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Haqqani: Pakistan just wants to blame its neighbors

May 17th, 2012
05:40 PM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

Haunted by the remnants

Pakistan President Asif Al Zardari is scheduled to attend a U.N. summit on Afghanistan in Chicago this weekend. However, his meeting with President Obama may depend on whether Pakistan will open the critical NATO supply route into Afghanistan. That route was closed after a NATO air strike killed twenty four Pakistani soldiers and the U.S. refused to apologize.

In this atmosphere of distrust and dysfunction, Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, and now residing in America, appeared Thursday on Amanpour.

“We must understand that there are two parallel narratives here,” said Haqqani, speaking from Washington. “Pakistanis think that the Untied States is an untrustworthy ally; the Americans think that Pakistani’s don’t always fulfill their end of the bargain, especially when it comes to terrorism.”

But how to end the deadlock and distrust? Haqqani realizes it won’t be easy: “Christiane, remember we need to crack down on these extremists for Pakistan’s sake. More Pakistanis have been killed by them than they have killed Americans…. America will leave Afghanistan someday. But we will still be haunted by the remnants.”

Among the things that “haunt” his country, he said, is the refusal to allow for honest debate and accountability: “Look, I am, as a Pakistani, very concerned about the direction of my own country. I am among those who feel that there are elements in Pakistani society who don’t allow us to have an honest and realistic debate about foreign policy.”

“We just want to blame our neighbors, our enemies,” said Haqqani, “we don’t want to take account of what’s wrong at home.”

Talk to any Pakistani for five minutes

However, he did not minimize his country’s legitimate concerns: “We are concerned about the future of Afghanistan. We don’t want India to create a kind of presence in Afghanistan that the U.S. wouldn’t have tolerated if the Soviets had created it in Mexico during the Cold War.”

But hampering any honest discussion between Pakistan and the U.S., he said, is “a small group of people ideologically motivated and seeking essentially the domination of an Islamist ideology within Pakistan, but unable to get votes.”

“Talk to any Pakistani for five minutes,” he said, “and by the fifth minute he will be getting angry about America far more than he would about whoever hid Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Now there’s been a year that’s gone and we haven’t yet prosecuted anyone for hiding and protecting Osama bin Laden there. So my point is, as Pakistanis, we need to take some responsibility.”

At the same time, “Pakistan demanded an apology for the Salala incident (the lethal air strike) when Pakistan’s troops were killed. America disregarded that request.”

We were left with the baby

He was speaking of reciprocity: “Look, we helped the Americans fight the Soviets in the ‘80’s and what was the result? Civil war in Afghanistan, the Americans left, we were left with the baby and we paid the price for the civil war. Then 9-11 came, we became partners with the Americans again, and this time when the Americans leave, we will still be picking up the pieces.”
“Pakistanis have to wake up to the fact that whatever advantages they have as the ground line of communication provider, that advantage is not going to last forever. As the Americans withdraw, yes, they need Pakistan to withdraw their heavy equipment. But in a worst case scenario, they can say ‘Blow up the equipment, let’s get out of here through other means.’”

However, he cautions that America has its own inflammatory political climate and that, too, hampers any honest discussion between the two nations: “Your domestic politics and our domestic politics often come in the form of a clash, and when they clash nothing good comes out of it.”

I got punched by both sides

Haqqani said that he was not alone among Pakistanis advocating relations between their country and the United States. However, he admitted they are “not always understood there.”

“Well, look, you know Christiane, that I did not come to a very good end as ambassador. I ended up being accused of all sorts of things because I was trying to explain to people in Pakistan that the sentiment in America was now turning against our country. And I kept telling people in America that they need to be a little more understanding of what’s going on in Pakistan. So the proverbial middleman, I got punched by both sides.”
He risks more than punches if he were to return to his homeland. “I will not go back to Pakistan for the moment,” he said. “Purely because there are elements there who have been threatening my life…So until such time as the ideologically motivated hateful rhetoric against me is ending, it’s better for me to stay out.”

But that doesn’t mean he intends to stay out of the argument. “Pakistan has to decide,” he said, “Do we want to embrace a future that will make Pakistan a future South Korea, or do we want to embrace a future that will make us like Iran and Somalia? And I think we should opt for an optimistic future, not a hateful future.”

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Pakistani

    Oh look, another anti-Pakistani thread, this too by an Indian.

    As if we didn't see these before. Grow up America, stop putting the blame on others.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Reply
    • sanman

      Christiane Amanpour is Indian? I thought she's of Iranian origin.

      May 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
    • Viki

      tum saalo porkis ko akal hai nahi, apne jaahil hone ka sabut naa do, Shez a US citizen of Iranian origin. Samjha kya

      May 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Reply
      • T Shah

        you are just another Indian hater......raised on mothers milk imbibed with hatred for Pakistan.

        May 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
      • Mari

        Hmm it looks like your site ate my first comment (it was emltexery long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for inexperienced blog writers? I'd certainly appreciate it.

        July 9, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • AcclaimedMan

      Hmmmm....

      Recent fears of Pakistan ....

      1. Cartoons on Mohhamad
      2. Twitter
      3. India in Afghanistan
      3. India in India
      4. US in Afghanistan
      5. US drones in Afghanistan with a clear look inside Pakistan
      6. ..............
      7. ..............
      8. .........

      May 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  2. sanman

    Pakistan has simply bamboozled the US in a shell game. When the civilian politicians are in charge, then they say they're not responsible and are hostages to the army. When the Army is in charge, then they say they're not responsible and are only bowing to the wishes of the people. When ordinary Pakistanis are then confronted with questions about support for terror, then they say it's not them but only the extremists whom they're powerless to deal with. So all that's happening here is a buck-passing game, where the buck keeps getting passed around in a circular loop.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  3. AK

    Pakistan should shudder the day when NATO forces will be out of Afghanistan and Pakistan loses all its relevance. They have already proved themselves as enemies of civilized world and patrons of taliban and terrorists. They are just a step away from being declared a terrorist state.

    May 17, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Reply
    • MUSLIM KHAN

      We dont care, you piece of filth and trash. Better a terrorist than a piece of white trash like you or hindu.

      May 18, 2012 at 2:23 am | Reply
      • Viki

        U r thrash bloody fanatic hater. how dare u drag religion into this. Go n check ur ancestral history chances r they were also hindus and forced 2 convert by invading Arabs & Turks. U shameless terrorist get lost from here these forums r not 4 haters like U. filthy creatures like u deserve to b bombed by drones

        May 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • T Shah

      Shows how clueless you are, this part of the world will never ever be ignored, not since the times of Alexander the Great, it is a crossroads between the East and the West. Last time America turned its back on this region, you know what happened on 911, just because OBL is gone, so you think you can talk rude? Sooner or later the US will be back seeking Pakistans help, again and again....its the geo-locale stupid.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  4. AK

    Pakistan does not have a single characteri­stic of a country. Its a cartel of a small but powerful elite who run this losely bound region as their dominian and suck out whatever resources they can before moving to other countries just before the so called country implodes. Its a sinking ship with some very rich crew members ready with the only lifeboat !!!

    May 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  5. Khan

    Hussain Haqqani and anyone listening to him is a joke, almost as bad a joke as Indian Intelligence calling Businessmen terrorists...

    May 18, 2012 at 2:23 am | Reply
  6. krm1007

    Hussain Haqqani’s points are well taken. He has been in position of power in the Pakistani government. What did he achieve? Why couldn’t he contribute to the resolution of issues that he is now raising sitting across the Atlantic?

    May 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  7. krm1007

    As far as Pakistan-USA relations are concerned there are none and both countries need to move on in different directions. They have not been able to develop friendship in 60 years. The biggest favor that USA can do for Pakistan is to stop all reimbursements/aid. Pakistan should stand on its feet. With the right leadership this can be achieved in 9 months.

    May 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • pakamerican

      U mean imran khan? A play boy converted in taliban khan lolz. I thought after ISI's Pasha's retirement he be orphan again! I guess he found new dad in new isi chief! Now i know some foreign born and raised confused Paki kids will bring storm in a tea cup and start cursing wailing and accusing me lol.

      May 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
      • krm1007

        You talkin to me? If so, in my opinion Imran Khan is not the ultimate answer but may have to do for time being when his turn comes...if it comes. What I think has to happen is for all factions of middle class including the educated ones to come out on the streets and say enough is enough.

        May 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
      • krm1007

        @pakamerican...then next step may be to invite all the existing nincompoops to a party for some tea and cookies...if you get my drift!!

        May 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
      • T Shah

        Imran Khan is only better in one way, he is better than Zardari and Nawaz, otherwise, i agree with you, he is nothing more than a playboy turned mullah,

        May 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  8. krm1007

    With respect to Pakistan being responsible for all things bad happening in the neighborhood, Haqqani is being disingenuous. If Pakistan was so influential it should be given a seat as a permanent member of UN Security Council

    May 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • krm1007

      Yes, Pakistan does need to take blame for part of the mess in the region alongwith others.

      May 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  9. krm1007

    Pakistan has tremendous potential and everyone knows it except the Pakistanis. A new layer of leadership has to emerge in all avenues to move this country forward. They don’t have to be rocket scientists… just nationalists. Pakistan has the capability of spinning on a dime. Now, does it take a wizard to figure out that people need electricity and running water to survive in this day and age? I hope not. Let’s start with this premise and the rest will fall in place.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  10. pakamerican

    HH is freaking right in Pakistan freaking military has created this hate for all atmosphere. Hell even Pakistani media is full of hate too. They glorify army against weaker politicians. Bring minor politician's corruption cases while hiding army's. They dont find any army's corruption, who are selling from porridge to steel. From defense housing authorities to farmhouses are sold by them. Pak military is not a military anymore. But it's a freaking mafia. They will never let any change come to Pak. Their policy of hatred will not change. It's pure and simple BUSINESS.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
    • Angel

      Say thanks a lot for your time and enegry to have had these things together on this web site. Josh and i also very much treasured your insight through the articles on certain things. I know that you have several demands on your schedule so the fact that you took equally as much time as you did to help people really like us through this article is definitely highly prized.

      July 7, 2012 at 7:22 am | Reply

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