Haqqani talks US-Pakistan relations

American military aid to Pakistan has had detrimental effects, according to former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani.

At a Tuesday afternoon talk sponsored by Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Haqqani spoke to approximately 30 members of the Yale community about the troubled relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. Although the U.S. has funneled around 40 billion dollars into Pakistani military and developmental operations over the past few decades, Haqqani said America will not be able to change controversial Pakistani policies.

“The American delusion is that it can change Pakistani policy while arming and financing Pakistan,” Haqqani said.

American aid has had three major consequences: fueling continued military conflict between Pakistan and India, postponing essential Pakistani reform and breeding resentment against the U.S. as Pakistan becomes increasingly dependent on American funds, he said.

Haqqani, who is now a political author and journalist, said he thinks Pakistan and America would both benefit from the U.S. “backing away a bit” and letting Pakistan discuss its own national interests.

In part because American aid has allowed the Pakistani government to ignore the country’s lack of economic growth, Haqqani said Pakistan lags behind surrounding countries in both education and exports.

Haqqani, who resigned as ambassador in 2011 after facing accusations that he sought help from the U.S. against the Pakistani military, said he has not returned to Pakistan for over a year. The environment in Pakistan is dangerous for those who advocate for policy change, he said.

“Frankly, I don’t want to run the risk of going to Pakistan and having some idiot shoot me, thinking I’m a traitor or an atheist or an American or an Israeli or whatever agent,” he said. “That is the environment that has been created.”

According to Haqqani, both Pakistan and the U.S. are to blame for the troubled relations between the two nations, and both nations have committed wrongs.

Pakistan, for example, harbored Osama Bin Laden, while the U.S. violated Pakistan’s sovereignty when searching for him there, he said.

“In a nutshell, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship needs to be based on reality and pragmatism instead of delusions and unrealistic expectations from one another that we both have had,” he said.

Members of the Yale community who attended the talk said Haqqani made them view U.S.-Pakistan relations in a new light.

Huma Baig ’16, whose parents are Pakistani, said she is accustomed to hearing Pakistanis voice a more anti-American view in regards to relations between the U.S. and Pakistan than those Haqqani expressed.

“It was very different from what I’m used to hearing,” Baig said. “His approach is much more western, whereas what I’m used to is much more anti-American.”

Jaya Chatterjee, assistant editor for politics and international relations at Yale University Press, said she found Haqqani’s statistics on education and Pakistan most interesting and that she would be interested in exploring what the U.S. could do to help the country develop socially as opposed to militarily.

Haqqani became ambassador in 2008.

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