Pakistan no longer enjoys the support of international community on the Kashmir issue and must give up its “ideological obsession” with it, a former top Pakistani diplomat has said.
Calling for a “decisive shift” in Pakistan’s Kashmir approach, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s envoy to the US between 2008 and 2011, said issues around 26/11 Mumbai terror attack accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed could prove stumbling blocks to lasting peace.
A vocal critic of Pakistan military’s control over the civilian government, Haqqani described the Indo-Pak relationship in terms of a “bad marriage” and insisted it was time for a decisive shift in the country’s approach to the Kashmir dispute.
“Pakistan needs to have the kind of approach China has over Taiwan. It doesn’t need to give up its claim but it needs to move on other issues first,” Haqqani said, adding, Pakistan no longer has the support of the international community on the Kashmir issue.
“We need to take a more pragmatic approach rather than making it an ideological obsession,” he said.
Speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs here at Chatham House yesterday, a day before Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar met with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry in Islamabad, Haqqani noted: “It’s a good thing that India and Pakistan are resuming talks. But unfortunately the fundamentals of the relationship are yet to be addressed.
“After initial bonhomie, the Indians will want to know what is happening with the Lakhvi trial; what is happening with Hafiz Saeed; why is Lashkar-e-Taiba still openly operating as Jamaat-ud-Dawa,” said Haqqani, currently senior fellow and director of South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington.
Asked how the impasse could be broken, he said: “Pakistan is part of the international community that has agreed that terrorism is not acceptable. So there are several aspects where responsibility can be fixed.”
Haqqani’s time as ambassador to the US overlapped with the assassination of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, a development he believes had a lasting impact on the country’s image.
“I was ambassador in the US when Bin Laden was shot in Pakistan. I think we owe an explanation to the world as to why he was there,” said the author of ‘Magnificent Delusions’, a catalogue of the Pakistan-US relationship over the years.
Delivering the lecture, ‘Pakistan, Afghanistan and a History of Mistrust’, Haqqani highlighted that Indian presence in Afghanistan is based on trade, aid and education ties and it is not necessarily inimical to Pakistan’s interests.
Calling India “an imaginary threat,” Haqqani said, “Parity with India is not an attainable objective, as quite simply size matters. India’s economy is 10 times larger. It is a kind of psychological and political insecurity that has held Pakistan back. The best strategy would be to focus inward.”