Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani has taken strong exception to the contention that President Barack Obama's recent visit to India clearly indicates that while the United States seeks a long-term strategic partnership with Delhi, Pakistan to is nothing but a short-term strategic convenience to Washington.
During an interaction with rediff.com, which followed his remarks to the Atlantic Council--a Washington,DC think tank--Haqqani also scoffed at Obama's endorsement of India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, implying that it rang hollow because UNSC reform of expansion in not going to happen tomorrow, and also that the US had similarly endorsed Japan, but that nothing tangible had come of it.
Earlier, in his prepared remarks the Pakistani envoy had boasted that US and Pakistan had "moved past the transactional relationship" of the past and were now firmly rooted in a strategic partnership. But when faced with the fact that Obama had not visited Pakistan during his Asia trip, he argued that Washington could no longer afford to ignore Pakistan because to do so would be to its detriment.
Haqqani said, "Pakistan no longer sees US relations with India and with Pakistan as a zero-sum game. We are quite happy that Pakistan has a good relationship with the United States, and we are very equally pleased that India is developing very close and an important strategic partnership with the United States."
"As far as President Obama's visit to India is concerned," he said, "we appreciate that visit as offering an opportunity for bringing greater stability in our region," and reiterated that "friendship between the United States and India is not something that we look upon with any sense of worry."
Haqqani said, "All we would like is for our relationship to be stable and strengthened as well"
But, he added, "What the President said in India about the UN Security Council permanent membership is something we don't receive well. But then UN reform is something that is a complex process and we feel that complex process is yet to come to pass."
Haqqani recalled, "The United States also committed itself to a permanent seat to Japan several years ago, (but) Japan is nowhere near getting that seat. So, this is not something we don't see as going to reflect adversely in any way in US-Pakistan relations." But he reiterated that "UN reform is not something that I am going to read about in tomorrow's paper as having materialized."
Meanwhile, Haqqani said, "As far as Pakistan being relegated to a strategic convenience," he warned, "It hasn't benefited the United States in the past and I don't think it will benefit the United States this time around."
"So, I think there is considerable understanding around the United States that it is in America's interest to have a close relationship with Pakistan, just as it's in Pakistan's interest to have a close relationship with all our neighbors and with the world's sole superpower," he said.
But Haqqani did imply that the US doesn't understand Pakistan's security threat perceptions in the region, particularly vis-à-vis India, because it sees things from a global and not a regional perspective.
"Pakistan looks at a lot of problems from a regional perspective," he said, "and our frame of reference is shaped by our history, is shaped by our circumstances."
But he said, "America's view is more global and the American view of being global is not going to be the same as ours for the simple reason that that our frame of reference is shaped by our history and the American frame of reference is shaped by the American history, American expectations and American political structure."
But Haqqani argued that there was "the commitment between the two to forge a relationship that is longer term and is a genuine partnership in which Pakistan looks upon itself as a major non-NATO ally," of the US and "is something that we are looking towards beyond the strategic dialogue."