Saturday, February 22, 2014

Interview with Husain Haqqani

The Diplomat’s Sanjay Kumar speaks with former Pakistan ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani about his book Magnificent Delusions, the state of Pakistan, and its complex relations with India, Afghanistan, and the United States.

Some excerpts:

Can you conceive of Pakistan’s existence without the U.S.?

Pakistan will have to change direction. Its leaders will have to stop thinking in terms of seeking American aid forever in order to confront India. They will have to start building a series of relationship with their neighbors. Islamabad needs to think of its economy. It will have to think about rooting out terrorism completely and it should treat such non-state actors as the enemy. It cannot afford to think that some terrorists are good for Afghanistan and some are valuable for Kashmir and some are bad for Karachi and Lahore. Pakistan will have to realize terrorism does not have a color and its nature is to kill.
Pakistan is going through great political change. Do you look at the developments as a positive sign and a new chapter in Pakistan’s history?

Pakistan is at a crossroads. Jihadis have one narrative for Pakistan; democrats have their own. Among the democrats, there is a division among those who want to see Pakistan as a pluralistic state and those who want to adopt the old ideological paradigm of an Islamic state. The good thing is that the military has receded a little bit from politics but that doesn’t mean that they have given civilians complete freedom in decision making. How Pakistan gets through this stage of building democracy will determine its future. The most important thing for Pakistan is to overcome the ideological obsessions of the past.

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