Recently removed Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani urged the American government to take a tougher line on his home country in a remarkably candid speech Wednesday afternoon.
“Pakistan ends up behaving like Syria while wanting to be treated like Israel,” Haqqani told several dozens journalists, think tankers, opinion makers and government officials at a luncheon in Washington held by the Center for the National Interest.
“And the behavior change is not going to come unless and until there is behavior change on your part. So you should stop the meddling. … You have to stop going in and seeing all our politicians and thinking they are all your friends and trying to influence. Make Pakistanis realize that America has an interest in Pakistan, but you know what, America respects Pakistani opinion. Show respect for Pakistani public opinion. And if Pakistanis don’t want to be your friends, you don’t want to be their friends, thank you very much.”
Haqqani, who recently returned to the United States to become director of the Center of International Relations at Boston University, was removed as Pakistani ambassador late last year after facing charges that he sought U.S. help to prevent a military coup in Pakistan in the wake of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Haqqani, who returned to Pakistan to face the charges against him at some personal risk, maintains the charges are baseless.
But Haqqani’s essential argument at the luncheon was that America and Pakistan should no longer put up the pretense that they are allies. Haqqani said that it is unrealistic to believe that “endless discussions and chats and what I call the class of narratives will somehow, some day produce a change of thinking either in Washington” or Islamabad.
The U.S. isn’t going to be convinced to treat India as an enemy for Pakistan’s sake and Pakistan won’t be convinced to give up its nuclear weapons or end its support for jihadi groups it sees as strategically beneficial for “regional influence” because America wants it to, he said.
“So the future of U.S-Pakistan relations is what I call a post-alliance future,” Haqqani explained.
“Now stop thinking of each other as allies. That will give Pakistan flexibility in terms of being able to do certain things which may or may not be approved by the United States, but the people in Pakistan who always claim our sovereignty is most important, they will be able to exercise that sovereignty, but then they will also have to bear the responsibility for that sovereignty.”
America, in turn, will be freer to institute more coercive measures against Pakistan, Haqqani said.
“I am nowadays proposing that it is time for both countries to recognize that the convergence in interest that is needed for two countries to be allies does not exist at this point,” Haqqani further explained, adding that such relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan wouldn’t mean the two couldn’t “work together in areas we can work together.”
Haqqani also said Pakistan needs to form a commission to thoroughly investigate who knew al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, because “somebody knew.”
“If a huge Mafia operation is found in New York, it’s not necessary that the New York police was helping them run their operation, but it is essential that the New York police come clean on why did they fail to find it,” he said.
“It is Pakistan’s responsibility to the world to say who did it? Who? Doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be the government, it doesn’t have to be the ISI, it doesn’t have to be the military and I say that again and again. It may be private individuals. But whoever it is, we need to come clean on that because that is the only way we will reassure the rest of the world that the Pakistan government and the Pakistan state has its hands clean in relation to this whole thing.”