Husain Haqqani: US, Pakistan "understand how much they need each other"

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, discussed the tensions between Pakistan and America along with the reasons why ties between the nations must persist at a Monitor breakfast.

Photo by Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, speaks to reporters at a Monitor breakfast at the St. Regis in Washington, DC on Nov. 16, 2011.

Pakistan's Ambassador Husain Haqqani has represented his country in Washington since 2008, a job that became harder after Osama bin Laden turned up in Pakistan. Mr. Haqqani was the guest speaker at the Nov. 16 Monitor breakfast in Washington. Later that day, he would offer to resign over a political controversy in Pakistan.

US-Pakistan relations:

"We are swimming against our respective national tides. The average American does not look upon Pakistan as a reliable ally. The average Pakistani does not look upon the United States as a friend. Yet both countries understand how much they need each other."

Whether relations have reached an all-time low:

"There are difficulties and challenges, but this can't be called a lower point than the past points of [the US] walking away.... Both sides are still engaged, and we are engaged at multiple levels, and we are engaged at the highest levels."

US politicians' threats to restrict or cut aid to Pakistan:

"Putting restrictions on aid after voting for it is always counterproductive.... It erodes goodwill.... Compared to what you are spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, your assistance to Pakistan is a relatively small amount.... By shutting it down, you are sending people a message that 'we don't care.' "

Pakistan's commitment to fighting terrorism despite some terrorists and terrorist sympathizers in its society:

"We will have to go in a very sort of cautious manner, in a step-by-step manner.... We are willing to do anything and everything in fighting terrorists except taking risks with our internal national cohesion and with our own national security."

The nature of Pakistani politics:

"Try to visualize the United States with a Democratic administration and 36 Fox News channels.... And that is exactly the situation we have in Pakistan.... Our own politics is ... pretty raucous."

On his active use of Twitter:

"Social media for me is a means of explaining to [critics in Pakistan] that I am a human being, that I am somebody who is devoted to Pakistan, that I am as patriotic as they are.... It humanizes me to them."

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