‘U.S. more keen on ties with India than Pakistan’

New Delhi April 12 Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. has deteriorated in recent years, and this will have an impact on India’s neighbour, said Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani diplomat. Speaking at the launch of his book, Reimagining Pakistan: Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State, the author said there were a number of factors that have turned the tables in the Pakistan-U.S. ties.

“First, Pakistan has already given what it has to the Americans. There are not many al-Qaeda operatives left in Pakistan to be handed over to the U.S.,” Mr. Haqqani said in response to Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor, The Hindu, who moderated the event.

“Secondly, for the Americans, ties with India seem to matter more than ties with Pakistan. Earlier there were many, both inside and outside the administration, who supported Pakistan. But (after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. navy seals), that support has come down,” he said.

Security oriented

The problem with Pakistan’s policy making, in Mr. Haqqani’s view, is that it is highly security oriented. Even as India surged ahead in revamping its economy, Pakistan got locked in its security obsessions, he said.

Now, when there are cracks in the U.S.-Pakistan ties, the military’s argument is again strategic. It says Pakistan’s geo-strategic location is an asset and that it could warm up towards Russia and China. “I think even that argument is problematic. Historically, China hasn’t done much for Pakistan. Now they have started investing in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor because they have surplus money and resources,” said Mr. Haqqani. The former diplomat, who is currently living in the U.S., criticised Pakistan’s weak response to jihadists, pointing out that Pakistan’s Islamisation drive started from its birth. Pakistan has been soft on groups within the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) that are closer to the Afghan Taliban. There are other jihadist groups as well in Pakistan, such as Lashkar and Jaish.”

The author who works with a think tank in the U.S. at present said Pakistan’s Islamisation drive started with its birth. “Calling the country the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was the tipping point. Then you have forces waiting for their turn. Under (Zulfikar Ali) Bhutto, this drive picked up pace. And Zia (Ul Haq) moved the car into the fourth gear with his Islamisation push,” he said.

Positive message

Mr. Haqqani said India should send a positive message to the ordinary Pakistanis, especially to its youth. “The Indian message should not be that of hate. India should tell Pakistanis that you don’t see them as a permanent enemy, despite the propaganda from across the border. It’s not in India’s interest to have a failed state on its borders,” he said.