Former Pakistan diplomat: To be called a traitor is a badge of honour

Apr 13, 2018, 11:32 IST | Hemal Ashar

In a freewheeling chat, Husain Haqqani talks terror, treason and why the neighbouring country needs to break out of its 'hate India' fixation

Husain Haqqani. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Husain Haqqani. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Husain Haqqani is a writer in exile. The author is in Mumbai to promote his book: 'Reimagining Pakistan: Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State'. Haqqani Pakistan's former ambassador to the US is now based in Washington DC. The Karachi-born writer says simply, "I live in exile. If I go back to Pakistan, I may be killed." In a freewheeling interview at a SoBo hotel, Haqqani speaks about terror, treason and Pakistan's unenviable position right now in the global context.

Where do you see Pak on the world stage today?
Most people in the world view Pakistan negatively...I see Pakistan not imploding or exploding, but stagnating. And when the younger generation feel they have nothing to look forward to in their country, it is evident there is a crisis. Today, 40 per cent of Pakistan is illiterate and that is inexcusable. Pakistan may be strong militarily, but that does not earn you respect.

When accused of harbouring terrorists, Pak says it is the biggest victim of terrorism...
The Pakistani citizens are the victims of terror. Yet, it is the Pakistan state machinery that is harbouring perpetrators of terror. In that way, Pakistan is playing both the arsonist and the fire brigade.

You have been seen as complicit with the Americans in the Osama Bin Laden raid...
I had nothing to do with the raid. It was the ISI which was caught with its pants down. Pakistan had to find a scapegoat after it was exposed and it found me, saying that it was my liberal policy (when I was diplomat) of giving visas to Americans that facilitated this raid...I had done nothing to humiliate Pakistan. The country humiliated itself.

You are called a traitor by some Pakistanis...
To be called a traitor is a badge of honour, because people calling me that are those that put Pakistan in jeopardy. Pakistan has a long history of calling those who do not toe the military line as traitors. Some also call Malala (Yousufzai) a traitor... I am calm and composed because nobody outside believes the things my detractors say about me. I get emails from young Pakistanis saying they respect me because I factor them in and think and speak for them.

On the India-Pak equation...
The average person in Pakistan has much more in common with the average person in India than he is ever allowed to recognize or acknowledge. India and Pakistan have to live like neighbours.

Reimagining Pakistan: Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State by Husain Haqqani; published by HarperCollins India.

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