset of Pak-US relations is the need of the hour. We need a comprehensive policy study from Pakistan’s experts in International Relations. The Institute of Strategic Studies has this work cut out for it. The Government should form a study group for this purpose and include experts from the former, other such institutes, such as, dealing with regional studies and the like, from the Universities, from the foreign office and from the media. Then their recommendations can be discussed in the Parliament.

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  • Aahjiz BayNawa
    Aug 24, 2012 - 6:19PM

    Haqqani: ““I still think a full proper investigation on the Pakistani side is needed to find out how Bin Laden lived in Pakistan and who supported him — within or outside the government.” Also, many think that a full and proper investigation is due on who wrote the infamous memo.

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  • Just Manners
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:08PM

    Through his book, “Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military,” has Mr. Haqqani brought both the Mosque, Islamic Groups and the Military in ill repute? Are all the Islamic groups extremists? Is it okay to denigrate the Mosque, which is a symbol of one of the great religions? Did he advocate that the US defang Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal? Is it not true, that often the incompetence of civilian governments have invited the interference of the Generals?

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  • Khalid Mahmood
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:44PM

    @Peace Seeker:
    I would like to add just as the US Congress, for example, invites experts to educate themselves of details and technicalities about the subjects they are preparing to legislate about, the Pakistan Parliament should also invite experts likewise.

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  • Justin Truthful
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:57PM

    Why and how should we believe you, Mr. Haqqani, as you changed your loyalties from PML-N to PPP, whichever party was on the way to power! Besides, now you are trying to get in the good books of US think tanks, the US media, and have contacts with American political influential personages and want US backing for becoming a political leader, possibly the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Your frequent change of loyalties causes people to question your sincerity.

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  • Justin Truthful
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:15PM

    “Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.” However, some comments that follow this guideline do not get posted or posting is delayed quite a bit?

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  • Sadia
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:59PM

    Bin Laden was living in a posh area just few Kilometer away from the military hub. Hussain Haqqani is quite right and during his tenure as ambassador he has castigated for the dire consequences of alleged support by our sacred cows. He was an intelligent and skilled ambassador, who pulled controversial Pak-US ties for long. His views are always logical and carry weight. The mistrust between US and Pak is not a new phenomenon and Hussain Haqqani always tried to bridge differences between US and Pak. His cogent views always displeased some powerful sections in society and therefore he was forced to face the music and sidelined but we should remember that side-lining Hussain Haqqani has just added insult to injuries. Former ambassador always pin pointed the key issues with Pakistani nation, that we love to receive aid from US but we continue hating it and declare it sole enemy of Pakistan and Islam.Recommend

  • Aahjiz BayNawa
    Aug 25, 2012 - 6:51AM

    @Sadia:
    Bin Laden’s issue must be investigated on its own merits. But it seems Haqqani is using this issue to distract attention from suspicions surrounding his role in the writing of the famous/infamous memo. “Sacred cows” or not, he is quite rightly suspected of taking a national matter out of the national ambit and asking for foreign intervention for its resolution. National matters must be resolved without undue foreign influence. Anyone seeking foreign involvement in a national issue is naturally a suspect. Haqqani is lucky as the nature of the issue of the memo was so sensitive it had to be shelved, in the best national interest or he would have faced much more severe consequences. The only thing cogent or rationally persuasive about him is that for self-promotion he does not hesitate to change loyalties which clearly cast him as an opportunist and as an unabashed turncoat.

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  • Peace Lover
    Aug 25, 2012 - 12:32PM

    The book Haqqani wrote concentrates only on Islamic groups and the military. But there are host of other causes that bedevil Pakistan, including ethnicity, which partly was responsible for the breakup of the country. Another, cause is feudalism, which also contributed to the dismemberment as the landed interests of former West Pakistan did not accept the majority rule of the Awami League, as they feared land reforms would snatch away their political power base. Haqqani excludes important causes of Pakistan’s trobles and he focusses only on two variables. Thus, he selects certains explanations, leaving others. Therefore, selection makes his analysis lopsided. So, one might ask what was the reason for him to leave out other causative factors?

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  • Aahjiz BayNawa
    Aug 25, 2012 - 12:42PM

    @Sadia:
    The issue of Bin Laden’s presence should be investigated on its own merits. But it seems Haqqani is using this issue to distract attention from the issue of who wrote the memo. He is alleged to have taken a national matter out of the national ambit and for asking for foreign intervention for its resolution. National matters should be resolved without foreign influence. Anyone seeking foreign involvement in a national issue is naturally questionable.

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