Husain Haqqani’s new book Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding comes at a critical juncture of Pakistan-US relations as the two nations aim to work together during 2014 to facilitate a transition in Afghanistan. The book offers us a historical view of a deeply troubled yet interdependent relationship and why the year 2014 is likely to be far from smooth. ‘Magnificent Delusions’ has Haqqani’s signature style: Sharply worded, accessible and at times ironical. The book right at the start gives us a flavor of what follows:
The willingness of my countrymen to believe the worst about their ambassador [Haqqani himself] reflects a deeper pathology. Instead of basing international relations on facts, Pakistanis have become accustomed to seeing the world through the prism of an Islamo-nationalist ideology…these self-defeating ideas makes little impact on the rest of the world; the gap is widening between how Pakistanis and the rest of the world view Pakistan.
The first chapter of ‘Magnificent Delusions’ is an eye-opener for it provides the historic basis of a Pakistani worldview. In a tersely worded narrative, the chapter tells us how Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam in an interview given to Life magazine says: “America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America” and that “Pakistan is the pivot of the world.” The country’s founder thus lays the framework for Pakistan’s foreign policy. Sixty seven years later, Pakistan’s sense of indispensability to the US strategic aims in South-West Asia continues as a delusion that has become a domestic reality. Pakistan’s geostrategic location since Cold War has been vital for West’s policies and perhaps this is why our ruling elites- civil and military- have been able to extract favours and concessions for promises that Haqqani says “..we did not keep”. […]