Talks with India must be seen as global respectability, says former Pak envoy

Washington: Former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, has said that Pakistan’s recent initiatives for talks with India must be seen in the context of the economic and international pressures on Pakistan.

“Pakistan tends to engage in talks with India for global respectability, but its dominant military is unable to shed its ideological aversion to normal ties with India,” he observed.

Haqqani wrote in an article recently that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is right to have determined that “talks for talks’ sake are meaningless as long as Pakistan refuses to change its view of its larger neighbour as a permanent enemy.”

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Speaking to reporters in Washington, he reiterated his view that another high-level meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials would be fruitless unless it is accompanied with dismantling of Pakistan’s terrorist infrastructure and giving up the notion of India and Pakistan being permanent enemies.

“Between 1950 and December 2015, when Modi dropped in on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, leaders of the two countries have met 45 times,” Haqqani noted, but talks have never led to a stable peace.

“The door to negotiations must never be considered permanently shut but nor should dialogue be an end in itself,” he remarked.

Haqqani is currently Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute and is considered an uncompromising critic of the Pakistani establishment and Jihadi ideology.

In Haqqani’s view hostility towards India emanates from Pakistan’s national ideology based on religious identity and antipathy towards India cultivated by the military that dominates the country.

India and Pakistan have unresolved disputes like many countries, he said, but other countries do not have national ideologies revolving around opposition to others.

Haqqani explained that Pakistan inherited one-third of British India’s army, which had originally been raised for the Second World War.

“Unlike other armies, Pakistan’s military was not raised proportionate to an external threat. It needs a threat proportionate to its size to justify its claims on the meager resources of a low-income country,” he observed.


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