After 66 years of bilateral ties, U.S.-Pakistani relations are still based on delusions — and Husain Haqqani is on a campaign to correct the diplomatic self-deceptions.
Mr. Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, blames both countries for misunderstanding the fundamental national interest of the other as they blundered along through a rocky Cold War alliance against communism to a tattered partnership against terrorism today.
"The United States looms much larger in Pakistan foreign policy than Pakistan does in U.S. policy," he said at the Hudson Institute in Washington this week.
U.S. administrations since Pakistan split from India in 1947 have tried to win friends in the South Asian nation with military aid, but Pakistan has always wanted more.
"Americans say Pakistanis do not fulfill their promises. Pakistanis complain that America did not come to its aid in its wars with India," Mr. Haqqani said of Pakistan's four wars with India.
Mr. Haqqani sees the United States as a "force for good in the world" but hamstrung by two major weaknesses.
"One is America's attitude to history — that it is irrelevant. The other weakness is that Americans tend to think of the world as a problem for them to solve," he said.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is a nuclear-armed nation with an inferiority complex, beset by wild conspiracy theories and torn by religious strife among extremist Muslims.
Mr. Haqqani noted that a leading Pakistani scholar, a physicist by training, actually teaches his students that the world is run by a cabal of bankers who control people through microchips planted in their brains.
When he arrived in the United States as Pakistan's ambassador in 2008, Mr. Haqqani tried to bridge the differences between Washington and Islamabad.
He tried to be candid with Pakistan's Foreign Ministry and explain its mistakes in dealing with the White House.
In 2011, intrigue ended his diplomatic career.
Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman, claimed that Mr. Haqqani recruited him to deliver to the Pentagon a letter seeking U.S. military help against a possible Pakistani army coup after U.S. commandos had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani hideout.
Mr. Haqqani strongly denied any role in what became known in Pakistan as "Memogate." A politically motivated judicial commission accused him of disloyalty, but Pakistani courts declined to try him on charges of treason.
He resigned as ambassador after the scandal broke. He now is teaching international relations at Boston University and promoting his book, "Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States and an Epic History of Misunderstanding."
Mr. Haqqani, 57, told the Hudson Institute that the book is already controversial in Pakistan.
"The book is only two weeks old, and there have already been a number of fatwas, criticism, [charges of] blasphemy and traitor," he said.
The U.S. ambassador to Germany is trying to patch up relations strained by reports that the National Security Agency spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"It's just going to take time," Ambassador John Emerson told The Associated Press.
He said he has conveyed German anger to Washington, but he added that Germans must understand the "American perspective" for the NSA program aimed at thwarting terrorism.
"There is not a single American over the age of 15 who doesn't have seared in their memory that image of planes going into buildings," he said of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at email@example.com or @EmbassyRow.
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