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'The Kargil War was a tragedy, but...': Haqqani

Last updated on: January 31, 2014 18:50 IST

'Just like jihadis exist in Pakistan, anti-Pakistan hardliners exist in India,' Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former envoy to the US, tells Rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya.

Over two years ago, Husain Haqqani was forced to resign as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

Haqqani was accused of drawing up a mysterious memo that sought the United States’s help to stave off a military coup in Pakistan.

Conspiracy theories abound in the case.

Many believe Haqqani’s open contempt for the all-powerful Pakistani military and the Inter Services Intelligence directorate resulted in his dramatic ouster.

The former envoy has always maintained his innocence.

Haqqani, who attended the Jaipur Literature Festival to promote his book Magnificent Delusions: US, Pakistan and the Global Jihad, tells Rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya that he has put 'Memogate' behind him and explains why it is too early to declare that the army has taken a back seat in Pakistan.

Did you feel betrayed by your government in the wake of the Memogate episode? You had to resign and a judicial commission indicted you for your role in the affair.

That was a meaningless episode and it is behind me now. Most people know the truth about it and they are behind me.

I do wish the issue had not been blown out of proportion.

I was never put on trial and I was never charged with a criminal case.

It was treated like the farce it was.

Ho gaya, bas ho gaya…(it happened, it’s over).

Have you gone back to Pakistan since Memogate?

I last visited Pakistan in January 2012.

It is my home and I will go back there when I feel I will be safe.

Safety is a concern. I can’t afford to hire many private guards to protect me.

Pakistan is my home and I am committed towards reforms in my nation.

What do you think about the Pakistan government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif? It has repeatedly spoken about improving ties with India.

It was very, very, important for Pakistan to have two successive civilian governments and for them to assert control over all aspects of Pakistan policy.

Democracy will take root in Pakistan only if it is allowed to continue there.

Sharif should be allowed to do what the earlier government was not allowed to do by the security establishment.

The policy pronouncements of the Sharif-led government are not very different from the earlier one (led by the Pakistan People’s Party).

Sharif is perceived to be more India friendly than earlier Pakistani prime ministers because his opposition to the Kargil War is well known…

I don’t believe in rewriting history without evidence.

The Kargil War was definitely a tragedy. But we don’t know if the civilian government knew or didn’t know about it.

I do hope Sharif gets the opportunity to fulfil his promises.

If he does so, that will benefit both India and Pakistan.

Do you feel, during your visits to India, that the hostility towards Pakistan has deepened in the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai?

The fundamental fact is that hawkish tendencies exist in both India and Pakistan and both nations need to reduce them.

Just like jihadis exist in Pakistan, anti-Pak hardliners exist in India.

These questions can’t be answered easily. Processes are complex and opinions are built over many years.

Now that powerful military chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has stepped down and has been replaced by General Raheel Sharif, who was reportedly handpicked by Nawaz Sharif, do you think the Pakistan government will finally have a chance to function on its own, without any interference by the army?

It is too early to start commenting on the state of civilian-military relations in Pakistan.

I will watch the situation very carefully and I will also caution everyone else to watch the situation closely as well.

It’s not just about Pakistan.

This situation is true for any country where the army gets involved in the running of the government.

It takes many years to reduce the impact of such an arrangement.

Sanchari Bhattacharya