Pakistan is not an ally of the United States and the “toxic” relationship between the two nation’s is an uncomfortable truth that can no longer be ignored by U.S. officials, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani told TheBlaze.
Haqqani, who is now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Washington D.C., said it “would be much better for Pakistan and the U.S. to accept that their interests as currently defined do not converge and the alliance is over. Then, there can be more honest and realistic communication and engagement.”
Haqqani, whose new book ‘Magnificent Delusions’ was recently released, said “episodes like outing of the CIA Station Chief’s name happen because of the bad ally relationship. Americans want the privileges of an alliance from a country they don’t trust, while Pakistan’s elite wants the benefits of American largesse while whipping up populist hatred against the United States.”
“A reality based relationship will reduce expectations and enable each side to determine what it can or cannot get from the other,” Haqqani added.
Developments in the country last week serve as an example of how toxic a relationship it can be.
Pakistani officials broke protocol by outing the most senior U.S. intelligence official in Pakistan and endangering his or her life in what was basically an expulsion order from the country. TheBlaze has chosen not to reprint the name of the alleged CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, for security reasons.
Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which continues to protest U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, outed the U.S. official during a television interview last week and sent a letter to Pakistani police demanding he be charged as one of the people responsible for the Nov. 21 drone strike that killed five militants including senior commanders of the Haqqani Network.
Lisa Brackenbury, a spokeswoman with the CIA, declined to comment on whether or not the agency sent any response of protest to the Pakistani government after the name of an alleged CIA station chief was revealed. The spy agency also declined to comment on what next steps it would take, however, several news outlets reported that the CIA station chief has already left Pakistan.
Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institute and former 30 year employee with the CIA, told TheBlaze that Pakistan’s decision to release the name of a CIA official is “yet another blow to America’s dysfunctional relationship with Pakistan.”
Riedel, who also chaired the review of Pakistan-Afghanistan strategy for President Obama, said the situation is dangerous to both the U.S. and Pakistan’s national security and “a setback to intelligence cooperation against Al Qaeda.”
U.S. officials for years have noted that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), comparable to America’s CIA, has worked against U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and have worked closely with declared and non-declared terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda, as they use the groups many times to conduct covert operations against India and exert their influence in the region.
Haqqani was also a victim of his unstable government. He was the ambassador to Washington from 2008 to 2011, but left his post after the Pakistani government accused him of passing a memo — known as memogate — to senior Pentagon officials. According to the memo, he was asking the U.S. military for help to stop a coup d’etat his nation’s military was planning against the fledgling democratic government. He denied the charges and memo. He is now living in Boston.
James Carafano, senior defense analyst with The Heritage Foundation, said that Washington has failed in its efforts with Pakistan and it is “stuck playing tit-for-tat with Islamabad.”
“That’s fine for kid’s game, but it is disaster when it comes to playing politics in what might be the most dangerous part of the world,” Carafano said. “Sadly, the White House doesn’t have any other game plan. The back and forth with Pakistan is not only unproductive, it just keeping adding space for Al Qaeda, the Haqqani network, and others to grow making the world less safe of Washington and Islamabad.”
The United States has launched 27 drone strikes in Pakistan this year, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. Since 2009, it is estimated that roughly 2,082 terrorists operating with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist groups in Pakistan’s lawless borderlands have been killed by U.S. drone strikes, according to Pakistani reports and The Long War Journal.
The group also accused John Brennan, the CIA director, of murder and “waging war against Pakistan,” according to the Associated Press report.
Haqqani said Pakistani leadership needs to help change the perception of the U.S. in Pakistan and “will have to shape public opinion in favor of the relationship to maintain its benefits.”
“Currently Pakistani leaders play the game that ‘my people hate America but my government can be useful to the US for a price.’ That is hardly the recipe for stable relations,” he said.
Since the U.S. entered Afghanistan in 2001, relations with Pakistan have always been mired in lack of trust. Numerous U.S. intelligence and military operations have revealed that members of Pakistan’s military, intelligence agency and government have been working against U.S. interests in the region.
Haqqani warned that “every time people think U.S.-Pakistan relations have hit rock bottom and can now only go up, a new rock bottom is discovered.”
“It is important for the two countries to mend fences but to do that they must get over their view of each other as double-dealing allies,” Haqqani added. “Right now the relationship has become rather toxic.”