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Ex-envoy says US was wrong to boost Pak military

world Updated: Nov 19, 2013 09:23 IST

AFP
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Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States called on Monday for his country to focus less on defense and said decades of misguided American aid have only enabled the powerful military.

Husain Haqqani, an outspoken academic turned diplomat who was forced to resign in 2011 over charges that he sought US help to curb Pakistan's army, argues in a new book, "Magnificent Delusions," that the two nations have always failed to understand each other.

At a book launch in Washington, Haqqani said Pakistan's military was disproportionately large following the Indian subcontinent's partition in 1947 and that the army has since prioritized US assistance in its goal of reaching parity with New Delhi.

"That is what has caused the internal dysfunction in Pakistan because the military has continued to become stronger. It has helped build Pakistan's national narrative. Pakistanis never paused to think what is our resource base capable of supporting," Haqqani said at the Hudson Institute, a think tank where he is a senior fellow.

"A nation with nuclear weapons should not behave like a guy who keeps buying guns because he says he needs to defend his family and then stays up all night because he's afraid somebody will come and steal his guns -- and then further down has a heart attack because of high blood pressure that he suffered from staying up," he said.

"The American delusion is if (they) give Pakistan enough assistance, they will not want to pursue their objective -- which is totally upside-down, because what you are doing is encouraging the whole process," he added.

Haqqani said relations could be transformed next year when the United States plans to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan, ending a war launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks that has tied Pakistan uneasily to the United States.

But Haqqani called for Pakistan to refocus on fighting widespread poverty and illiteracy and to combat a creeping "ideological nationalism, that being Pakistani equals being 'Islamic.'"

"We can only survive as a pluralist state, like other nations, and that, I think, is not happening," said Haqqani, voicing fear that religious minorities faced an "uphill battle" for survival in Pakistan.

Haqqani called for Pakistan to embrace as a hero Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl shot by Taliban gunmen who opposed female education, rather than figures such as Abdul Qadeer Khan, the nuclear scientist accused of proliferation, or militant Islamist leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, "who has nothing to offer Pakistanis except prejudice, bigotry, violence and terrorism."