‘Don’t be a warrior nation or China’s pawn’
Former envoy Hussain Haqqani tells Pakistan leadership
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.