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‘Some people in Pak feel China still thinks like it did in ’60s, ’70s. It has moved on… In recent years, it has only advised good ties with India”

Pakistan’s ex-Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani speaks about the battle for Pakistan. (IE Photo: Ravi Kanojia)

In this Idea Exchange, foremost Pakistani expert and Pakistan’s ex-Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani speaks about the battle for the heart and soul of Pakistan, and why he believes jehadi ideology has to and will lose. The session was moderated by Associate Editor Y P Rajesh.

Y P Rajesh: You are one of the foremost experts on Pakistan. You have worn many hats, been a journalist, an academic, diplomat, advisor to four Pakistani prime ministers, and an author. And you’ve just written another book, Magnificent Delusions.

Thank you very much. I expect most of your questions to be about Pakistan-India relations and US-Pakistan relations, but I would like to draw you all out. I’m not as concerned about the foreign policy aspects of Pakistan as the direction Pakistan is taking or might take as a nation… If you’re adding new young people to the market and don’t have enough jobs, it’s a problem. In fact, our median age is one year less than yours. In terms of growth, our economy is not growing. Jehadism is not enough for a nation to move forward in the 21st century; nor is a culture of grievance. Pakistanis need to worry about doing something other than having young people burn the flag of some country or the other.

Magnificent Delusions is mainly about US-Pakistan relations. I write about delusions on both sides, and how the US-Pakistan relationship in some ways has undermined Pakistan’s ability to think inward.

My concern has always been how to make sure that Pakistanis are part of the 21st century and not living in some dream world of the 7th or 8th century. Pakistan’s raison d’etre shouldn’t be some abstract ideology, it should be the prosperity of our people.

I’m also here because I’m working at a think tank in Washington DC called the Hudson Institute which has an initiative called ‘India, its neighbours and globalisation’. Is this region the outlier in globalisation? Are our problems catching up and holding us back? Are we spending too much energy on our little quarrels? We’ve had a good sprint, but we’ve kind of run out of breath as a region.

… contd.

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