US-Pakistan tensions: Time to stop pretending we are allies?
Pakistan's former ambassador to the US suggests that American attempts to steer Pakistani policy with billions of dollars are only delaying a needed divorce and reset of relations.
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The former Pakistani ambassador to Washington says the two countries should face the fact that their goals and priorities are not going to converge any time soon, and so should drop their stormy partnership to forge a “post-alliance future” based on reality over expectations and each country’s self-interest.
“If in 65 years we haven’t been able to find sufficient common ground to live together … maybe the best is to find friendship outside the marital bond,” says Mr. Haqqani, who was Islamabad’s ambassador to Washington until last November when he fell prey to a Pakistani political scandal.
Haqqani’s conclusion – which he plans to explore in a book to be published next spring, entitled “Magnificent Delusions” – is a variation on the theme of those policy experts in both countries who say the two unhappy partners should “divorce” rather than prolong a dysfunctional marriage where neither side likes or trusts the other.
“I’m not for [the US] declaring Pakistan an enemy,” Haqqani cautions, adding that his reason for proposing a “parting of ways” is so that “the important things can actually be addressed.”
One example: Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and ensuring that it remains secure. Without the fixation on “a broad alliance that doesn’t exist,” he says, “you can … focus on the specific problem.”
He also hints that Pakistan’s bond to the US, and in particular the military and security focus of the relationship, have held Pakistan back from maturing politically in ways it might have been forced to otherwise. “Pakistan ends up behaving like Syria, but wanting to be treated like Israel,” he says.
Haqqani spoke Wednesday at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, before taking up the academic year as a professor of international relations at Boston University – a post he held before becoming ambassador in April 2008.