Don't be warrior nation or China pawn: Ex-envoy Haqqani to Pak

15 Apr 2018

Pakistan should become a "trading nation rather than a warrior nation" while ensuring it does not turn into China's pawn, Islamabad's former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani, has said.
In an interview to news agency PTI, Haqqani said Pakistan also needs to take a call on what is more important supporting terror suspect Hafiz Saeed or gaining international credibility and respect. Amid the consolidation of the already-robust Sino-Pak ties, Haqqani, who served as ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011, stressed Pakistan should not go from being dependent on the US to relying on China and must refrain from becoming a "Chinese pawn". Pakistan needs to build a self-sustaining economy, he said, warning Islamabad of the pitfalls of aligning with a major power.
Haqqani, who was in India last week for the launch of his new book 'Reimagining Pakistan: Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State', said the country needs to "re-think its overall direction", including in the economic sector. Pakistan should become a "trading nation rather than a warrior nation" and start thinking about geo-economics rather than geo strategy, said the 61-year-old former diplomat and author of 'Pakistan Between Mosque and Military' and 'India v Pakistan: Why Can't We Just Be Friends', among other books. "Trying to take advantage of its strategic location by allowing itself to be used by one major power or another has brought Pakistan to the present situation and if we continue to play the same game, the result is not going to be very different in the future, he said.
While Islamabad should seek good relations with Beijing, "there is no reason why Pakistan should become a Chinese pawn in the mistaken belief" that this would somehow make it a power in its own right, he said when asked if Pakistan's dependence on China could prove counterproductive. The former envoy’s remarks assume significance as in January, the US had suspended more than USD 1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of harbouring terror groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Afghan guerilla group Haqqani Network.
After US President Donald Trump had lashed out at Pakistan earlier this year for providing "safe havens" to terrorists, China had defended Islamabad, saying the world community should acknowledge its all-weather ally's "outstanding contribution" to counter terrorism.
Asked if America's tougher stance against terror would push Islamabad into a robust military alliance with Beijing, Haqqani said the more America and India came close, the more Pakistan would try to strengthen its ties with China.
"But, for Pakistan's own sake, it would be useful to have relationships with multiple partners. Dependence on the US did not prove useful for Pakistan in the 50s and 60s; dependence on China will not necessarily be the key to Pakistan's progress in the 21st century," said Haqqani, who lives in the US, where he is Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Washington-based Hudson Institute.