Friday, August 26, 2005

Haqqani - 'The Unholy Army Mullah Alliance'

Husain Haqqani has a flawed reputation in Pakistan, not only for his notoriously self-advancing political flip-flops, but also for his grubby repute as the originating godfather of corrupt - lifafa - journalism.

Nevertheless he has managed to write a fine study of Pakistan’s political history, with particular emphasis on the historically symbiotic relationship between the Islamic cleric and the army leadership.

There are one or two glitches in his reasoning but nothing profound. I, for one, don’t buy his theory that Bhutto possibly walked into ‘a trap’ as a result of a glowing ISI memo that suggested that he would ‘sweep the polls’ in 1977.

Rather than write a lengthy review of Pakistan: Between Mosque And Military , here is a pertinent excerpt from one already published in the Wall Street Journal:

After each of Pakistan's many coups, Mr. Haqqani shows, the Pakistani military has "adopted Islamic ideology" to fashion itself as the guardian of the nation and its core beliefs. In doing so it has repeatedly co-opted Islamist organizations--notably the Jamaat-e-Islami--for cover and support. The military has also followed a policy of divide and rule, patronizing existing Islamist groups while seeding new ones that might rival them.
Mr. Haqqani marshals a wealth of evidence to document such claims. He describes in detail the mosque-military alliance during Pakistan's first two military regimes--that of Field Marshall Ayub Khan (1958-69) and Gen. Yahya Khan (1969-71), both generally regarded as secular, whiskey-swilling good old boys. He thus shows that Pakistan's creeping Islamization predates the rule of Gen. Zia ul-Haq (1977-88), the man widely held responsible for giving Islam a major role in all aspects of Pakistani life. Gen. Zia, it turns out, only tightened an alliance that already existed.
Mr. Haqqani argues that, over the past two decades, Pakistan's army has fueled the passions of some of the country's most extreme radicals. Bankrolling these groups has served the strategic purpose of rendering the military desirable by contrast. International observers--not least the U.S. State Department--thus conclude that the military is necessary for Pakistan's stability. The shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has played an especially critical role in this game.
As a 1990 ISI report on the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations concluded: "It was important to maintain the impression of widespread anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistani society, which could be assured by periodic demonstrations by Islamists. This would create sympathy for Pakistani military and intelligence officials among their US counterparts." Flash forward to 2005: Gen Musharraf's regime bans the protest rallies of journalists, feminists and members of the Pakistan People's Party, headed by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Meanwhile, Islamists manage to hold anti-American "million man marches" throughout the country. How little times have changed.

.... What Mr. Haqqani shows is that a Manichean dichotomy--army good, Islamists bad--obscures the partnership between the two. A better way of combating Islamic radicalism, Mr. Haqqani argues, is to strengthen the very democratic forces that the military abhors.


Honest Desi said...

I fail to understand why Onlooker had to indulge in the favorite Pakistani pastime of pulling someone's leg. While praising Mr. Haqqani's book, almost unanimously praised by reviewers as a work of research and analysis, Onlooker insists on trashing the author by repeating unsubstantiated rumors about him.

Mr. Haqqani is clearly a controversial figure in Pakistan and all controversial figures have flawed reputations. Some people like them, some hate them. The real issue for Onlooker should have been whether there are charges against Mr. Haqqani's integrity that he can substantiate. In the absence of substantiated charges, throwing casual remarks based on comments he has heard from one set of people is not only idiosyncratic. It is nasty in that it might hurt the credibility of Mr. Haqqani's work.

How is Mr. Haqqani a political flip-flopper? He was Islamically inclined as a student and has written about it very effectively. (See his pieces in Foreign Policy). He worked with Nawaz Sharif from 1988 to 1993 and then, for publicly stated reasons, joined Benazir Bhutto. From what I understand, he has consistently stood at that position since 1993 and even went to jail in 1999. To me that is a genuine change of opinions, not flip flopping. After all, Mr. Jinnah --the Quaid-e-Azam also went from the Home Rule League to the Congress to the Muslim League. And, of course, his political career advanced with each change. There is nothing wrong with self-advancement, if it is not at the expense of the common good.

As for the allegation that Mr. Haqqani was the founder of corrupt journalism in Pakistan, that is probably a reference to rumors floated against him by the ISI and Mr. Sharif's allies at the time he deserted them and joined the democratic forces led by Ms. Bhutto. Pakistani journalism has been corrupt since the days of Ayub Khan and with the exception of some petty minded people I do not know of credible Pakistani or international journalists accusing Mr. Haqqani of lifafa journalism.

Onlooker must have the magnanimity to appreciate the evolution of Husain Haqqani. The man apparently started out with no advantages of birth, did not have parents who could send him to college in the U.S. or England and inherited neither a fortune nor a title. That he has been able to write the definitive book on the unholy Army-Mullah alliance should be admired without qualification.

Why spoil praise for a good book by unjustly hurling invective at its author?

Anonymous said...
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Onlooker said...

It is nice to see that Mr Husain Haqqani has found a fan club during his short stint in the US - a feat he was incapable of during the long years that he spent climbing the opportunity ladder in Pakistan politics.

There was good reason for fans not to flock to Mr Haqqani. Right from this student politics with the Jamaat's student wing, the dreaded Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba, at Karachi University there is much that Mr Haqqani is answerable for. The violence at the university and the brutal suppression of free speech that the IJT imposed on the campus in those days was done with Mr Haqqani very much an active player. Many still say that he was the architect of the IJT's policy of using brute force to suppress opposition opinion.

We next saw him on PTV - which was a kind of a launching pad for him -during the 1985 partyless elections. It was an election which destroyed Pakistan's politics in more ways than one and much that we see wrong with Pakistan's politics today dates back to that election. It was because of the destructive potential of the election that every liberal and progressive party in the country boycotted those elections. Yet there was Mr Haqqani at his most articulate, lauding the farcical exercise as if it was the best thing that had happened to the country since its birth. Indeed, his laudatory commentary on the 1985 elections won him a front seat in the club of those who make a career out of legitimising dictatorships.

Having become General Ziaul Haq's "favourite soldier of Islam", he next spearheaded the ugliest election campaign in the country's history. In 1988 as a paid advisor to Nawaz Sharif, he was the architect of the nasty smear campaign against Benazir Bhutto - which ranged from branding her a security risk to air-dropping leaflets showing photographs of her relaxing by the poolside in a revealing swimming costume.

Mr Haqqani was instrumental in bringing down an elected government - through the good offices of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) - by turning the Punjab against the Centre. By doing so, he helped lend further legitimacy to the 8th Amendment which in time proved to be the death blow for democracy in Pakistan.

You make much of Mr Haqqani going to jail. It is a known fact that for the first two years of General Musharraf's dictatorship, Mr Haqqani was happily running a lucrative consultancy with major government departments as his clients. Anyone who knows Pakistan knows that such contracts are only obtained through political connections which Mr Haqqani obviously had. And when he went to jail, it was over some fall out with his business associates who clearly had better connections than him.

As far as going to jail for political convictions is concerned, we all know where Mr Haqqqani stands. Bhutto's attempts at releasing political prisoners - some of them having served 10 years under Zia for committing absolutely no crime - were fiercely resisted by Mr Haqqani. Everyone in Lahore knows the lengths to which he went in branding those political prisoners "criminals" and attributing the deteriorating law and order situation in the Punjab (under Mr Haqqani's employer Mian Nawaz Sharif) to their release. That is how much he cares for political convictions.

I can go on endlessly about the damage Mr Haqqani has done to liberal and democratic values in Pakistan. But I will stop here, for the time being.

’Honest Desi’ you have quite astonishingly compared Mr Haqqani’s acts self-advancing acts of political disloyalties with that of Mr. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, whom as you say ’went from the Home Rule League to the Congress to the Muslim League’. Historical reality states that Mr Jinnah’s change of heart was motivated by serving the larger interests of Indian Muslims, in Mr Haqqani’s case it was solely related to naked self-advancement. Comparing him to Mr. Jinnah is like comparing an indicted modern-day US congressman with someone like US founding father Thomas Jefferson - sure, they were both involved in politics but that is where all comparisons end!

And yes as far corrupt as ‘lifafa’ journalism is concerned, I can produce respected and highly regarded Pakistani journalists who have actually witnessed Mr Haqqani handing over money filled envelopes to Lahore journalists.

Mr. Haqqani should clean about his past if he seeks genuine atonement. By writing a well researched book does not mean that we should all play along with his nth reinvention of himself. We know that many Pakistani generals - having done everything they could to destroy democracy when in power - turned democrats on retirement, knowing that it is one way of finding post-retirement employment under elected governments.

Many in Pakistan believe that Mr Haqqani's scholarly indulgences in the US are also an exercise very similar in nature to what retiring generals do. Perhaps Pakistan’s mighty civil and military establishment had become too small for Mr Haqqani's runaway ambition. That is why he is now in the US, looking for employment with THE

I wish him well, except that no matter how much I like his book, it will never be enough to wash away the bitter memories that most Pakistani democrats have of Mr Hussain Haqqani.

Honest desi said...

Onlooker obviously has "personal" knowledge of Mr. Haqqani that I do not. I only find that respected Pakistani journalists like Ghazi Salahuddin, in his review in Newsline, and Mr Khaled Ahmed in the Friday Times, have taken a more benign view of Mr Haqqani's past than Onlooker.

There are two things that my research indicates as factually incorrect in Onlooker's bitter remarks. First, Mr Haqqani's arrest preceded his short association with the Consulting firm that did business with some government organizations. According to records available on the interent Mr. Haqqani went to prison in May 1999. The company he was associated with received its first government-related business in 2001 and the contract was prematurely terminated in May 2002. (All these facts are available from existing posts and newspaper reports on the internet). Mr Haqqani resigned from that company soon thereafter.

So, Onlooker's assertion that "when he went to jail, it was over some fall out with his business associates who clearly had better connections than him" does not hold water.

Secondly, Mr Haqqani officially served as Benazir Bhutto's adviser and is even now known to have close ties with her. If Onlooker's claim about Mr Haqqani's role in trashing her is right, Ms Bhutto has either forgiven it or knows better. Ms Bhutto is on record as having told a Press Conference in 1993 that she had checked the allegations of Mr Haqqani's involvement in the ISI's dirty tricks campaign against her and found that the charges were wrong. She named the ISI as responsible for the campaign as well as for implicating Mr. Haqqani in it, to discredit him and render him unable to challenge them or reveal the agency's role in future.

My main point is that Onlooker appears to be someone individually angry with an admittedly controversial person. Considering that we do not know Onlooker's credentials, it is simply not fair for him to make downright nasty charges about Mr Haqqani just to vent anger he may have at a personal level against someone he seems to have known since the days of student politics.

Onlooker's problem with Mr Haqqani "climbing the opportunity ladder" is not my problem. I am happy that Mr. Haqqani has written a good book on Pakistan and I have read his writings going back to 1996 (in The Friday Times) and all of them make eminent sense. That he has a past is not suprising to me but I find his intellectual output of the last ten years good enough to respect him.

If Mr Haqqani is in his late forties or early fifties, as he seems, his days in student politics were probably 25 years ago. I for one would not waste my anger on what he did or did not do then. As a Pakistani myself, I know how people hold grudges and how sometimes these grudges reflect their personal prejudices more than any intellectual reasoning.

I would be more impressed with Onlooker if he marshalled facts like Mr Haqqani and wrote an equally impressive book. I am sure there are individuals far worthier of Onlooker's ire than Mr Haqqani as Pakistan has more than its fair share of charlatans, conspirators and frauds.

Of course, if Onlooker was a college contemporary of Mr Haqqani I fully understand his need for pulling down the class fellow that was "less principled" but turned out to be "more successful."

Honest Desi said...

Pursuant to our debate about Mr. Haqqani, I would like to share with the readers of this blog the following piece from The Friday Times, September 23-29 2005. Mr Khaled Ahmed also appears to know Mr. Haqqani well but his conclusions, and even his narrative of Mr. Haqqani's past, is quite different from Onlooker's:

Haqqani’s testament to personal ‘transformation’

Khaled Ahmed's Analysis

A number of personalities known to Pakistani politics have undergone transformation as the dreaded jihad-dominated decade of the 1990s unfolded in Pakistan. Husain Haqqani is one of them. He began to change and move away from the state-supported, nationalism-linked, worldview some time during the years when Pakistan’s establishment was marching blithely to the end of its fatal romance with jihad. In the years when he was not linked to one political party or the other, dragging the steel ball of state ideology around its ankle, he reached down to his long kept-on-hold intellect - with good results, it appears. A process of transformation began which may be his last ‘adjustment’ to the changing circumstance. Even as a ‘fixer’ for politicians, he was set apart by his mind. If in the end he said goodbye to the job of a hired PR handyman, it was because of his mind. Finally, his transformation may be based on intellect, not opportunity. However, if opportunity beckons again within the parameters of the intellectual commitment manifested in his book, he would be a curmudgeon not to take it by the forelock.

Haqqani’s book Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military (Carnegie Endowment/Vanguard Books, Lahore 2005) has pleasantly surprised his readers. He had begun his journalist’s career definitely on the side of ‘the mosque’ under the shadow of General Ziaul Haq and his informal condominium with Jamaat-e-Islami. (Haqqani writes about this.) He was a brilliant rightwing youth among a group discovered first by the army, then passed on to the Muslim League under Nawaz Sharif. The advantage he had over his fellow-fixer Mushahid Hussain was his more refined intellect and his attractive bilingualism. (It is endlessly tempting to make a comparative study of the constantly metamorphosing careers of the two Hussains, Mushahid and Haqqani.) Where he eclipsed late Siraj Munir was Munir’s insufficient grasp of English even though he beat Haqqani in Urdu. Shafqat Mehmood, another attractively ‘transformed’ intellectual of our times, was never in the running as a ‘fixer’ for the political elite, but he was found to be promising. Haqqani was the fixer for caretaker Jatoi, was then loaned out to Nawaz Sharif, while Benazir Bhutto eyed him greedily with outspoken recognition of his brilliance. Serving Bhutto, he hit big times and probably doesn’t need to slog for Pakistan’s intellectually flatfooted rulers any more. But who knows?

Mosque versus India: The substance we have in the book after the lucky ‘personal sloughing’ of Husain Haqqani is not bad at all. Even though a backward look might persuade you to think that he was ‘putting it on’ when doing PR for dishonourable causes, you cannot deny the quality of the peeling off Haqqani has achieved. The biggest milestone of his metamorphosis is his new understanding of ideology and the way it has applied to Pakistan, coupling a national brainwash against India with religion that clearly helped those who wanted to delay the democratic process pledged by the founders of the state and the constitutions it periodically framed. The ideology took Pakistan away from democracy and human rights, but it also took the state to its endgame by producing a kind of irredentism out of it named deceptively and deniably: jihad. But Haqqani doesn’t ignore the interstices of his argument: he tells us how Jinnah used Islam to tame the Muslim-majority provinces allergic to his Muslim League while the clerics were mostly allied with the Hindu-dominated secular Congress.

Jinnah’s successors leaned on anti-Indianism in their quest for legitimacy: the new nationhood itself was predicated on the threat Pakistan was supposed to feel from India. Problems of unity took the rulers to the facile instrumentality of Islam. The state learned its use to keep the nation together as it went around shaping minds against India: Islam became the central tenet in the rule book of the military establishment, civilian bureaucracy and the intelligence community. It was used not only against India, but also to link up with the Islamic world as a device of the nation’s identity-formation. In the process, shady Islamic organisations like the Ikhwan were courted, allowing the local religious oppositionists to link up with them and become more muscular inside Pakistan. Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was not a religious man but he swallowed the reductionist wisdom that Pakistan could be held together only with Islam and a state that promised a legally Islamic state.

Mosque wins over mind: Jamaat-e-Islami, because it had not sided with the Congress, became a kind of unspoken arbiter of the Islamic state in Pakistan even though its founder Maududi had abused Jinnah. Maududi had contacts with Muslim League’s secretariat in New Delhi through Zafar Ahmad Ansari; in Punjab there were Muslim League politicians like Mamdot who leaned to the Islamic-totalitarian thought of Maududi. In Karachi the administrative secretary general, and later prime minister and writer of Pakistan’s first constitution, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, was more convinced of Maududi’s vision than Jinnah’s and let Maududi come on the radio to explain the nature of the Islamic state. (Maududi was everybody’s philosopher of the state despite much lip-service paid to Iqbal: when in 1975 the PPP government issued its Rights of the Woman charter it quoted within its text almost the entire content of Maududi’s book Huquq al-Zaujain – KA.)

Haqqani quotes from Margaret Bourke-White (p.30-31), a Life magazine reporter-photographer, who heard Jinnah saying in 1947 that America would need Pakistan as it was strategically placed as ‘the pivot of the world’. He told her that ‘Russia is not far away’ as he elaborated on his rather well-understood exposition on the nature of the Cold War then in its infancy. Bourke-White wondered why Jinnah liked to define Pakistan as ‘an armoured buffer between opposing major powers’. Talking to others in Karachi, she soon came to the conclusion that Pakistan suffered from a ‘bankruptcy of ideas’ and was ready to adopt the strategy of ‘profiting from the disputes of the others’. One can accept one part of the strategy: realpolitik justified the policy of ‘profiting from the disputes of others’; but a bankruptcy of ideas was unforgivable because, after the ‘disputes’ of the Cold War ended, Pakistan was found living on its brainless pavlovian reflexes.

Mosque and the Generals: In 1953, General Ayub as commander-in-chief of the army emerged as the physical manifestation of Pakistan’s early formulations of ideology. His supremacy in the Pakistani hierarchy was so complete that he visited the US ahead of the political leadership to offer America a Cold War deal: Pakistan as the West’s eastern anchor in an Asia Alliance structure. Haqqani quotes Shirin Tahir-Kheli to show how Ayub bargained hard for a ‘price’ as he refused to give America a full-fledged military base. And the price included not only money but also a security guarantee against India. After 1979, General Zia too drove a hard bargain for Pakistan’s use against the Soviet Union. Haqqani in fact theorises on the basis of this pattern of behaviour (later confirmed by General Musharraf) to conclude that the state in Pakistan has behaved consistently without really changing after promising to change.

Yet there was a difference between what General Zia sought inside Pakistan and what General Musharraf seeks now. Haqqani says the umbilical joining all courtiers of the US was hatred of India, perhaps including Musharraf, who should then stand with first president of Pakistan Iskander Mirza and second president Ayub Khan in his fear and loathing of religion. Later in the book Haqqani dwells on the theme of Musharraf’s ‘ambivalence’ about switching off the Kashmir proxy war, sheltering religious militias against a global wrath only because of the India-centric worldview he shares with the earlier ‘secular’ military rulers of Pakistan. He also tackles the immensely tortured conundrum of Musharraf surreptitiously propping up the religious parties against the mainstream political parties in the 2002 general election. Such is the slippery nature of the evidence available for proving this, that the mainstream parties now in the ARD have finally (disgustedly) accepted aligning their anti-Musharraf strategy with thatof the MMA (religious parties) said to have been ‘facilitated’ by Musharraf.

Goodbye to Mosque? The book carries adequate material to prove that Pakistani nationalism was shaped in an anti-India mould to favour the military during the early years and during interregnums when the political parties ruled Pakistan under the tutelage of the military. By the time the politicians realised that nationalism was actually helping the military to remain on top they had also become alive to the already formed public mind that would not accept any alteration in nationalism without a trauma. The truth is that the supremacy of the military in Pakistan cannot be removed without changing Pakistan’s textbook nationalism. On the one hand, the PML may have covered the distance from ‘compulsion to embrace ideology’ to ‘actual internalisation of it’; on the other, the PPP may not have done so, but may find it difficult to wean its following from it without losing votes. The truth is that it is Pakistani nationalism which has first to be modified if the military is to be pushed down in the hierarchy of power in the country.

Husain Haqqani has written a good book and has given final proof in it of his capacity that no ruler was interested in utilising. He always had the mental suppleness required in politics. He would communicate with the powerful mullahs of the Zia era and speak Urdu matching theirs. He would hold his own in English in public speaking, shifting competently from an Islamic to a secular-pluralist view. At times he was pushed too far. For instance, he was made to confront the CNN, together with Mushahid Hussain, to prove that the TV channel was biased against the Muslims. This was one battle of wits he did not win as clearly as he did most others. Now his book nails his definitive colours to the mast. This has to be the final transformation. We suppose that what he did in his Zia-Jatoi-Nawaz-Benazir days represented a light hidden behind the bushel, a natural intellectual progression held in abeyance till the times got better.

(First of a three-part review article on Husain Haqqani’s book ‘Pakistan between Mosque and Military’.)

Onlooker said...

Dear Honest Desi

As a passionate democrat I hold out against anyone who betrayed the cause of democracy – particularly when holding a powerful post.

Overlooking the many generals who habitually loathe the very concept of democracy, in my list of betrayers I include Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif (once a contender for the post of Amir-ul-Momineen). And among the ‘many others’ that damaged the cause of democracy in Pakistan I would definitely include the name of Husain Haqqani.

Yes, he has written an extremely good book. And I praised the book in my blog while at the same time briefly reminding my readers that Haqqani ‘has a flawed reputation in Pakistan, not only for his notoriously self-advancing political flip-flops, but also for his grubby repute as the originating godfather of corrupt - lifafa – journalism’.

It only when you rose to vociferously defend him did I feel it necessary to provide a more detailed reply.

Truth be told I have never met Husain Haqqani let alone gone to school or worked with him. I have no personal grievance against him other than the fact that he behaved abysmally when in power.

Undoubtedly Husain Haqqani is an extremely talented and intelligent man, I just wished he had used his skills to uphold democracy rather than to try and destroy free press and actively assist the forces of subterfuge and coercion. And yes, Benazir Bhutto did choose to forgive him for his past attacks on her and that was for purely pragmatic reasons - she was aware of Haqqani’s unquestionable talents as a ‘media advisor’.

Just by the by, with your detailed knowledge of Mr Haqqani’s activities (like quoting 1993 press conferences), were you aware that he tried very hard to ingratiate himself with the army rulers after October 1999. It was only after his efforts were rebuffed did he turn against them. (I wish that he had begun his criticism right at the onset of Musharraf’s coup and not years later).

One can’t hold personal dislikes against a man one has never met. If only Mr Haqqani came clean about his past and offerred some sort of contrition, democrats would happily forgive and forget his past. Sadly, we are all too aware that those out of power often become ardent democrats until back in office.

At some future date Husain Haqqani will surely be back in Pakistan holding some influential office – for that is the way things work in Pakistan. And only then we will know how much he has truly changed.

Honest desi said...

Just like Onlooker, I too know Mr Haqqani only from television and his writings. I found a reference to the 1993 Benazir bhutto Press conference on the internet. A google search would reveal thousands of references to Mr Haqqani with both spellings, Husain and Hussain.

It is interesting that the three major postings against him are the ones by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba/Jamat-ud-Dawa and Onlooker's blog.

My vociferous defense of Mr Haqqani stems from my view that Pakistanis spend far more time trashing other civilians than criticizing their generals. Yes, you must criticize civilians you feel let you down. But there must be a sense of proportion. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ruled Pakistan for 5 years and eventually went to the gallows. There is more stuff out there criticizing him than there is about the 11 years of Ayub Khan. Material on Yahya Khan is virtually non-existent, except passing references to his debauchery. Does that not strike you as odd?

Also, there is a culture of rumor, suspicion and "I know it personally."For example, a search of the Wall Street Journal archives will show that Mr. Haqqani criticized the military takeover in 1999 in print three days after it took place. His columns in 'The Friday Times' and later in other papers were also consistent about the need for return to constitutional rule. I also read that when General Musharraf visited the US once he threatened Mr Haqqani and claimed that the latter had turned against him because Musharraf did not reward him adequately with a ministership. That is the rumor Onlooker is accepting as fact, obviously out of his anger with Mr. Haqqani. But, given that Musharraf has offered senior positions to all kinds of rogues, it stands to reason that he should have had no qaulms about accomodating Mr. Haqqani. And if Mr Haqqani is the unreconstructed opportunist that Onlooker suggests he is, he should have gladly accepted.

To me this is not about Mr. Haqqani. It is about the way we deal with flaws of leaders and intellectuals who might be able to make a positive contribution to the struggle for democracy in Pakistan.

This blog has had, by last count, around 3000-odd hits, including several by me. (I like this blog). Mr. Haqqani's articles in the mainstream international media are read by millions. His book has sold thousands of copies. He is an asset for the democratic cause in Pakistan that must not be discredited, notwithstanding the merits of Onlooker's grievances against his conduct over a decade ago.

Also, why is it possible for Benazir Bhutto, Khaled Ahmed and Ghazi Salahuddin to consider Mr. Haqqani's efforts of the last decade as sufficient for his redemption but not for Onlooker? I think the best acts of contrition are working towards undoing any harm you may have caused. Although I am not convinced Mr. Haqqani caused the level of harm Onlooker claims, I still feel his positives have cleared the account.

I am saddened by the fact that Onlooker does not realize this. Other than that I admire Onlooker as much as I admire Mr. Haqqani's work.

Incidentally, I suggest Onlooker read the criticisms of Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah and Thomas Jefferson by his contemporaries. Each of the Quaid-e-Azam's political shifts was seen by his critics as opportunistic and Jefferson's personality flaws were debated ad nauseum. Of course, I am not comparing Mr Haqqani to these great historic figures. Just making the point that sometimes contemporaries can get carried away with viewing someone's flip-flops and flaws because they cannot go past one stage of the other's life.

At the risk of sounding cliched, it is time to praise and appreciate Mr Haqqani's book and other cuurrent work, not to condemn him.

Onlooker said...

All I can say is that Husain Haqqani’s recent conversion to upholding the ideals of democracy can only be properly judged once he is back in some powerful office in Pakistan.

Too many Pakistani leaders – leading recent examples being Benazir Bhutto (1990-93) and Nawaz Sharif (1993-97) – confessed to the error of their earlier terms in office and promised to do better the next time, only to forget their commitments the moment they were back in power.

Sadly, there is something to be said about our Pakistani political culture. It appears to be a modern continuation of the Mughal ‘durbari’ system.The kursi or throne remains at the apex and underneath it is surrounded on all sides by a bunch of salivating sycophants - integrity and sagacity end up being early victims.

Coming back to Mr. Haqqani, I wish him well in his endeavours. Personally I don’t accept your view that ‘Mr. Haqqani's efforts of the last decade as sufficient for his redemption’, even if Benazir Bhutto, Khaled Ahmed and Ghazi Salahuddin think otherwise.

I’ll tell you why.

In a mature democracy, as we all know, there is the executive, the parliament and the judiciary – all keeping a check on each other on behalf of the citizenery. And keeping a check on all three of them is the Fourth Estate – the Press.

In Pakistan there has never been a real check on the executive. In reality even prime ministers such as Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were for all intents and purposes civilian dictators answerable to no one – for them parliaments were to be trampled upon and the judiciary throttled. Apart from the ever lurking presence of the boys in Khaki, the only people keeping a check on them was the Press.

In the 1960s Altaf Gauhar did his best to destroy the spark of freedom that resided in the Press. He was followed by the likes of Maulana Kausar Niazi, Nasim Ahmed and General Mujibur Rahman. Our ’heroic’ ZA Bhutto also loathed the concept of free press and beatings and jailing were often the order of his day. Zia, that wretched hypocrite, was no different nor worse, he just smiled more.

And then we come to Mr. Husain Haqqani.

‘Honest Desi’ whatever you may think of Haqqani, he played an appalling role in trying to finish off the precious little press integrity that still remained by raising the notorious ‘lifafa’ journalism to new heights.

It was during this period we saw the rise of greed based journalism in Pakistan. There is no need to name the names of newspapers or the players, I’m sure Mr. Haqqani is familiar with the name of each and every one of them.

Yes, he has written a very fine book and his regular columns in newspapers appeal to liberals like me. But to eradicate the damage to the Press that has occurred, I believe he will have to do much more in atonement.

Finally, I am not and have been a journalist. As a basic foot soldier upholding the cause of democracy I’ve decided to commence my blog some months ago.

I am not seeking any recognition as the blog remains anonymous. The anonymity gives me the freedom to express myself freely, but hopefully with a degree of responsibility. And so I will reiterate once again: my criticism of Husain Haqqani is not personal in nature and I have never met the man nor has he ever harmed me in any way. In fact I am glad he has seen the light of liberal democracy and sincerely hope it stays that way.

Wishing You Well,


Onlooker said...

Correction to the previous comment:

Penultimate para should read:

Finally, I am not and have never been a journalist. As a basic foot soldier upholding the cause of democracy I decided to commence writing a blog a few months ago.

Honest Desi said...

Without wanting to prolong this discussion, may I point out that many of the points in my earlier posts remain unanswered.

What if your main grievance against Mr Haqqani, that he somehow corrupted the Press, is wrong --the product of the ISI using him as a scapegoat for its own devious actions?

How do you hope to struggle for democracy by trashing its advocates, even if they are indeed flawed?

Isn't sanctimoniousness -- "I'm just a foot soldier but I know I'm good while all the rest stink" --among the greatest enemies of a broad-based political struggle?

While wishing Mr Haqqani well you still did not acknowledge certain incorrect statements about him in your posts, like the one about his arrest being linked to business disputes.

My only suggestion to you is to be a little sceptical of being too judgemental. The only reason I have taken so much time to engage in this debate is that your personal comments on Mr Haqqani undermine your praise of his book. How can people trust, in your words, "a good book" if it is written by a bad man?

Yes, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and many other civilians are flawed. But equally flawed is the Pakistani middle class intelligentsia that simply refuses to understand the dynamic of politics and sits on a high horse, condemning everyone who does particpate in our political process, which is totally dominated by the Khakis.

May I also submit that there is something fundamentally illogical in your anger against someone you believe to have corrupted the press unless it is matched by equal anger against the corrupt press wallahs. Beginning with the Ayub Khan era, Pakistan's media barons and individual journalists started accepting favors from the government. The intelligence agencies have probably been manipualting the media far more than anyone officially designated to deal with the press. From Altaf Gauhar onwards, every media manager has been the target of a lot of abuse but that is probably how the corrupt journalists and their secret patrons play down their own role.

I doubt if Onlooker and I will end up agreeing at this moment. I also know he has the final word but it just seemed important to me to defend ther author of a book even Onlooker admits is very good.

Onlooker said...

Honest Desi
From your series of posts I can percieve I have annoyed you. In the last one you have accused me of:
- Being ‘sanctimoniousness’
- ‘Trashing’ advocates of democracy
- Being ‘fundamentally illogical in [my] anger’

Fair enough, it is your right to criticise and I accept it as such.

If you recall it all began when you took umbrage at blog saying ‘Husain Haqqani has a flawed reputation in Pakistan, not only for his notoriously self-advancing political flip-flops, but also for his grubby repute as the originating godfather of corrupt - lifafa - journalism.’

I wrote that brief comment over a month ago and, in all honesty, your irritation and repeated posts have managed to intrigue me. Normally I don’t pry but on this occasion I did want to learn more about ‘Honest Desi’ and where he was coming from.

With the help of the statistical software embedded in the blog I was able to track your postings to the Boston University ISP in Massachusetts, USA.

Then a brief Google search revealed that Professor/Ambassador Husain Haqqani is currently working at the Department of International Relations at Boston University.

One and one doesn’t always make two but the passion of your recent and repeated posts leads me to logically conclude that ‘Honest Desi’ is none other than Mr Husain Haqqani himself.

So ‘Honest Desi’ or should I say Haqqani sahib,

My apologies if I have offended you. My comments were made in good faith and nothing personal was intended.

I accept that politics in Pakistan is largely a sewer and no place for idealistic ‘boy scouts’.

Having said that and having read your recent writings I hope that on your return to Pakistan you will do your utmost to rebuild democratic institutions and importantly that you will support journalists with integrity and reinstate sanctity of free press in our country.

I wish you well in all your future endeavours.



Honest Desi said...

You are right in tracing my posts to Boston University but wrong in your assumption that I am Professor Haqqani.

I have, however, taken some courses with
him and like the man and his work.

Husain Haqqani said...

A student of mine has drawn my attention to this blog and the discussion about me.

I normally have little time to read all the blogs but this discussion has been interesting. I acknowledge Onlooker's comments and criticism and appreciate Honest Desi's vigorous defense on my behalf. Onlooker is right in pointing out the flawed culture of power in Pakistan and I am confident that, from my quiet academic life, I will not disappoint him by being part of that culture on its existing terms.

It is not practice, however, to defend myself anonymously or pseudonomously. Whenever I write something, I write and publish under my own name. Hence, Onlooker is incorrect in thinking that I have been writing in my defense as Honest Desi. I believe it is an ex-student who should have acknowledged that connection upfront.

Dear Onlooker Sahib: May I suggest that you use your tracking software to note that Honest Desi and I have different ISPs. For example, I am right now in Chicago at a conference and I note that Honest Desi has posted a comment this morning, presumably from Boston. While I understand your reasons for not being too trusting, it would be good if you do not add the "sin" of psesudonomous postings to the catalogue of my real of perceived flaws.

May I add that I am not offended at all by your views, which you articulate so well. Having been in public life in Pakistan, I am used to much more.

With kind regards,
Husain Haqqani

Shahzada Sher Saddozai said...

The Islamie political parties seem to be more and more involved in Radicalism as more and more the regimes keep depending on them ? JI has now probably become only hope less than Allah's to the most unecthical union in political history Benazir and Nawaz posing together and uniting thier party members. But majority Provincial and District leaders shifted away from both to Shujaat to maintain sanity in newestly born Country Politics .....Haqqani served both ? I never worked so far into Newspaers to know him! and some how in the time i wasnt following Asif or that US Ambassador lady ..But most recently again US Carniegi Endowment must have pushed this kind of 'poor information' to carry on the defamation the Harvard Govt created /creates through 1973 Pakistani Constitution which announced Pakistan and ISLAMIC REPUBLIC.... Everyone knows our Islamie partys are not well read to read International Conspiracy's .

Shahzada Sher Saddozai said...

The Islamie political parties seem to be more and more involved in Radicalism as more and more the regimes keep depending on them ? JI has now probably become only hope less than Allah's to the most unecthical union in political history Benazir and Nawaz posing together and uniting thier party members. But majority Provincial and District leaders shifted away from both to Shujaat to maintain sanity in newestly born Country Politics .....Haqqani served both ? I never worked so far into Newspaers to know him! and some how in the time i wasnt following Asif or that US Ambassador lady ..But most recently again US Carniegi Endowment must have pushed this kind of 'poor information' to carry on the defamation the Harvard Govt created /creates through 1973 Pakistani Constitution which announced Pakistan and ISLAMIC REPUBLIC.... Everyone knows our Islamie partys are not well read to read International Conspiracy's .

Zakintosh said...

I am thrilled to have stumbled upon The Glasshouse. This quality of writing is rarely found in blogs.

What a delight to read this particular 'debate', and to have the HellHound, himself, join in the foray. HH's ability to debate and command over English as well as Urdu is legend. If only his grasp of the Principles of Honesty were as strong ...

Keep it up, Onlooker!

Shahzada Sher Saddozai said...







Shahzada Sher Saddozai said...

So exalted be Allah, the True King; no god is there but He, the Lord of the honorable dominion.
[23.117] And whoever invokes with Allah another god-- he has no proof of this-- his reckoning is only with his Lord; surely the unbelievers shall not be successful.
[23.118] And say: O my Lord! forgive and have mercy, and Thou art the best of the Merciful ones.

Karachiwala said...

I am fellow Pakistani from Haqqani's hometown of Karachi and I agree with views of Onlooker on Haqqani. Has Onlooker seen article written in January issue of Pakistani link which gives details of what Haqqani has done....An 'agencies' man now he has turned against the 'hand that fed him'....It is our duty to expose such people...

honest desi said...

First of all Karachiwala must tell us who Mr G. Mujtaba is who wrote the Pakistani link article on Mr Haqqani. I could not find anything about his background or reputation on the internet. He is not affiliated to any newspaper/journal and so why should he be taken as an authentic source on Mr Haqqani.

Secondly, this is a discussion on the book written by Mr Haqqani and so it is unfair to start throwing aspersions on his character, when they cannot be substantiated.

Lastly, if Karachiwala had made the effort to read my earlier comments he would have seen how wrong his views are on Mr Haqqani's political career.

Karachiwala said...

I dont know why Honest Desi is so defending someone who has hurt my beloved country and was reason why we dont have democracy there....Haqqani is known to everyone in Pakistan as a "hired handyman" -- an agencies man.

He is said to have a fickle personality. Who knows if this form is his last form and he would not take another step to allign with the pillars of power due to the people whom he served just out of hunger for power. I dont know whether he is retreating from his past or just trying to pay a price for being in USA.

Now, Honest Desi tell me how will you defend your friend.....

Honest Desi said...

Dear Karachiwala,

I think that a man should be judged by his performance, not by comments of someone whose name is also not known to anyone. The real people who harmed democracy in Pakistan were named General Ayub Khan, General Yahya Khan,
General Ziaul Haq, and General Pervez Musharraf. If Karachiwala wants, he can add the name of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Altaf Hussain and
Nawaz Sharif.

According to my knowledge, Prof. Haqqani was never the President or Prime Minister of Pakistan or Chief Martial Law Administrator or more powerful than those people. Maybe Karachiwala has some "secret" information about
that also. Even if Haqqani was "agencies man" (whatever that means) then how could a functionary cause more harm than the top rulers?

To claim that someone in a less position in government ten-twelve years ago harmed democracy more than the big guys shows the absurdity of Karachiwala's
position. It shows the pettiness of Karachiwala.

As I have said many times, I defend Prof. Haqqani because some nameless people should not have the right to discredit solid academic work with innuendo and allegations.

I suggest that instead of wasting all his time on posting comments on this blog, Karachiwala also write a good book about Pakistan like Mr. Haqqani. In that book Karachiwala can try and prove that Haqqani harmed democracy more
than all of Pakistan's dictators and politicians.

Then Karachiwala will become Haqqani's equal and his angry remarks delivered in bad English will be taken more seriously. Otherwise, the internet is full of nuts, including some who think the earth is flat and that aliens are about to take over the

Karachiwala said...

I feel insulted by Honest Desi for saying that my English is bad - very sorry everyone has not studied in as elite schools as Honest Desi must have....Honest Desi must be academic to expect so much from others....blogging sites have been set up for even those people who are not good in English to still talk to others...not set up only for elites to talk to their friends...

Whatever Honest Desi say in Haqqani's favour I stand on my beliefs and views. What do you mean that if book is well-written one should not say anything against person. Why not - if I think man is controversial I will say so - so that everyone know who is the real man behind the book....and I will tell everyone I know and meet what I know about him....

I know things that even you, poor Honest Desi who defend him so well, do not dont make me say something which you will feel bad about later...

Karachiwala said...

To let people know that what I say about Haqqani is what Pakistani 'intelligentsia' also believe --- here is article by the Great Ardeshir Cowasjee in Dawn

Spin doctors
Ardeshir Cowasjee

A SPIN doctor, in the language of the lexicon: "A senior political
spokesperson employed to promote a favourable interpretation of events" to the press and to the people. He is a politician's flak. Not an easy job, as he has to be endowed with a highly retentive memory and the capacity to lie
consistently and unashamedly whilst keeping a straight face.

In the foreground during the past decade have been our two spinners,
Mushahid Hussain and Hussain Haqqani. In the beginning, Mushahid was ostensibly batting for the opponents as the editor of The Muslim whilst Hussain was spinning in the Zia-Nawaz team.

Hussain Haqqani was born in Karachi on October 1, 1956. He did his Masters in international relations from Karachi University, obtaining a first-class
first in 1980. He was the elected president of the students' union and one of his contemporaries at KU was Altaf Bhai now of London town. From 1980 to 1984 he was based in Hong Kong as a correspondent for the Far Eastern
Economic Review and Arabia - The Islamic World Review, and later returned to Pakistan doing the same job.

In 1988, he became Punjab Chief Minister Nawaz Sharif's spin doctor, with the rank of a provincial minister, a flag-flyer, spinning against Benazir
and her government. In 1989 he was sent to Karachi to negotiate with Altaf Bhai on behalf of Nawaz Sharif who was getting ready to move to Islamabad. When Jatoi became caretaker PM, Hussain Haqqani was appointed his press
adviser and when Nawaz Sharif took over, he went to him in the same
position. In 1992, when Nawaz Sharif decided to get rid of him (for whatever reasons) rather than sacking him, he prudently appointed him our high commissioner to Sri Lanka, from which post he resigned when Nawaz
Sharif's government was dismissed.

Benazir Bhutto, on taking over in 1993, realized that Hussain's services might help her on her way and took him on as her press adviser. In July 1994 she made him information secretary, in which post he remained until
June 1995, when Benazir Bhutto decided that it was time for him to go. Prudence again was exercised, and he was 'expelled' to Karachi to head the
HBFC. Again, when Benazir Bhutto was sacked for the second time, he resigned.

Shrewd and clever as he is, Haqqani knows what the three young self-serving leaders (now monopolizing the political scene in this unfortunate country)
do not know. He has taught himself much, continues to teach himself, has read more than the three have, continues to read, and is amusing company.

Is this genuine? I asked him the last time he came calling, handing him a photocopy of a page with a remark scrawled upon it by Benazir Bhutto. In February 1995, Haqqani managed to get CNN Delhi correspondent Ashish Ray to
agree to interview his prime minister and show her on the screen prior to her US visit, and had accordingly addressed a note on the subject to her.

Benazir Bhutto's reaction: "The last time H.H. asked me to give Ashish Ray an interview it was a disaster. He was an Indian and kept asking/provoking and gave a v. nasty report. Ask for all questions on record and
arrange to switch off the electricity plug if they ask any beyond the approved questions - or any other remedial method. I don't want to repeat past experience so the interview should be sorted out properly."

Hussain Haqqani looked at it, and put on his spin doctor smile which
indicated the affirmative. With sadness, he said that neither Nawaz Sharif nor Benazir Bhutto are ever receptive to advice.

Was it worth doing what you did, all the bowing and scraping, I asked him, showing him a copy of another letter, this time from the PM's principal secretary, Ahmed Sadik, to federal secretary Haqqani: "It has been observed
that you were not in office between 09.00 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. today when the Prime Minister had wanted to talk to you. The office hours being 09.00 a.m. to 05.00 p.m. you may like to explain the reasons for your absence
from office for a whole hour and that too without having indicated your whereabouts. You are also advised to ensure your availability in office in future and avoid recurrence of such a situation."

There are times in one's life, he replied, when one has to suffer fools gladly, as you must have done on many an occasion.

I then produced a copy of a note dated January 26, 1994, from the
information ministry's file advising that a sum of Rs 5 million had been "paid to the Frontier Post as per instructions given by Mr Asif Ali Zardari
in the presence of PIO and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister." This amount came from the Special Service Expenses Account. From the same account, nine payments between February and December 1994 of varying
amounts totalling Rs 4.9 million were made to Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain of the publications Facts and Siasi Log of Lahore.

How does one justify this disbursement of Rs 10 million of public funds to publications for their support for the party in power? I asked Haqqani. It is just a matter of following instructions, he told me. Such payments have been made since the days of Ayub Khan and Altaf Gauhar. Obviously, in Haqqani's book many wrongs make a right. But he rightly countered, if
people do not object to the way their money is squandered why should the callous all-powerful bother?

Honest Desi said...

Dear Karachiwala,

Nothing in the Cowasjee article compromises Haqqani's integrity. The article is a commentary on Pakistan's political system, about which Cowasjee's critical views are well known. If Cowasjee had accused Haqqani of pocketing
public money (as Cowasjee has accused many people of, with substance) then that would have been a different matter.

To the extent Haqqani was a spin
master for civilian governments, he did a job that even in western countries is not a popular one. No one in America, however, becomes obsessed about Scott Mclellan (spokesman for President Bush) but rather holds Bush accountable.

In recent articles, Cowasjee has shown a soft spot for Haqqani. By citing a ten-year old article, Karachiwala is simply showing his personal anger and venom.

Incidentally, just as Karachiwala was not privileged to attend elite schools neither was Haqqani but that did not stop Haqqani from improving his skills and scholarship. I did not mean to insult Karachiwala for his poor English. My purpose is just to guide him away from his personal anger against a Pakistani intellectual who has, over the last ten years, proven his
credentials and to suggest that Karachiwala channel his energies into self-improvement and intellectual growth.

The way Karachiwala seems to have made trashing Haqqani his cause indicates that he has no worthier cause. Is it not unfortunate that instead of writing his own book, or building his own reputation and career, Karachiwala spends so much energy on attacking someone who has written a book and established
his name?

Karachiwala said...

I have news for everyone. Our friend Haqqani just went to India and Pakistan in December. As to be expected with his anti-Pakistani views he got praise in India and Indian media. I heard from friends that he also went to Pakistan to meet family.

His true colors come out - u know he not written any column for long time, at least I not seen it. Also he not written anything anti-military or our Prez - which means he scared of them. So we finally know the great Husain Haqqani is scared of the military - or is it that he is close to them ...... You can make your own assumptions, I know what the truth is ....

Nz said...


I am a fellow Pakistani and I have been avidly following this blog for a long time - just never had the time to post comments. I agree with many of Onlooker's comments and also with Karachiwala on Husain Haqqani. I believe that Honest Desi is fighting a losing battle if he/she wants us to 'forgive and forget' what Haqqani and others like him have done to our democracy.

We need true democrats to fight for Pakistan's democracy and to create a non-corrupt polity. We do not need former Jamiat cronies, who were tied to the military for a long part of their life, who were lifafa journalists and who later on in their life had a change and decided to advocate democracy - that too from the shores of another country.

Also I have read Haqqani's book and I dont think much of it. I think he blames the military too much where instead the people to blame are the corrupt politicians who took away so much of our money. The army at least is not corrupt and has only stepped in to save Pakistan. He is also too pro-India according to me and I guess that is the reason he was able to get a visa to go to India and talk over there.

Honest Desi said...

Dear Karachiwala and Nz,

For your information Husain Haqqani while he was in Pakistan gave a television interview on ARY TV in Pakistan, which was run twice, and said all the things he says and writes so Karachiwala is clearly wrong.

Just because Karachiwala did not write for many days on this blog to express his pathological dislike for Husain Haqqani does not mean Karachiwala is afraid of Husain Haqqani. Similarly just because Husain Haqqani did not write columns for a few weeks does not mean he is afraid of Karachiwala's "President." It is not unusual for columnists to take a few days or weeks vacation.

Also, in a day and age of internet it is stupid to think what Husain Haqqani spoke in India would not be known in Pakistan or vice

As for Nz is concerned, it does not matter what he/she thinks of Husain Haqqani's book. The book has been reviewed positively in dozens of international publications as well as Pakistani newspapers, including Dawn, The News, The Nation, Daily Times, Friday Times, Herald and Newsline. Nz is too arrongant to think his/her opinions are somehow more important than those of every expert and critic.

The way Nz accuses Husain Haqqani of being "too pro Indian" indicates that Nz is someone from
Pakistan's intelligence agencies because it is the practice of Pakistani intelligence agencies to attack everyone who threatens them as 'pro Indian.'

My advice to Karachiwala and Nz is still to produce something of value --like a book-- themselves instead of just being obsessed with Husain Haqqani.

Asad NYwala said...

Hi from another Pakistani who like all of you lives abroad too...I came across this blog while surfing for blogs on Pakistan and seeing this long discussion thought I also must contribute to it.

First of all I would like to point out that there is a long tradition of scholars and analysts writing or talking about their country/countries while being based abroad so I dont quite see Nz's objection to Haqqani doing the same. Even Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah while living in London during the 1920s-30s was still very much involved and concerned about the fate of the Indian Muslims.

Secondly, when calling Haqqani a 'Jamiat' crony I think Nz forgets that a large number of Pakistani politicians, including Farooq Leghari, Kausar Niazi and even Altaf Husain were former Jamiat members. Actually majority of MQM's leaders are all former Jamiatis.

Thirdly, I also dont see why Nz ties up Haqqani's getting an Indian visa to his being 'pro-Indian'. For the last year or so - ever since relations have started getting better and we have started having cricket matches and Track-II diplomacy in place - it has become much easier to get an Indian visa. A number of Pakistani officials, Cabinet Ministers and even leaders like Shujaat Husain, Altaf Husain and others have gone to India - I wonder if Nz would call them also 'pro-Indian'???

Lastly, I personally feel that too much time has been spent critiquing one individual and as Pakistanis who love their country maybe it is time we devoted our attention to other issues. Like the crisis in Baluchistan, the bombing by America, the need for reforms in the educational system, the status of the economy, etc.

Nz said...

I think Asad should stick to doing what he does best - and not to talk about issues which apparently he has no knowledge of. From his style of writing I dont think he has ever been to Pakistan and so I repeat that those who write about a country from outside shores should not talk /write unless they have first hand knowledge. I, on the other hand, have lived there all my life and I know what the problems are.

Secondly, comparing someone like Haqqani to the Quaid is again like comparing the 'sublime to the ridiculous' and is insulting to the Qaid's memory.

Thirdly, again I dont know if Haqqani's defenders Honest Desi or Asad have ever met the person. I have and I know him very well - actually I just met a couple of days ago. And based on my talk/s with him I think that both the book, his views and the person himself have been overrated and praised more than they deserve.

On the one hand he sounds like the typical Paki-basher when he criticizes Pakistan and finds faults in it. He also doesnt want to talk about the problems or insecurities that Pakistan inherited and how India contributed to all those problems. He wants us to change our way of looking at ourselves and the world.

On the other he sounds like the typical Indian-bashing Paki when he says that the roots of the problems are because of the military and of the identity crisis Pakistan is supposedly facing.

I dont believe in all this. I believe that Pakistan needs democracy but our politicians are too too corrupt, incapable of working together or working for the betterment of the country and so the military is the only true guardian of Pakistan.

Also I dont think that India' democracy is anything to learn from - look how corrupt their politicians are, how far behind their economy is compared to China and how many times their governments keep falling... Also despite their strong army they are always scared everytime Pakistan gets some aid from US.

So why dont all these so-called 'lovers of Pakistan, their home country' stop bashing up Pakistan and try to do write something positive.

Asad NYwala said...

What makes Nz think I have not lived in Pakistan or that I do not know Prof Haqqani personally? Also, I wonder if Nz had the moral courage to share his/her view with Prof Haqqani when he/she met him two days ago or whether Nz is a typical Pakistani who dislikes a person,
comments on him anonymously
behind his back and pretends to be good to him on his face.

Also, I did not compare Prof Haqqani to the Quaid-e-Azam. I merely cited the Quaid's (and
others') example to point out the absurdity of Nz's suggestion that Haqqani's opinions somehow became less worthwhile because he is currently living abroad.

If Prof Haqqani is over-rated by the dozens of critics and experts around the world, maybe Nz needs to ascertain his/her own rating by venturing in the public arena. After all, someone who declares that someone else is over-rated
should tell us what his/her own accomplishments are. Otherwise, I would be right in assuming that Nz is just somewhat arrogant and self-opinionated.

I think Nz is someone who has not been able to read/learn beyond the usual prejudices inculcated in all of us while studying in Pakistan and who subscribes to kneejerk patriotism that requires criticizing any national self

Nations in decline need skeptical minds to change their direction. China's current progress is the result of the contribution of Deng Xiaoping who for years was considered anti-China by Mao Zedong and his close associates.

Deng was put in prison by Mao and called a "revisionist" for advocating what China
subsequently embraced and what unleashed China's true potential as a nation.

There was a moment in China's life when it needed Mao but once the moment passed, Deng and his ideas were needed. I suggest Nz read about the struggle between Mao's and Deng's views and how Deng argues that Mao was a great man
but could not be the final word in China's march to progress.

A similar struggle of ideas is presently taking place in Pakistan. Some people are
clinging to the conventional view of what Pakistani patriotism means while others, like Prof Haqqani, are asking for a revision of that view.

Nz is welcome to stick to his/her views but cannot be given the right to question Prof Haqqani's qualifications or his patriotism.

No one, including Prof Haqqani, denies the insecurity and uncertainty faced by Pakistan at the time of its creation. Read chapter 1 of his book. All he says
is that Pakistan has passed that moment and in dealing with that situation has created a new set of problems for which he suggests a different remedy than those who simply continue to harp upon the origins.

Plus, a different take on
origins and wondering about Pakistan's identity issues is an integral part of any serious attempt to ascertain the future direction of the country.

The difference is that unlike Nz and others of his/her ilk, thinkers like Prof Haqqani have the capacity to go beyond the conventional Pakistani wisdom and
envisage a different Pakistan. That is not Pakistan bashing. It is analysis.

Just as Nz advises me, let me advise him/her. If you are in the US (which you must be to have met Prof Haqqani two days ago), make use of the opportunity to learn and question your prejudices and biases. Read widely, and with an open mind; not just to confirm your own prior opinions. Have the courage to think outside the box.

If you cannot, do whatever you have come to do and return to
the "Musharraf and the army will save Pakistan" world where you have come from, where controversy is heresy and fresh thinking or asking difficult questions is seen as Pakistan bashing.

Honest Desi said...

So let me get this straight. Thomas Freidman (of New York Times), Khaled Ahmed (of Friday Times), Ghazi Salahuddin (of Newsline), Alyssa Ayres (of Wall
Street Journal), Ali Dayan Hasan (of The Herald), Tariq Fatemi & Ardeshir Cowasjee (of Dawn), Robert Hathaway (of Arms Control Today) and many others have over-rated Prof. Haqqani and his book and only Nz has the correct
appraisal of him because he "knows him."

By that logic, Nz cannot assess anyone he doesn't know and we are all somehow supposed to believe in the superior wisdom (and Pakistani patriotism) of Nz. Give me a break!

Nz needs to learn to respect people whose views he disagrees with. If he met Prof Haqqani and expressed these views, I am sure Haqqani was respectful towards him otherwise Nz would have mentioned his rudeness along with all the
criticism he has heaped on Haqqani.

Also, Haqqani is not alone in his views. Many Pakistani writers are expressing similar opinions. Nz may not agree with these opinions but to suggest that only toeing the government line is positive expression of love for Pakistan
is, well to put it mildly, baloney.

Nz is not too knowledgeable. He gives the example of China but forgets that China is not controlled by a professional army created under colonial rule. It
is run by the Communist Party of China. Even the Chinese army is under the party.

In recent years, the Communist Party has loosened its grip and the army's priviliges have also been reduced. In any case, how is comparison with a country with a Communist system apply to one which has claimed always to be anti-Communist?

I agree with Asad NYwala that Nz and Karachiwala should write their own books and prove their own worth. Although I have contributed much to this debate, I think we have spent too much time debating the merits of one person.

In the end, Prof Haqqani's standing will not be determined by us four people arguing about him. It will be decided by what recognition he gets in the international community of academics and intellectuals.

I just read in a Pakistani newspaper that he is currently part of the international delegation observing the Palestinian parliamentary election, led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Nz said...

Looks like Haqqani has managed to get a really large 'fan following', even among Pakistanis- of former students and investment bankers - in around 4 years in US, something which he never managed in his failed 20 years as a wannabe politician, who hopped from one party to another trying to get a better deal everytime he jumped

Also looks like he has put his spin doctor skills to good use - a Jamiati-cum-military's own man has now turned against them - at least on paper. I - and many others I know both here and in Pakistan - are not sure whether his chameleon like reincarnation of his is permanent or just another of his flip-flop antics

Also has he really broken off from the Establishment, especially the military.... How did he manage to land the job in DC as soon as he came to US 3-4 years ago ... And this present job at Boston University .... Someone who doesnt have the requisite qualifications - except those of being a 'yes man' and a self-aggrandiser cannot get such good jobs without some help from the powers that be in Pakistan......whether Islamabad or Rawalpindi...or even Karachi...

What I would advise his fans is to see the real man and not to go for the fake facade they see outside....

AsadNYwala said...

Nz keeps on harping about how he/she knows the real man and nobody else does. Sorry for thinking that, but this seems personal --more like a jilted lover than someone who has intellectual objections to someone's ideas.

To suggest that Haqqani has no admirers in Pakistan is patently absurd in view of the rave reviews he and his book have received in Pakistani newspapers and magazines. Just this month Ghazi Salahuddin declared haqqani's book his "Pick of the Year" in Newsline magazine.

Haqqani was in Jamiat as a student some 30 years ago. There is no evidence that he had any ties to them after that. He worked with Nawaz Sharif from 1988 to 1992 and with Benazir Bhutto from 1993-1996. He has been consistent in his sympathy for democracy and BB since then. How is that flip-flopping?

Maybe the difference is between being obsessed about certain parts of a person's past (as Karachiwala and Nz seem to be) and being willing to hear what he has to say with an open mind.

Haqqani's ability to land good positions must have something to do with his talents, though that seems difficult for Nz to admit. If he is still tied to the Pakistani establishment, that should be a reason for Nz to like him as Nz is pro-establishment himself/herself.

Time to let go, Nz. We all know the arguments and we can all make up our minds. And this "I know 'the real man' and you only see 'the fake facade'" bit may work in personal arguments, it is not what works in intellectual

Honest Desi said...

Hmmmm....Nz has not answered any of the specific points raised by AsadNywala and myself. He/she even plagiarizes Onlooker's line about Husain Haqqani having acquired a fan club since coming to the U.S. instead of coming up with an original line.

If you care to read above, I have been consistent in arguing that I am not a fan or uncritical supporter of Husain Haqqani. My problem is with the Pakistani trend of trashing anyone and everyone who makes a name for himself.

Nz is now offering a conspiracy explanation for why Husain Haqqani has been so successful. As they say, conspiracy theories are the last refuge of the uninformed and the unitelligent.

Shahzada Sher Saddozai said...

Both in Pakistan and India The Press has been showing a most corrupt Intelligencia. Narsimaraos time he almost kicked cash at every Indian Newspaper and Publisher ofcourse after threats blackmailand hartals .Pakistanis have been no indifferent as Musharaffs Junta started their Rule Days after 75 Mils had been pocketted by Press[PPI] .

Shahzada Sher Saddozai said...

All the Time Haqqani and Types only climbled the ladder.

Nz said...

People often have inflated egos and opinions of themselves - Haqqani being no exception.

I attended a talk at Harvard today on 'Critical Relations between US and Pakistan' and very intelligent and informed Pakistan experts like Weinbaum and Robin Raphael. Also some very intelligent and well-known Pakistanis like Mushahid Husain and Nasim Zehra were present.

But Haqqani was not invited to speak - if he is the expert that Honest Desi and Asad claim him to be I wonder why he wasnt invited to talk/participate!!!

Was it because he was scared of showing his face in front of people who know his 'reality' and know him for what he really is? Or was it because he is just not as well-known as the rest of them and he has an inflated opinion of himself.

I still insist that I know him very well - better than Desi and Asad - because I am the only one who can see behind that 'smiling mask' which he wears as a facade!

Honest Desi said...

Dear Nz,
The conference at Harvard was titled 'The Critical Engagement: Pakistan and U.S. Relations'. It was organized by Nasim Zehra, who is currently a Fellow at the Asia Center.
All sessions of the conference had an American and a semi-official Pakistani participant, with the exception of Tariq Banuri (who commented on the fact that most Pakistani speakers at the conference were towing the official Pakistani line).

Prof. Haqqani attended the conference, too, and made a comment from the floor after the lunch break. (You obviously left early because your posting was made at 3.02 PM Eastern time. The conference ended at 5.50 PM.

Mushahid Hussain, Shahid Javed Burki, Hassan Abbas and Nasim Zehra, as well as American participants such as Robin Raphel and Marvin Weinbaum were very respectful to Prof. Haqqani and chatted with him on the side.

Not everyone needs to be invited to speak at every conference to be considered an expert.

If you know HH better than everyone why did you not walk up to him and tell him what you think of him?

Incidentally, I respect Mushahid Hussain even though he was Nawaz Sharif's Information Minister and alter ego and is now with Musharraf. But then I do not pretend to have a major problem with someone for being a flip flopper. What's your excuse?

Nz said...

Dear Honest Desi,

First of all, I think you are just making excuses for Haqqani as I think that if he really is as influential in policy circles and is such an expert as you make him out to be then he should have been more than just a 'participant' from the floor who made one comment.

Secondly, yes I know HH very well, we often talk and he has often tried to convince me to change my views. He has also tried to influence other Pakistanis who have come like me from Pakistan. You ask why I dont tell him my views to his face - well, there is a power equation there as I cant risk saying anything that would affect my grades. If that wasnt the case I would have said something long ago.

Lastly, I really respect and admire Mushahid Hussain and according to me leaving the 'corrupt and megalomaniac' Sharif for making a contribution to helping Pakistan move ahead - as is Gen Musharraf's aim - is not called flip-flopping. Jumping from Jamiat to PML, from Junejo to Sharif, from Sharif to Bhutto and finally when Bhutto did not pay off then going off to US and sitting from there and critiquing your own country -- that is flip-flopping. Moving from being a 'agencies ka aadmi', a military's man to being one of Sharif's and Bhutto's spin doctors and lifafa journalists and then from there to running away to the US and suddenly becoming an 'expert' on Pakistan and critiquing everyone -- that is called flip-flopping.

What I wonder Honest Desi is that if you are really so 'honest' how come you accept this flip-flopper, this person who claims to love Pakistan and yet does not support the good work being done by the establishment and the military?

Hope to hear what you have to say on this and what your excuse is...

Nz said...

Oh and by the way Honest Desi, the fact that all these Pakistani experts and American experts chatted with Haqqani doesnt raise him in my esteem - it might raise him in yours!!!

I respect people who stick to their views, no matter what happens, and despite and inspite of what Haqqani and others like you and Asad and Onlooker might say about our military rulers and bureaucratic-technical elite I believe it is to them that we owe whatever successes Pakistan has had and it is due to their hard work that we have been able to both stand up to India as well as have US as our ally.

Honest Desi said...


Oh! So you are honorable because you're worried about your grades and cannot criticize a Professor whom you do not respect to his face.

But Prof Haqqani is not honorable because he has a smile on his face when he meets you even though he probably reads these postings and knows you.

You are clearly confused, and
angry at your weakness and take it all out on the one man who is on the same campus as you. By the way, I am also at BU and have figured out who you are and guess what, you were not at the Harvard conference, as you claimed in the
post above.

As I have said repeatedly, to me this is not personal. Quite clearly it is to you.

Honest Desi said...

By the way, Mushahid Hussain remained with the "corrupt" (your words) Nawaz Sharif government until its last day.

Musharraf kept Mushahid Hussain
imprisoned for two years. Prominent among the people who demanded Mushahid's release was Prof. Haqqani, who also hosted Mushahid Hussain's first public appearance after release in Washington DC. (See Carnegie Endowment website for events of 2002).

Until October 2002, Mushahid Hussain criticized Musharraf in his articles. See the following as an example

The Musharraf policy that Mushahid Hussain criticized has not changed but Mushahid Hussain's stand has. So, does that not make Mushahid Hussain a flip flopper?

Or is it okay to flip flop in favor of the military-bureaucratic establishment but not against it?

Immediately after the October 2002 election, both Mushahid Hussain and Prof Haqqani participated in an event at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discussing the election result. (Learn to use google or some other search
engine and you will find a cached version of the video of that event, too).

Then, suddenly Mushahid Hussain became a Senator and PML (Kings Party) Secretary General. As I said earlier, I have no problem with that because for me Mushahid Hussain still remains a good intellectual and a thinking Pakistani.

I merely cite this to prove the inconsistency in Nz's attacks on Prof Haqqani.

My comment is that Nz clearly holds a personal grudge against Prof. Haqqani otherwise she would not praise Mushahid Hussain while condemning Prof Haqqani.

Also, if Prof Haqqani can campaign for Mushahid's release after the 1999 coup even though they were in different political camps, he is unlikely to inflict any harm on Nz by using a power equation to her detriment.

Nz should simply cut out the hypocrisy and tell Prof Haqqani to his face that she does not like him and does not wish to listen to his views. And stop claiming "I know him well" on the basis of her hypocritical interaction with him.

AsadNYWala said...

I don't think the two of you (Nz and Honest Desi) should use this blog for a personal argument.

It is fine to argue about ideas but you guys are making it personal to a very stupid degree.

More Honest Pakistani said...

How can an 'Honest Desi' defend such an 'unHonest' person like Husain Haqqani?

He was a really bad journalist, corrupt and in cahoots with the military establishment. He was also a very opportunistic person, staying on any boat only long enough to hop over to another one....

He also has no love for his country - instead of defending it against criticism by outsiders he actually sides with them. His latest OpEd again takes a pot-shot at the Govt.

It is very easy to criticize someone - very difficult to understand what the poor govt is undergoing....Does he realize that if it wasnt for the military, the country would have been absorped by India by now .....

He is also bad-mouthing not just the country but Muslims in every forum and every article he writes....Of course, what else can one expect from a pro-Israeli neo-con like him.

If Honest Desi is such an Honest person let us see if he responds to what I have written....

Honest Desi said...

All that has to be said has already been said.

Pakistan' military has a job for which it deserves respect. What everyone is criticizing is not for its primary job of defending the country but for its usurping functions that are not those of the military.

After it was under the military that Pakistan was divided. It was under the military that Pakistan turned jihadi. And it is again under the military that Pakistan is becoming the battleground for big powers.

Everyone is welcome to disagree with everyone else but they should do it with arguments and logic and not sweeping statements.

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Anonymous said...

"While we were on set making the film, we talked about the possibilities and directions of how a sequel can go.
The fun of this movie was that it might not have been the only movie being made that night, there might be another movie! In today’s day and age of people filming their lives on their iPhones and handy cams, uploading it to YouTube…That was kind of exciting thinking about that."

Anonymous said...

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We certainly shot a harder version than what is on the screen. We originally wanted it to be more bloody and disgusting."

Anonymous said...

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