Pakistan never pulled itself together after its bloody creation from British India in 1947, asserts Haqqani (International Relations/Boston Univ.; Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, 2005, etc.), former ambassador to the United States, in this insightful, painful history of Pakistani-American relations.
Cobbling together a government (India received the capital and most civil servants) after independence, Pakistan’s leaders remain preoccupied with India, a fixation aggravated by losing several wars and the secession of East Pakistan as Bangladesh. The military absorbed the lion’s share of the budget, and when generals were not governing, civilian leaders deferred to their wishes. The economic development has been comparable to that of sub-Saharan Africa. Pakistan received modest aid until the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when America funneled massive support for the mujahedeen through Pakistan’s army, which remained influential in the anarchy after the Soviet withdrawal, sponsoring radical Islamic forces including the Taliban. Pakistan considers a fiercely Islamic Afghan government essential to exclude Indian influence. After 9/11, Pakistan agreed to support America’s war on terror. This was risky since the average Pakistani prefers terrorists to Americans, but we made an offer it couldn’t refuse: an avalanche of aid. American leaders knew Pakistan would spend most on conventional forces facing India but hoped for a quid pro quo. The result has been some cooperation against international terrorism but none against the Afghan Taliban—which, the author reminds us, are not international terrorists. America’s increasing frustration is matched by Pakistani outrage at military and drone incursions, which have produced violent anti-Americanism that threatens to destabilize a government that has never been noticeably stable.
Demonstrating no mercy to either party, Haqqani admits that Pakistan verges on failed-state status but shows little patience with America’s persistently shortsighted, fruitless policies.