Hussain Haqqani is a former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States. In addition, Haqqani has been a prominent journalist, scholar and educationist. He is currently a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. and the co-editor of Hudson’s signature journal, Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Haqqani is also the Director of the Center of International Relations and a Professor of the Practice of International Relations at Boston University.
Hussain Haqqani has authored several prominent books including Pakistan – between the Mosque and the Military and India and Pakistan: Is Peace Real This Time. In his recent account Magnificent Delusions, Haqqani narrates the tale of mistrust and deceit between US and Pakistan in the last sixty- seven years.
Magnificent Delusions is a book that paints a morbid picture of the long term relations between the US and Pakistan, highlighting the irony that alliance intentions on both sides have always varied greatly in nature. The U.S. has pursued this relationship for expressed ‘global’ security concerns and contrarily, Pakistan has courted the US with the aim of competing with India for regional influence. Despite the large amounts of aid Pakistan has received in terms of finance and arms from the US, it has always chosen to adopt independent pathways of action, never meeting the expectations of the US. He argues that the US supported Pakistan on three occasions; the Cold war in general, the War against Soviets in the 1980s, and the War against Terror. On each occasion, the intentions of the cooperation were different. Haqqani is of the view that the US has made many mistakes in the past while dealing with Pakistan, which has provided immense leverage to Pakistan today.
He argues that the US is the force that has been promoting good in the region for years. Pakistan has repeatedly based its relations on false premises, choosing courses of action that have resulted in the problem of terrorism we face today. Pakistan is largely driven by the army and the ISI, he argues, which are influenced by Islamic ideology to a large extent. He suggests that Pakistan should face its history and diversity honestly.
Americans criticize Pakistan stating that the country has always pursued an independent agenda without placing trust in its allies and has never upheld its promises. Pakistan has benefitted from US aid in terms of products and arms on various occasions based on such false promises. According to American scholars like Morgenthau and George Kennan, a country with weak political establishment is not an appropriate ally for the US.
Haqqani laments that his efforts of redefining the Pak-US relations were not appreciated rather he was accused of working for the Americans.
Often viewed as ‘Washington’s ambassador’ to Pakistan rather than the other way round, Haqqani has blamed both military and government institutions in Pakistan of cheating and playing dirty at the back end of their foreign relations without effectively benefitting from its relations with the major power like the US. Reviewing relations all the way back from Ayub’s era, Haqqani states that US has helped Pakistan by providing nine thousand tons of wheat in order to help protect the country from famine and a resultant “possible political and financial collapse of the friendly government”. While the aid was welcome, the Pakistani military did not seem satisfied with this and considered military aid as the real prize. For this reason, General Ayub Khan decided to handle the task himself.
Pakistan advocated anti-communism in its entreaties to the global community. In return, the Eisenhower administration gave aid to Pakistan to support its anti-communist allies. A decade later it became obvious that Pakistan did not live up to its commitments and was using the aid to prepare for a war against India. However aiding Pakistan was not an easy task for the US, because there were many suspicions in the American circles as can be seen in the writings of Hans Morgenthau well known scholar of international relations wrote that “Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state”. For Pakistan, what matters is its survival as an independent state.
Haqqani’s narrative describes the American way of assessing Pakistan according to Langely, Pakistan is a “small thinking elite,” that includes army’s officer corps which ran the country while masses were restricted to preserve their inadequate South Asian standard of living.” The ambassadors through wanted the Americans to rethink about its alliance with Pakistan. The horse which was assumed to be friendly by the US has grown wild of late and American incentives did not change the Pakistani intentions and course of action.
Haqqani’s main target of criticism seems to be the military establishment of Pakistan where he accuses the army and the ISI for driving the country towards Islamism. In 1992, US intimated Pakistan in an official letter that the ISI has been providing the material support to the militant groups that carry out acts of terrorism against India and now they are threatening the security of the whole region. However, the head of the ISI was of the view that Washington is being driven by the Indo-Zionist lobby. Pakistan is an important state for the US because of its strategic importance and there is hardly any option for US to quit its alliance with Pakistan. He suggests that Pakistan should not interrupt in war in Kashmir rather buy time and improve its diplomatic efforts.
The book based both on fact and analyses reveal certain bitter aspects as to how the countrymen have portrayed the image of Pakistan abroad. Zia ul Haq in his conversation with general Vernon Walters mentioned that he could give his word of honor as a soldier that Pakistan would not develop, much less explode, a nuclear weapon or explosive device. Walters viewed Zia as the most patriotic and superb liar. The death of Zia changed the political scene of the country but army and ISI made sure that country’s policies run in same manner.ISI continued its hyper nationalistic sentiments using it as a tool in asymmetric relationship.
The security establishments played a covert part and the public had very less and false knowledge of the ISI-CIA relations. United States insisted that its drone strikes only targeted terrorists with precision. Meanwhile, the ISI kept quiet about some strikes, possibly the ones they approved, while encouraging protests about others that killed some of their Jihadi allies. The civilians were seldom briefed in detail about the ISI-CIA relationship and had little say in this regard.
For Haqqani, his sincere intention was the well being of his country in terms of relations with the US. Being a part of the government and close to the policy makers, he tried to inform the Pakistani government about the US intentions so that Pakistan could seriously consider benefitting from its relations with US. He narrates, “I sought to overcome the bitterness of the past in order to help lay the foundations of the long term partnership but the major powers in my own country resisted the broader US-Pakistan partnership rooted in mutual trust.
Haqqani believes that the army is being solely defining the national interest of Pakistan for years. However he thinks that his efforts to bridge the mistrust between US and Pakistan were not appreciated in Pakistan and there is a need for Pakistan to base its international relations on facts rather than Islamist ideology. He states that “even well-traveled, erudite, and articulate Pakistani officials echo this ideology without realizing that holding tight to these self-defeating ideas makes little impact on the rest of the world; the gap is widening between how Pakistanis and the rest of the world view Pakistan.