He also hints that Pakistan’s bond to the US, and in particular the military and security focus of the relationship, have held Pakistan back from maturing politically in ways it might have been forced to otherwise. “Pakistan ends up behaving like Syria, but wanting to be treated like Israel,” he says.
Haqqani spoke Wednesday at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, before taking up the academic year as a professor of international relations at Boston University – a post he held before becoming ambassador in April 2008.
His last appearance in Washington as ambassador was at a Monitor breakfast – on Nov. 16, the same day he was ordered back to Islamabad to answer charges of seeking US government help in deposing Pakistan’s powerful military leadership. The charges – unfounded, according to Haqqani – turned into a political storm the Pakistani media dubbed “Memogate,” because it involved a memo sent to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen seeking US help in preventing a military coup against Pakistan’s weak civilian government.
Haqqani denied having anything to do with the memo, but even as ambassador he was a vocal advocate of a stronger civilian government to which the military would take a back seat. That position earned him the disdain of Pakistan’s military and powerful intelligence services, which openly derided Haqqani for having in their estimation adopted an American perspective on the relationship after living so long in the US.
Haqqani says one need only consider recent opinion polls from both countries to conclude that a relationship based on unrealistic expectations on both sides is not working. He notes that a Pew global opinion poll earlier this year revealed that 74 percent of Pakistanis view the US as an “enemy” – almost identical to the percentage of Americans that a Fox News found do not consider Pakistan an “ally.”