U.S.-Pakistan Relations Shrouded By Decades of Misunderstanding
In 1947, the world watched as South Asia gave birth to a new independent nation. That nation was called Pakistan -- a word combining Persian and Hindi to signify a holy and pure country.
That name, however, now stands as an example of tragic irony. Since Pakistan established itself as a militant nation, internal tension and strained international relations -- particularly those with the United States and India -- have tainted Pakistan’s community.
According to former Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani, the longstanding, militaristic U.S.-Pakistan relationship has resulted in years of misunderstanding between the two countries. Haqqani spoke to WNPR’s Where We Live about the countries’ historically charged alliance -- something he outlined in his most recent book Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding. In it, he attributed many of the U.S.-Pakistan ideological discrepancies to confused views on terrorism and India.
“Pakistan looks upon India as its existential threat. It has used American weapons against India in three wars. It continues to worry about India having influence in Afghanistan when the Americans leave,” Haqqani said. “Pakistan’s worldview, shaped by its military, is all India-centric. America doesn’t look at that region that way. America’s biggest concern is terrorism.”
In its counter-terrorism efforts, the United States has contributed nearly $40 billion in military aid to Pakistan. Sohaib Shaikh of the Pakistani American Association of Connecticut told Where We Live that the United States must redirect its Pakistani investments in order for progress to be made between the two nations. Both he and Husain Haqqani believe it is necessary to begin building Pakistan’s economy, democracy, and educational system on a more grassroots level.
“That cannot happen if most of the resources of the country go to one institution, which is the military,” Haqqani said.