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In this Walk the Talk on NDTV 24×7 with The Indian Express Editor in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to US, talks of how Pakistan needs to get over its feeling of ‘eternal animosity’ towards India, put terrorists on trial, and build its economy.
It is my second conversation in just over a year with a wonderful friend of mine, Husain Haqqani. Remember the last time I told you that all my Pakistani journalist friends have become mushir or wazir or safir, that is advisor or minister or ambassador. You have become all three. Now, you have become a fourth, you have become a scholar and an academic.
I guess one should keep reinventing oneself.
You head the very prestigious Hudson Institute. So, what do you do, look after India, Pakistan, AfPak, America?
Basically, we have a programme on South and Central Asia, which I am directing. The idea is to study how South Asia fits into the new globalised economy and how this region can contribute to global growth, rather than being an outlier.
It has been a long journey for you from the backstreets of Karachi.
Absolutely. Very, very long journey. But I think I have not arrived yet.
Tell us about yourself. Growing up in the backstreets of Karachi, being under Jamaat influence.
I was born in a Mohajir family. My family migrated from Delhi to Pakistan in 1947 and struggled to establish themselves in a new country. We were several children. I was number five of six. I studied hard, and was influenced by Jamaat-e-Islami as a young child, because that is what our neighbourhood knew. And then, I grew into student politics. After that, I entered journalism. I worked with Nawaz Sharif before he became the Prime Minister and a little bit after that. I served as ambassador in Sri Lanka and then I realised that my better fit was with Benazir Bhutto with whom I worked till her dying day.
You served as ambassador to America at a very vital time.
Yes, at a time of not only complex relationships between Pakistan and United States, but also because many interesting events happened then. Mumbai (26/11) happened while I was ambassador in Washington, which had implications for US, Pakistan and India relations. And Osama bin Laden was found when I was ambassador. So yes, I dealt with the trickiest and toughest questions on US-Pakistan relations.
And nearly, and effectively, got exiled on charges of treason, which were never quite specifically levelled.
They have never been formally levelled, but it is a peculiarly Pakistani thing — you create an air about someone without really charging them. So, now I am in academics, and published a new book called Magnificent Delusions.
A Pakistani patriot, who believes in better relations with India.
Absolutely. I really think the crux of most problems in Pakistan is the continued…