‘Don’t be a war­rior na­tion or China’s pawn’

For­mer en­voy Hussain Haqqani tells Pak­istan lead­er­ship

Financial Chronicle - - FUNDAMENTALS, POLITICS - ASIM KA­MAL

PAK­ISTAN should be­come a “trad­ing na­tion rather than a war­rior na­tion” while en­sur­ing it does not turn into China’s pawn, Is­lam­abad’s for­mer en­voy to the US, Husain Haqqani has said. In an in­ter­view, Haqqani said Pak­istan also needs to take a call on what is more im­por­tant; sup­port­ing ter­ror sus­pect Hafiz Saeed or gain­ing in­ter­na­tional cred­i­bil­ity and re­spect.

Haqqani, who served as am­bas­sador to the US from 2008 to 2011, was in In­dia last week for the launch of his new book Reimag­in­ing Pak­istan: Trans­form­ing a Dys­func­tional Nu­clear State.

Try­ing to take ad­van­tage of its strate­gic lo­ca­tion by al­low­ing it­self to be used by one ma­jor power or an­other has brought Pak­istan to the present sit­u­a­tion and if we con­tinue to play the same game, the re­sult is not go­ing to be very dif­fer­ent in the fu­ture, said the 61-year-old for­mer diplo­mat and au­thor of Pak­istan Be­tween Mosque and Mil­i­tary and In­dia vs Pak­istan: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends?, among other books.

While Is­lam­abad should seek good re­la­tions with Bei­jing, there is no rea­son why Pak­istan should be­come a Chi­nese pawn in the mis­taken be­lief that this would some­how make it a power in its own right, he said when asked if Pak­istan’s de­pen­dence on China could prove coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. His re­marks as­sume sig­nif­i­cance as in Jan­uary, the US had sus­pended more than $1.15 bil­lion se­cu­rity as­sis­tance to Pak­istan, ac­cus­ing it of har­bour­ing ter­ror groups such as the Afghan Tal­iban and Afghan guerilla group Haqqani Net­work.

Asked if Amer­ica’s tougher stance against ter­ror would push Is­lam­abad into a ro­bust mil­i­tary al­liance with Bei­jing, Haqqani said the more Amer­ica and In­dia came close, the more Pak­istan would try to strengthen its ties with China. “But, for Pak­istan’s own sake, it would be use­ful to have re­la­tion­ships with mul­ti­ple part­ners. De­pen­dence on the US did not prove use­ful for Pak­istan in the 50s and 60s, de­pen­dence on China will not nec­es­sar­ily be the key to Pak­istan’s progress in the 21st cen­tury,” said Haqqani, who now lives in the US. He said the es­tab­lish­ment had not changed its world view and was still hop­ing that lo­gis­ti­cal and other con­sid­er­a­tions would make the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion soften its stance.

On the pos­si­bil­ity of power blocs be­ing formed in the re­gion, he said a “new Cold War” in which Pak­istan aligns with China and In­dia with the US was not go­ing to be pos­i­tive for South Asia. “Align­ing with one ma­jor power against an­other is not the recipe for eco­nomic growth and suc­cess for a coun­try like Pak­istan,” he said.

Haqqani said Pak­istan has made dis­tinc­tions be­tween ter­ror groups that have acted against it and those that have acted out­side the coun­try, and that dis­tinc­tion had not worked to its ad­van­tage. Is­lam­abad’s in­sis­tence on “main­stream­ing ter­ror­ists” rather than marginal­is­ing them is go­ing to be counter-pro­duc­tive for the coun­try.

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