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The relationship between America and Pakistan is based on mutual incomprehension and always has been. Pakistan—to American eyes—has gone from being a quirky irrelevance, to a stabilizing friend, to an essential military ally, to a seedbed of terror. America—to Pakistani eyes—has been a guarantee of security, a coldly distant scold, an enthusiastic military enabler, and is The relationship between America and Pakistan is based on mutual incomprehension and always has been. Pakistan—to American eyes—has gone from being a quirky irrelevance, to a stabilizing friend, to an essential military ally, to a seedbed of terror. America—to Pakistani eyes—has been a guarantee of security, a coldly distant scold, an enthusiastic military enabler, and is now a threat to national security and a source of humiliation. The countries are not merely at odds. Each believes it can play the other—with sometimes absurd, sometimes tragic, results. The conventional narrative about the war in Afghanistan, for instance, has revolved around the Soviet invasion in 1979. But President Jimmy Carter signed the first authorization to help the Pakistani-backed mujahedeen covertly on July 3—almost six months before the Soviets invaded. Americans were told, and like to believe, that what followed was Charlie Wilson's war of Afghani liberation, with which they remain embroiled to this day. It was not. It was General Zia-ul-Haq's vicious regional power play. Husain Haqqani has a unique insight into Pakistan, his homeland, and America, where he was ambassador and is now a professor at Boston University. His life has mapped the relationship of the two countries and he has found himself often close to the heart of it, sometimes in very confrontational circumstances, and this has allowed him to write the story of a misbegotten diplomatic love affair, here memorably laid bare.


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The relationship between America and Pakistan is based on mutual incomprehension and always has been. Pakistan—to American eyes—has gone from being a quirky irrelevance, to a stabilizing friend, to an essential military ally, to a seedbed of terror. America—to Pakistani eyes—has been a guarantee of security, a coldly distant scold, an enthusiastic military enabler, and is The relationship between America and Pakistan is based on mutual incomprehension and always has been. Pakistan—to American eyes—has gone from being a quirky irrelevance, to a stabilizing friend, to an essential military ally, to a seedbed of terror. America—to Pakistani eyes—has been a guarantee of security, a coldly distant scold, an enthusiastic military enabler, and is now a threat to national security and a source of humiliation. The countries are not merely at odds. Each believes it can play the other—with sometimes absurd, sometimes tragic, results. The conventional narrative about the war in Afghanistan, for instance, has revolved around the Soviet invasion in 1979. But President Jimmy Carter signed the first authorization to help the Pakistani-backed mujahedeen covertly on July 3—almost six months before the Soviets invaded. Americans were told, and like to believe, that what followed was Charlie Wilson's war of Afghani liberation, with which they remain embroiled to this day. It was not. It was General Zia-ul-Haq's vicious regional power play. Husain Haqqani has a unique insight into Pakistan, his homeland, and America, where he was ambassador and is now a professor at Boston University. His life has mapped the relationship of the two countries and he has found himself often close to the heart of it, sometimes in very confrontational circumstances, and this has allowed him to write the story of a misbegotten diplomatic love affair, here memorably laid bare.

30 review for Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding

  1. 5 out of 5

    W

    Thanks to his ever changing political affiliations,Hussain Haqqani managed to become Pakistan's envoy,in Washington.It was a tenure,which ended in a lot of controversy.This book is Haqqani's take on Pakistan's history,and its perennially troubled relationship,with the United States.What struck me was the tone of the book,it is not particularly Pakistan friendly.The first five chapters are an account of the history of Pak US relations.The early days as allies,in SEATO and CENTO,US policy during t Thanks to his ever changing political affiliations,Hussain Haqqani managed to become Pakistan's envoy,in Washington.It was a tenure,which ended in a lot of controversy.This book is Haqqani's take on Pakistan's history,and its perennially troubled relationship,with the United States.What struck me was the tone of the book,it is not particularly Pakistan friendly.The first five chapters are an account of the history of Pak US relations.The early days as allies,in SEATO and CENTO,US policy during the wars of 1965,and 1971 and becoming allies again during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.Also,Pakistan's nuclear programme,which the US conveniently forgot about during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan,and remembered yet again after the Soviets had withdrawn.And then,of course the US invasion of Afghanistan,after 9/11 which saw the relationship become more and more troubled.The last two chapters are livelier as Haqqani recounts his personal experiences,but also controversial.I would have liked to hear more about his version of the "Memogate" affair,which brought an abrupt end to his tenure,but he conveniently skips it.Overall,the book is rather boring,and recounts a lot of familiar history,in a slanted manner.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    Friendship is like wine for what stands the test of time becomes a true delight. And again like vintage wine, there are not too many friendships that each of us will cherish. There will be a small select set of people with whom you are utterly comfortable and those moments can never be recreated in their entirety with anyone else. If you knew someone for 68 years of your life, how would that relation be ? A feeling of absolute ease, comfort and wellbeing ? If the example of Pakistan and the US w Friendship is like wine for what stands the test of time becomes a true delight. And again like vintage wine, there are not too many friendships that each of us will cherish. There will be a small select set of people with whom you are utterly comfortable and those moments can never be recreated in their entirety with anyone else. If you knew someone for 68 years of your life, how would that relation be ? A feeling of absolute ease, comfort and wellbeing ? If the example of Pakistan and the US were to be considered, the three most important factors in their relationship is : dependence, deception and defiance or so says Hussain Haqqani. In their entire relationship spanning 7 decades, these two countries have ended up being grumbling partners whose most distinguishing characteristic is mistrust. This book is an account of the coziness that Pakistan enjoys with the US right from its inception and how so very unlike friends, they continue to work together in the strangest of ways. The more you know history, the more you realize that petty human feelings of companionship and friendship have no place in shaping World events. It is all hardnosed pragmatism ! The account is a long one which starts right from 1947 and the time of Muhammed Ali Jinnah when Pakistan as a fledgling nation slowly starting to take baby steps on the World stage. Across the seas, Uncle Sam in the guise of Harry Truman was watching this little nation state with a detached interest. Across the borders of Pakistan its geographically bigger neighbor – India was slowly coming to terms with its independence from the Brits too. If I may digress a bit here, Independence day celebrations are a big affair in both India and Pakistan even now and yet in 1947, it was a time when riots rocked the foundations of both countries. Millions died in the wake of Independence and right there in the middle of all that chaos were sown the first seeds of the long standing enmity between India and Pakistan. It has grown and metamorphosed into monstrous proportions which include two major wars, countless skirmishes across the borders and massive armed insurgency. In the beginning however, Jinnah was the architect who envisaged a nation drawn on the lines of religion but one that was tolerant of other faiths as well. The strain of militant Islam was not one for him and it was this idea that he used as a bargaining chip while holding conversations with the Americans. In the hope of building a long term and mutually beneficial relationship, the US started assisting Pakistan for purportedly a very short period of time. What began as a onetime aid still continues to this day. If you were to look at the author’s POV, it is that Pakistan used the tallest of words to get all that it wanted from America by offering very little in return. The response from the US was lukewarm in terms of the demands from Pakistan until Nixon stepped into office with Kissinger in tow. The period of the Cold War turned out to be the most beneficial for the Pakistanis who made the best of this relationship in monetary terms as well as in arms sales. There are three pivotal points in the relationship between Pakistan and the US : 1.The Soviet Invasion Of Afghanistan : The first time that the West got a chance to lure the Soivets into their own ‘Vietnam quagmire’ was something too good to miss for the Americans. At this time, Paksitan was geographically the best positioned nation to offer military bases to the West. They ended up wounding the Russian bear and very badly at it. The fallout was that the Mujahideen trained jointly by Pakistan and American intelligence later turned out to be the fiercest enemies of the West in the form of Al- Qaeda and numerous other terror outfits. 2.The September 11 Attacks : This too was a first for never before had an attack of such scale and brutality been carried out on American soil. Following the discovery of mounting evidence against Al-Qaeda, the US took the stance of ‘You are either with us or against us’ with their reluctant ally. Pakistan had little else to do but join the battle with the West against militant Islam. 3.Operation Neptune Spear : The killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 in Abbottabad turned the entire tide of US-Pakistan relationship forever. While earlier there were only few dissenting voices in the US against the huge volume of funds pumped to Pakistan, this incident made the people of America come out openly against Pakistan. The feeling was more or less mirrored in Pakistan with the rising anti-American sentiment. Things finally came to the situation that led a former American diplomat to remark : They don’t like us and we don’t trust them. They still continue to work together but the entire equation has changed. All along the way through financial aid and military modernization, America hopes to make Pakistan more self-reliant and independent but this is a hope in which they fail. The military and intelligence establishments were interested in acquiring these assets to strengthen their military muscle and intimidate India for a bloody settlement of the Kashmir imbroglio. The terror attacks in Mumbai and on the Indian parliament over the years with evidence pointing to the instigators across the border have served to put a lot of strain into US-Pak relations. It is an extremely exhaustive account of facts, figures and details of this rocky relationship and yet to me it did not appear to be very objective. The first reason is that we only see the Pakistanis as represented by their leaders in this book. According to Haqqani’s portraits, barring Benazir Bhutto and a few scattered remarks here and there of Nawaz Sheriff and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the other leaders (civilian & military) are seen as scheming villains. They exploit the Americans to the last dollar and do nothing but hem and haw in return. They are shown to be sly and crafty who try to achieve their own ends. While this could be true, the image it gives of Pakistan as a nation is of one that stands at America’s door all the time ever since inception which I seriously don’t think is true. There would undoubtedly be genuine, good human beings out there who want to change things from what they are and yet they find no voice in Haqqani’s account. The author himself was Pakistan’s ambassador to US who is now marked out as a traitor to his nation by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Sadly, he will never see his homeland again but fortunately for us the readers this has not made this book a bitter account of just his personal experiences. A very readable record of the partnership that has shaped a large majority of the events in Asia. It is also a point to mull over as to where this relationship will head to in the future.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States and currently persona non grata (extremely non grata) from his homeland, denounced as a traitor and accused of betraying the Pakistani military in favor of the United States, has no illusions about who runs his native land and who benefits from it. While "Magnificent Delusions" may seem over the top in places the more one reads about and studies South Asia the more one realizes that his book is very much on the money. Haqqani writes that Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States and currently persona non grata (extremely non grata) from his homeland, denounced as a traitor and accused of betraying the Pakistani military in favor of the United States, has no illusions about who runs his native land and who benefits from it. While "Magnificent Delusions" may seem over the top in places the more one reads about and studies South Asia the more one realizes that his book is very much on the money. Haqqani writes that Pakistan has had an inflated view of its importance on the world stage since 1947 and expects the United States to fund and arm it. At the same time U.S. intelligence and political leaders refused to see that the Pakistani military was created, trained and deployed for war with India particularly to force the return of Kashmir to Pakistan. They continued to tell themselves that Pakistan was part of a bulwark against the USSR. In reality the Pakistani enemies list started and stopped with India although there were always belligerent noises toward Israel. The pro forma pronouncements against the Soviets in Afghanistan were mainly to keep the flow of funds moving from Washington. In recent years, their erstwhile proxies (Pakistan taliban, al qaeda, etc.) have turned their guns on the Pakistani state itself. While the story of the huge increase in U.S. military aid to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan doesn't need retelling, one unintended consequence was increasing funds for the development of an "Islamic bomb" in Pakistan. The Saudis contributed billions for anti-Taliban and anti-al Qeada operations with the United States matching much of it. There was so much money sloshing around with essentially no oversight or control from the donors it was easy to surreptitiously transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to the nuclear program. Well written and told by a real insider, this book tells a sorry tale that shows no sign of improving.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    The nuanced tale of Pakistani - American relations as told from an exiled Pakistani diplomat. With the exception of the final chapter, I found Haqqani's history to be comprehensive, and his conclusions relevant and fair. I found the chapter on Zia and the ISI during the Soviet - Afghan war to be quite pertinent, as I feel many times as Americans we myopically view this through the Hollywood veil of Charlie Wilson's War. Additionally, it was fascinating to see to what extent Benazir Bhutto was co The nuanced tale of Pakistani - American relations as told from an exiled Pakistani diplomat. With the exception of the final chapter, I found Haqqani's history to be comprehensive, and his conclusions relevant and fair. I found the chapter on Zia and the ISI during the Soviet - Afghan war to be quite pertinent, as I feel many times as Americans we myopically view this through the Hollywood veil of Charlie Wilson's War. Additionally, it was fascinating to see to what extent Benazir Bhutto was completely powerless during her two separate terms as Prime Minister. I was pleased with how he consistently underscored the fact that any semblance of modernity and reform has been consistently squashed by the ISI thugs, who sadly are Pakistan's true leaders in the 21st Century. My only qualm with the final chapter is that I feel he was not completely honest about the events leading to his ouster or about his complicated relationship with Islamabad in the post-9/11 years. I certainly wouldn't go as far as to say he was disengenuous in any manner, however, being that his current situation is quite tenuous, I feel as though at this very moment he couldn't relay everything he was privy to during the final years of his diplomatic service. As a result, perhaps he should have waited five or ten more years before publishing a book on such a controversial topic such as this. However, putting my speculation aside, Haqqani has truly delivered a gem with this narrative.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tariq Mahmood

    Haqqani has produced a gem of a book on the complex US Pakistani relationship. Successive Pakistani governments whether Army or civilian have followed the same policy of grovelling with the US since the creation of Pakistan. Constantly nagging and begging seems to have worked for the Pakistanis over the years though, at least we have built a huge army. The issue is that the powerful Army is not taking orders from the civilian Establishment. If only the huge amounts of USaid was spent on the econ Haqqani has produced a gem of a book on the complex US Pakistani relationship. Successive Pakistani governments whether Army or civilian have followed the same policy of grovelling with the US since the creation of Pakistan. Constantly nagging and begging seems to have worked for the Pakistanis over the years though, at least we have built a huge army. The issue is that the powerful Army is not taking orders from the civilian Establishment. If only the huge amounts of USaid was spent on the economy instead of building the Army we could catch other similar recipients of Aid like South Korea. Pakistan is also insecure and obsessed with imaginary threats from India and Afghanistan. I think the only way to get out of this situation is to work on the economy like Turkey. Once the economy is in ship shape the Army can be subdued effectively.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barry Sierer

    Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, seems to have had the wrong job. He probably should have been the US Ambassador to Pakistan instead. Haqqani himself is widely regarded as a pro US agent (something that cost him his job as Ambassador) and it’s easy to see why. His narrative of the troubled relationship between the US and Pakistan is very critical of Pakistani policies and decisions while sparing the US a similar amount of criticism. Still, Haqqani makes a compelling case Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, seems to have had the wrong job. He probably should have been the US Ambassador to Pakistan instead. Haqqani himself is widely regarded as a pro US agent (something that cost him his job as Ambassador) and it’s easy to see why. His narrative of the troubled relationship between the US and Pakistan is very critical of Pakistani policies and decisions while sparing the US a similar amount of criticism. Still, Haqqani makes a compelling case about where most of the problems lie within the relationship. While it is worth the time, the reader should know going in that it has quite a slant.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    Husain Haqqani was Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 to 2011 and was a close advisor to prime minister Benazir Bhutto. He currently teaches at Boston University, after being ousted under threats of treason by a Pakistan Commission of Inquiry. Haqqani contends that US-Pakistani relations, from Pakistan's inception in 1947, have been based on misconceptions, delusions and strategic goals at cross purposes. The US determined that Pakistan might be a useful buffer against possible Soviet en Husain Haqqani was Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 to 2011 and was a close advisor to prime minister Benazir Bhutto. He currently teaches at Boston University, after being ousted under threats of treason by a Pakistan Commission of Inquiry. Haqqani contends that US-Pakistani relations, from Pakistan's inception in 1947, have been based on misconceptions, delusions and strategic goals at cross purposes. The US determined that Pakistan might be a useful buffer against possible Soviet encroachment in the area, a concept eagerly endorsed by Pakistan, and aided by India's stand-offish attitude to the US in the Cold War. Pakistan pressured the US that this role entitled it to significant military aid, in order to be strong enough for this role. However, Pakistan's obsession was with perceived threats from India, which they saw as an existential threat. So while giving lip service to the US in support for its Cold War aims, Pakistan lined up the US military largesse along its borders with India. Haqqani recites a depressing sequence of Pakistani demands for more military aid throughout the years. The Pakistanis became adept at charming Americans in power (Nixon in particular was fond of the Pakistanis, while contemptuous of Indira Gandhi) and developing military relationships, while complaining of their issues with India. The Pakistanis also used domestic unrest as an excuse for more assistance, which was focused on military might, while the economic and social needs of the populace were largely ignored. In fact, Pakistan used any US hesitation to provide aid as a means of stirring up demonstrations against to US. The US helped create the mess that Pakistan is today - with civilian governments unable to control the powerful military and intelligence communities. With the end of the Cold War, the US sought Pakistan assistance in fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and later in anti-terrorist activities. But US aid to Pakistan for these purposes was subverted into Pakistan's vision of gaining an upper hand against India. In the process, US assistance contributed substantially to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Haqqani covers US efforts to deter terrorists, and the quest for Osama bin Laden went back farther than I realized. Haqqani was witness to many high level meetings after the murder of Bin Laden, and Pakistan's double dealing is an exasperating read. Billions of dollars in aid have not resulted in any appreciable leverage in Pakistan, which remains an unstable, unfulfilled, paranoid country. Haqqani says the US and Pakistan have few shared interests and very different political needs. His insight adds to our understanding of the region, but gives very little satisfaction.

  8. 4 out of 5

    J

    This book contains great insight from an insider and scholar on the true nature and historical failings of the US-Pakistan relationship. Ambassador Haqqani does not pull any punches when it comes to who and what is responsible for this turbulent relationship on both sides. It is remarkably honest, and frankly brave as well. Ambassador Haqqani suffered a lot of criticism, the political firestorm that saw him out of the office of Ambassador, and even death threats for refusing to mince words and s This book contains great insight from an insider and scholar on the true nature and historical failings of the US-Pakistan relationship. Ambassador Haqqani does not pull any punches when it comes to who and what is responsible for this turbulent relationship on both sides. It is remarkably honest, and frankly brave as well. Ambassador Haqqani suffered a lot of criticism, the political firestorm that saw him out of the office of Ambassador, and even death threats for refusing to mince words and step in line with the powers that be and their political agendas, be it in his first book, his Ambassadorship, or now in this book. That being said, this book is also a breath of fresh air among the other books on US-Pakistan politics. The book is easy to read, while still going deep in its analysis, well organized, and interspersed with the Ambassador's typical sense of humor, as he compares the US-Pakistan relationship to a loveless marriage. You won't get bored reading this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ijlal

    There is a quote from the novel 1984 by George Orwell that "who controls past controls the future and who controls the present controls the past" which could be cited to describe the reason of the miserably oblivious state of the people of Pakistan. It's the bitter truth that most of the Pakistanis are living in the state of limbo to the factual history of Pakistan which is of utmost importance, to acknowledge our blunders of the past and to evaluate what the future holds for us. It's said that h There is a quote from the novel 1984 by George Orwell that "who controls past controls the future and who controls the present controls the past" which could be cited to describe the reason of the miserably oblivious state of the people of Pakistan. It's the bitter truth that most of the Pakistanis are living in the state of limbo to the factual history of Pakistan which is of utmost importance, to acknowledge our blunders of the past and to evaluate what the future holds for us. It's said that history repeats itself. This phrase appears to be true in the case of Pakistan when we analyze her history and make a junction of her grim past with her gloomy present. Anyone with the pellucid knowledge of the history of Pakistan must have realised that the rise of Imran Khan gives us a sense of Déjà vu and provides us with more than enough evidence to shrewdly believe that history is repeating itself. In fact we are living in a loophole. This book provides us with a mammoth account of cognizant insights which we all once perceived. However, confiscated to believe in eventually. As this lucid reality had always been morphed by state's handicraft. Haqqani is acumen in his thrashing of our convoluted fallacies of the past. Life was grim, life is grim and life will be grim in Pakistan for our future generations.The only way to avoid this everlasting diabolical situation is by creating a sense of mea culpa in our masses, which means an acknowledgement of one's faults or errors. Consequently, breaking the wheel. Although, a prodigiously arduous task in our currently oblivious state. Yet, not an impossible one. Thus, I recommend all of you to hop on this ferret voyage of acknowledging the deliberate blunders of our past. An act which is of paramount importance to build a future of constructive nature.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mansoor Azam

    Former ambassador of Pakistan to US had a few scores to settle with his foes in Pakistan responsible for his not so glorious downfall from riches. If the book would have been written without this background it would have got a clean chit from me. Mr Haqani points to right corners and brings out the difference in schools of thoughts in US and Pak top echelons which have been the causes of much ebb n floww in this rocking relationship. Some instances are really interesting. Though i knew much he h Former ambassador of Pakistan to US had a few scores to settle with his foes in Pakistan responsible for his not so glorious downfall from riches. If the book would have been written without this background it would have got a clean chit from me. Mr Haqani points to right corners and brings out the difference in schools of thoughts in US and Pak top echelons which have been the causes of much ebb n floww in this rocking relationship. Some instances are really interesting. Though i knew much he had to say in the past as i read it here n there but to get a passing glimpse of the complete relationship in a go its a fair enough book. Just if one keeps in mind Mr Haqqani's personal dejection and differences against Pakistani establishment which i believe is much evident in the closing chapters where he has blurred the events in order primarily to settle scores. For anyone who is brought up on government fed history books and sermons this is a NO GO land as some facts enumerated are too hard to swallow.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Khalid Khan

    Good history and insight into the unstable relationship between the US and Pakistan. My disappointment was that the details thin out when you get to the recent period (2007+) when he was in the middle of the action.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jerrodm

    What a profoundly depressing book. It's the story of the US/Pakistan relationship from the time of Pakistan's creation in the late 1940's through the present, as told by a senior Pakistani statesman and diplomat. The author, Hussain Haqqani, was the Pakistani ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011. He resigned from that position due to a scandal that involved allegations of him writing a secret memo to then-chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, in which Haqqani allegedly asked for as What a profoundly depressing book. It's the story of the US/Pakistan relationship from the time of Pakistan's creation in the late 1940's through the present, as told by a senior Pakistani statesman and diplomat. The author, Hussain Haqqani, was the Pakistani ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011. He resigned from that position due to a scandal that involved allegations of him writing a secret memo to then-chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, in which Haqqani allegedly asked for assistance in preventing a military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Ladin in 2011. Haqqani returned to Pakistan, was put under virtual house arrest while Pakistani courts considered the case, and was eventually allowed to leave the country. He's now living in the US in self-imposed exile. So, it's probably not a shock to hear that this book doesn't sugar-coat its depiction of Pakistan's past actions, including its aggressions against India, its handling of East Pakistan and the 1971 civil war that resulted in the country's partition into Pakistan and Bangladesh, its deception in pursuit of nuclear weapons and, probably most damning, its long-standing and continuing support for terrorism, both of the Afghani and Kashmiri types, including training, logistical support and information sharing. There's a lot in here that looks pretty ugly. Of course, the US doesn't get off completely scot-free either. In the early days of US-Pakistani relations, it looks merely ignorant, content to rely on stereotype-driven descriptions of South Asians that were established during the British Raj (e.g., that Pashtuns and Punjabis are "martial races", while Bengalis are not), instead of a clear-eyed assessment of what was happening in the country. Starting with the Zia ul-Haq era, the story gets a bit darker--the author makes the case, through extensive use of quotations from US media and top-level officials, that America was more than ready to look the other way on the Pakistani government's use of Islamist extremists and of extremist & anti-Western (including especially anti-US) propaganda, as long as Pakistan played ball with the US on weakening the Soviet Union through its pursuit of guerrilla conflict in Afghanistan. This policy extended to Pakistan's pursuit of illicit nuclear weapons as well--successive Pakistani heads of state made the (correct) gamble that they could continue to pursue nuclear weapons and lie to Americans, and we would look the other way as long as Pakistan facilitated the Afghan conflict. And that's essentially exactly what happened, until it was too late to stop them. More fundamentally, American policy makers appear to have been swayed time and again by two arguments--1) that Pakistan required more military assistance to stabilize its country before it could achieve better development outcomes; and 2) that it could not pursue various courses of action--participation in treaty obligations, control/eradication of Islamist groups, civilianization of the government, etc. etc.--due to the threat of popular rebellion and the ever-present specter of Islamists taking over the government. This last dynamic is especially poisonous, since the author provides ample proof of how the Pakistani government has itself for decades cultivated, grew and periodically unleashed these same extremist/Jihadist groups in support of its external political goals in Kashmir and Afghanistan, and has cynically used Islam and anti-Westernism in the media as a weapon against reform and other political decisions it did not want to take. The boy that keeps crying wolf turns out to have been raising and feeding the wolves, and loosing them selectively on neighboring towns when it suits his purposes. The really disturbing thing about this story, as told by the author, is how fundamentally skewed the domestic dialog is in Pakistan around foreign policy. High-level officials are and have always been completely fixated on a kind of little-brother orientation to India, where they are always trying to be big enough and strong enough to match with their neighbor. It is apparent that this perspective only goes one way--at one point in the book the author is discussing a set of negotiations the US was undertaking with Pakistan over weapons, and all Pakistan could think about was its rivalry with India. At the same time, statements and quotations from senior Indian officials made it clear that their main strategic focus wasn't Pakistan, but China (with whom they'd recently fought a war). The saddest thing about Pakistan's perceived rivalry with India is its one-sidedness--Pakistan sees India as its primary (sole?) existential threat, while India sees Pakistan as nothing more than a potentially dangerous irritant. So what to do with all of this? The author isn't long on policy prescriptions, but it's hard to know what to prescribe in such a case. It does seem like the willingness of the US to continue to interact directly with Pakistan's intelligence service (the ISI) is eroding any chance for the civilian government to conduct policy independently; as problematic is the apparent fact that, according to a US analysis cited in the book, the ISI is "deeply penetrated by Jihadist sympathizers". An obvious solution would be to cut off or reduce direct contacts between the US and Pakistani intelligence services and militaries, but what then happens if the military and ISI, unhappy about being out of the loop, overthrow the civilian government and install a military dictator? It's not like it hasn't happened before (several times). It seems to me that there aren't many good options for the US in the current situation. A general withdrawal of US interest and support seems in order if we don't have any way of improving the governance and security situation, and if our involvement is in fact facilitating the Pakistani government's bad behavior in the region and vis a vis its own people. It certainly seems like that has been the case for a long time. But two considerations are probably paramount in the minds of policy makers--one is Afghanistan, from where the US has recently withdrawn most of its military presence. If the US stops playing (relatively) nice with Pakistan, where will we fly the drones from that are currently being used to target Taliban and other militant groups that otherwise might threaten to overthrow the fragile Western-backed Afghani government? The second is Pakistan itself--without the US as a patron, will the regime there survive? It seems possible that an Islamist movement could take power in Pakistan as well, threatening India and others in the region. There are, of course, no easy answers to this dilemma. However, I think the pattern established by the author in this book, of US complaisance and short-term thinking regarding its partnership with Pakistan, and its effects, should give policymakers pause. A withdrawal of military aid and cooperation from Pakistan could certainly increase the short- and medium-term fragility of the country's politics, as their leaders have always argued when such a cutoff has been contemplated. But the continuation of past US policies has, in effect, prevented Pakistanis from ever really having to face the question of what kind of government they want--a civilian government committed to development and constructive engagement with its neighbors, or a paranoid, secretive military- or extremist-led government that sees everything as zero-sum and seeks to weaken its neighbors to improve its own relative standing? Pakistanis haven't faced that question, because US support for whomever happened to be in power at the moment, and circumvention of civilian authorities in the name of efficiency, have prevented it from coming to a head. But Pakistan isn't more developed, or freer, or more secure as a result of sixty years of such politics. Perhaps a new approach is needed to bring these questions to the forefront of Pakistan's national conversation. We don't know what the answers would look like, and we don't have control over how the government (civilians, military and the ISI) might distort the conversation along the way. And that's scary. But the only way you're going to get a real basis for rational policy going forward is if there is some kind of consensus within the country about what is important to them and what they want to accomplish, and that hasn't happened for Pakistan yet. Unfortunately, given the short cycle of strategic thinking in the US and elsewhere, we're not likely to facilitate that kind of movement either; instead, successive administrations will keep passing the ticking package from one to the next, hoping it doesn't explode on their watch. See, I told you it was a depressing book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cliff

    Haqqani’s second book about his old home country, he’s now in virtual exile in the United States, is probably more readable to US audiences than his first, as it focuses much more on US actions and is thus more familiar. Understanding how those actions were interpreted by the powers that be in Pakistan, and visa versa, is the focus of the book. It should come as no great surprise to even casual observers of international politics that each country saw the alliance differently, but what might be Haqqani’s second book about his old home country, he’s now in virtual exile in the United States, is probably more readable to US audiences than his first, as it focuses much more on US actions and is thus more familiar. Understanding how those actions were interpreted by the powers that be in Pakistan, and visa versa, is the focus of the book. It should come as no great surprise to even casual observers of international politics that each country saw the alliance differently, but what might be a little surprising is how much choices by each fed the narrative that lead to this mutual misunderstanding again and again, sometimes for complicated internal political reasons and sometimes from simple misunderstanding. Either way, his take is fascinating and a must read for anyone interested in the region.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A great book on one of America’s most dysfunctional and least productive alliances, and on Pakistan’s misunderstanding of the limits of US obligations. When Pakistan became an independent state in 1947, neither the US nor the Soviets paid much attention. Pakistan and America shared no national interests, even though Pakistan expected US aid. The idea of Pakistan originated as nothing more than a bargaining chip to protect Muslims in India, and nobody had any idea of how a separate Islamic state A great book on one of America’s most dysfunctional and least productive alliances, and on Pakistan’s misunderstanding of the limits of US obligations. When Pakistan became an independent state in 1947, neither the US nor the Soviets paid much attention. Pakistan and America shared no national interests, even though Pakistan expected US aid. The idea of Pakistan originated as nothing more than a bargaining chip to protect Muslims in India, and nobody had any idea of how a separate Islamic state would work. Peace and prosperity for Pakistan was unlikely because its identity was based only on Islam and it coveted Kashmir, which the Indians did not plan on giving up. From the beginning, Pakistan expected US aid in return for as little as possible. Whenever they wanted attention, they threatened to turn to the Soviets, even though the Soviets showed no interest whatsoever in the region. Pakistan's history of dictatorship slso played a part in the history of US-Pakistani relations. Far too often, US policy toward Pakistan was based on personal impressions of Pakistani leaders rather than careful analysis of those leaders' policies. Pakistan’s motives can be attributed to its quest for security against India, and to achieve this, Pakistan turns to the US for weapons and support. Unfortunately for Pakistan, the US does not view India as a threat to American interests. This lack of shared interests has bedeviled US-Pakistani relations from their conception. It also encourages Pakistan’s unsubstantiated fear of Indian plans to destroy Pakistan. Strictly speaking, Pakistan and India aren't even equals on the world stage. However, Pakistan views itself as a player in the region, with an arrogance that is almost comical if it wasn't so destructive. Since independence Pakistan has sought parity with India, only to learn that in three wars they could not defeat their neighbor. After each defeat, Pakistan explained its defeat away, thereby keeping the rivalry alive at least at a psychological level. Pakistani victory proved elusive, but Pakistan continued to place a high priority on dominance over India, putting more pressing immediate priorities on hold. America’s motives have also been based on security concerns. During the Cold War, the US supported Pakistan hoping to curb Asian communism, but this proved to be one-sided: Pakistan failed to support America’s Cold War military ventures in Korea and Vietnam, instead using its American-supplied weapons against India. America’s aims of convincing Pakistan to curtail its nuclear program or its backing of Islamist militant groups have also proven futile. The reasoning behind Pakistan's selection as a Cold War ally of the US could also be called into question. Due to regional geography, the only kind of conflict possible in the region was between India and Pakistan. This made Pakistan's feasibility as a Cold War ally of the US even more questionable.Americans quickly learned that references in Pakistani military plans to dangers from Soviet expansion were only bait; Pakistan's real military concern remained India. Another cause of the US tilt toward Pakistan was India's insistence on neutralist policies. Both the US and the Soviets tried to woo India to their side. When India refused to be forced into making such a decision, the US turned to Pakistan. Pakistan overemphasized its commitment to the anti-communist cause in order to secure US aid, and likewise the US pretended to be attentive even though its interest was less than previously stated. A major impediment to US-Pakistani relations is Pakistan's desire for nuclear weapons, which they eventually succeeded in developing. Pakistan believed such weapons were necessary for their survival. Washington, protested, but as soon as the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the issue was dropped; America needed Pakistan's aid in supporting the Afghan mujahideen. America's use of the mujahideen as a proxy owed much to Pakistani lobbying efforts. Although the US was interested only in bleeding the Soviets, Pakistan's aim was to install an Islamist pro-Pakistani Afghan regime. Because Pashtun nationalism posed a threat to Pakistan's territorial integrity, Pakistan supported Islamist groups as a counterweight. Pakistan embraced the concept of "strategic depth," the notion that Pakistan's security against India lay in virtual control over Afghanistan.The problem with this notion was 1) that Pakistani support for the Taliban fueled terrorism in Pakistan itself and 2) that strategic depth is not really necessary in the first place because both sides have nuclear weapons. Ironically, Pakistani support for Islamist militants has proved to be a far more closer-to-home threat than India. In the war on terror, Pakistan has also proven an unreliable ally. Pakistan continued to indirectly support the Taliban after 2001, and Pakistani military and ISI elements continued to support jihadist groups in a rogue fashion, even though those same groups frequently carried out bombings and assassination attempts on Pakistan. Many Pakistanis blame these attacks on Pakistan's alliance with the US. This has the unfortunate effect of further chilling US-Pakistani relations, and makes it easier for Pakistanis to blame the US than to tackle domestic terrorism themselves. Haqqani’s book is not a polemic, rather it is a solid history of how Pakistan and the US have formed their relationship around wishful assumptions rather than informed analysis of whether such a relationship would actually work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ann McReynolds

    Must reading for Americans seeking to understand the foreign policy of this country toward the area of Southeast Asia during the presidencies of Carter, the Bushes, Clinton and Obama, "Magnificent Delusions", together with "The Taliban Revival" by Hassan Abbas, and Peter Bergen's "The Longest War" . The birth of Pakistan, the fierce tribal rivalries, the religious hatred between Muslim and Hindu, the larger schemes of Russia's involvement, all demonstrate the morass into which our military have Must reading for Americans seeking to understand the foreign policy of this country toward the area of Southeast Asia during the presidencies of Carter, the Bushes, Clinton and Obama, "Magnificent Delusions", together with "The Taliban Revival" by Hassan Abbas, and Peter Bergen's "The Longest War" . The birth of Pakistan, the fierce tribal rivalries, the religious hatred between Muslim and Hindu, the larger schemes of Russia's involvement, all demonstrate the morass into which our military have been drawn and are dying in the "Graveyard of Empires." More than $2 billion a year have been approved by successive presidents under the continuing resolution.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Divakar

    Pakistan features heavily on my reading list. Possibly at least one book per quarter. Our messed up neighbor is like a proverbial onion…you get different perspectives as you peel layer after layer. How often do you see a book where on the back cover, you have endorsements from the likes of Madeleine Albright (the Grande dame of foreign policy during Clinton era) and Walter Isaacson of the ASPEN institute and the author of the eminently readable biography of Steve Jobs? The endorsements and also t Pakistan features heavily on my reading list. Possibly at least one book per quarter. Our messed up neighbor is like a proverbial onion…you get different perspectives as you peel layer after layer. How often do you see a book where on the back cover, you have endorsements from the likes of Madeleine Albright (the Grande dame of foreign policy during Clinton era) and Walter Isaacson of the ASPEN institute and the author of the eminently readable biography of Steve Jobs? The endorsements and also the fact that it was written by Hussain Haqqani…a close aide of the Bhuttos and also a scholar to boot…I knew that I was stumbling onto something interesting….and glad that I read this book. The book traces the history of Pakistan from its independence and covers history all the way up to yesterday literally. It is a story of a country which has manipulated one of the most powerful countries of the world for arms and aid for over 60 years, has been continuously betraying the trust and goodies that the benevolent benefactor dished out ( for its own compulsions and reasons) and still continues to. I think that the DELUSIONS that the author refers to is the delusions of Pakistan and its leaders. Of their self-perceived importance in the world order….and in the Islamic world…..whereas the reality is that today it is a failed state, a bad neighbor for us and hallucinating about their criticality to maintain the balance of power in West and South Asia. From Jinnah to Iskandar Mirza to Nazimuddin to Yahya Khan to Bhutto to Zia to Jr Bhutto to Shariff (they pop up a couple of times as the PM) to Musharaff to Shariff again…the book takes us sequentially thru the history of Pakistan and how they manipulated an un-willing super power for arms and aid. First as a bulwark against communism during the cold war era and later as a front –running supporter against terror (and have Bin Laden in the backyard which the Americans had to snuff out!). The short sightedness of American foreign policy is apparent all thru the book. Their obsession with the here and now without a long term perspective comes across. From Eisenhower to Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon to the Bushes / Clintons and Obama…it seems like a series of miscalculations and inability to understand the real issues of West and South Asia and take ham-handed decisions which are messing up the region and also messing up the benefactor – the US. It is an engaging story of a renegade and ungrateful nation and a thankless benefactor….and Haqqani….who was also Benazir Bhutto’s US Ambassador gives you an inside scoop on the asymmetric relationship between America and Pakistan – a land where the 3 ‘A’s defined their destiny – the Army, Allah and America. (This is not my original…this is MJ Akbar’s description of Pakistan). Very Very well written, it has a scholarly feel without getting boring and tedious, the language is good, moves at a brisk pace and gives you an inside story of how the world’s most powerful nation can go wrong in understanding one of the world’s most messed up nations – messed up by their politicians and the Army and normal people in Pakistan are paying the price with bombs in their backyard.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rajesh Suseelan

    Husain Haqqani gives the lowdown on the deceitful games played by his previous masters - How Pakistani government's hatred of India and its need to justify the "2 nation theory", led to them lying through their teeth to the US for military and financial assistance,so that they could build their might against India.The Pakistani establishment had mastered the art of playing one party off against the other for its own military and strategic gains- play the Soviets against the Americans, Indians ag Husain Haqqani gives the lowdown on the deceitful games played by his previous masters - How Pakistani government's hatred of India and its need to justify the "2 nation theory", led to them lying through their teeth to the US for military and financial assistance,so that they could build their might against India.The Pakistani establishment had mastered the art of playing one party off against the other for its own military and strategic gains- play the Soviets against the Americans, Indians against the Chinese. As they say, you cant really clap with one hand. The American role is just as grim. The US, wearing its Cold War hat, was truly deluded into thinking that they could use Pakistan as geo-political counter balance to the Soviet influence in the region and to also think that Pakistan could be the middle-man into a new US-China equation. Repeated warnings about Pakistan's intentions by embassy staff in Pakistan, American observers and the American media were repeatedly ignored by the White House and CIA. Special shutouts to Nixon and Eisenhower for their their role not just in the 1971 ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh , but also in the creation of armed jihadis and the Taliban . We can all see how that how that relationship eventually turned out. After reading this book, I came off with a deep sense of sympathy for the people of Pakistan. They trusted their successive governments to take care of them. Instead governments (Civilian and military) wasted aid opportunities one after another in building up military muscle instead of investing in economic development. The state substituted aid for revenue and led the Pakistani people up the garden path. By curbing the media and changing history books, the state led the people to a false sense of security and identity. Just as the wounds of the 1947 partition were healing, the military subjected the people to another partition in 1971. The horrors of that partition and the reasons behind it, were again, hidden from the Pakistani people and were instead attributed to American and Indian connivance. Magnificent Delusions is highly recommended for anyone looking for an understanding of the geopolitical overview of the conflict in the Af-PAK and Indo-Pak region.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tiwary Amit

    It is very difficult to write the review of this book. This book evokes so much frustration, so much unhappiness in me. I have always believed that Pakistan is a rogue state. It has done so much harm to India and its immediate neighbours since inception. And the backbone of it is the irrational and unjustified American Policy of Pakistan, American alliance with Pakistan, and Americal support to Pakistan. In last few years, America has realized this when it was drawn into Afghanistan and started It is very difficult to write the review of this book. This book evokes so much frustration, so much unhappiness in me. I have always believed that Pakistan is a rogue state. It has done so much harm to India and its immediate neighbours since inception. And the backbone of it is the irrational and unjustified American Policy of Pakistan, American alliance with Pakistan, and Americal support to Pakistan. In last few years, America has realized this when it was drawn into Afghanistan and started losing American lives and blood in direct or indirect wars/attacks. America has caused so much chaos in my region of world geography aligning with directionless Pakistan. This book is a testimony to it. My sincere and profound gratitudes to Mr. Haqqani in bringing out this book with so much details, timelines, and cross references. This is one of the best reads for me in the genre in recent times. --------------

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bilal Shakir

    Haqqani has written a well-researched book on an extremely timely subject with a sustained thesis that penetrates the entire book. However, I continue to remain thoroughly unconvinced. And few, who are aware of the ground realities in Pakistan, can blame me. For instance, consider Haqqani's treatment of Zardari -- who is painted as a pragmatic and cool-headed messiah and not even mentioned by his more popular nickname that is familiar to anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of Pakistani polit Haqqani has written a well-researched book on an extremely timely subject with a sustained thesis that penetrates the entire book. However, I continue to remain thoroughly unconvinced. And few, who are aware of the ground realities in Pakistan, can blame me. For instance, consider Haqqani's treatment of Zardari -- who is painted as a pragmatic and cool-headed messiah and not even mentioned by his more popular nickname that is familiar to anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of Pakistani politics, 'Mr. Ten Percent'. Americans --the politicians, intelligence agencies, and military generals -- are presented as hapless, even comically naive and altruistic. Unfortunately, as with many things written on Pakistan, the high rating is more a reflection of the author's effort and impressive collection of empirical materials than a marker of balanced and serious analysis.

  20. 4 out of 5

    G.

    The author seems to have the intellectual honesty to see the duplicity and double talk of Pakistani dictators and the populace at large and it's obsession with perceived Indian threat. He has the courage to raise the fundamental question of the raison-de-etre for existence of Pakistan and only hatred for India sustains this. This trajectory will eventually lead Pakistan, and probably most of South Asia, towards suffering of its people. All in all, an honest documentation subcontinent's recent hi The author seems to have the intellectual honesty to see the duplicity and double talk of Pakistani dictators and the populace at large and it's obsession with perceived Indian threat. He has the courage to raise the fundamental question of the raison-de-etre for existence of Pakistan and only hatred for India sustains this. This trajectory will eventually lead Pakistan, and probably most of South Asia, towards suffering of its people. All in all, an honest documentation subcontinent's recent history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angad Nagra

    Haqqani has written this comprehensive, well-researched history of the troubled U.S.-Pakistan relationship with an impressive level of clarity, objectivity and detachment. It's hard to be intellectually honest and disagree with his diagnosis of the various problems that plague that tortured relationship. Some of the most interesting developments he surveys are those that occurred during his various stints in Pakistan's government, including most recently as its ambassador to the U.S. Highly reco Haqqani has written this comprehensive, well-researched history of the troubled U.S.-Pakistan relationship with an impressive level of clarity, objectivity and detachment. It's hard to be intellectually honest and disagree with his diagnosis of the various problems that plague that tortured relationship. Some of the most interesting developments he surveys are those that occurred during his various stints in Pakistan's government, including most recently as its ambassador to the U.S. Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in South Asian geopolitics.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ashwin

    Husain Haqqani has successfully and in concise manner has written about history of Pakistan. How Pakistan's ambition to be a superpower and equal to India has lead to a situation where Army owns the Nation. The book also gives us glimpse of How US- Pakistan relationship has that of been love and hate. How Pakistan will fail as nation, if it fails to introspect and ask difficult questions like what kind of nation it want to be. Overall a good and easy read for those who want to know about USA-Pak Husain Haqqani has successfully and in concise manner has written about history of Pakistan. How Pakistan's ambition to be a superpower and equal to India has lead to a situation where Army owns the Nation. The book also gives us glimpse of How US- Pakistan relationship has that of been love and hate. How Pakistan will fail as nation, if it fails to introspect and ask difficult questions like what kind of nation it want to be. Overall a good and easy read for those who want to know about USA-Pakistan relationship.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Abhijit Joshi

    Two lessons from this book. 1. Rational Pakistani thinkers have the exact same opinion of Pakistan (a mistake and a tragedy) as that of rational Indian thinkers. 2. A small group of determined people can very easily make a super power like America do what they want it to do.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason Marz

    polemical and hypocritical account by an insider who happily played the Pakistani military's double game with the U.S. while he was Pak ambassador. does not mention his own role in feeding these magnificent delusions.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rich

    After recently reading a book about Iran, I'm floored that American has taken such a wildly different approach to Pakistan. They've outright undermined several US initiatives and should not be treated as an Alley. They are not nearly as important as they were once perceived.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    A little dry, but intensely interesting and relevant.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Prashant

    Classic example of dispassionate analysis.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yudhishtir

    One of my cherished memories involving my dad will be the political debates that drag through the night.It is totally another issue that somewhere in between they drift into a philosophical connotation. But during the course of the spar my father had made this remark a couple of times to me that" The nations behave just like human beings " . This behaviour is mostly the manifestation that gets portrayed through its leaders. And reading this book only substantiated his experiential observation fo One of my cherished memories involving my dad will be the political debates that drag through the night.It is totally another issue that somewhere in between they drift into a philosophical connotation. But during the course of the spar my father had made this remark a couple of times to me that" The nations behave just like human beings " . This behaviour is mostly the manifestation that gets portrayed through its leaders. And reading this book only substantiated his experiential observation for me. My first reference goes to how the Pakistani leaders often spelled a narrative of intrusive hatred from the neighbouring "Hindu nation" which they should be wary of and always be protecting the integrity of the nation at any cost against such an enemy. But out to the world they were the champions who fought for USA against the rising tide of soviet communism. It is very congruent to what we show the world and what we convince within to our consciousness. This did depict the fact that binding a nation through fear is a colossal blunder and leaders of the future should stay away from such notions if the literature review of history should be any reference. Hussain Haqqani who was the ambassador of Pakistan to US during the government of Asif Ali Zardari though exiled from his home state seeks shelter in the United states. The very nation that could have unintentionally spawned the creation of Islamic fundamentalist groups with perverse beliefs . The previous statement is of course debatable. Haqqani leaves no stone unturned with research to prove the instability of non shared interest relation , how Pakistan often leveraged its geo-political scenario to its own advantage at virtually no cost plus it hoped to keep its "enemy" at bay. It was akin to how a women keeps her man bound to her (don't take it the sexist way , women are powerful that way).And the US had to negotiate with the three moods of Pakistan which were again mutually against one other. It was the hopping of power between the civilian government, The army and the ISI which caused all the chaos and confusion. You could never make out who were supposed to appease and whom to manage and whom to subjugate. If US could ever have determined that Pakistan would have been a different nation altogether. And who were the victims of this play, the masses who often were kept blind before its too late or they were made to see what they wished to believe through the coerced media houses and propaganda programs. Surely the advent of technology will curb the double play that leaders may engage in. By the faster transmission of information the truth doesn't stay buried for long. The book also incited a thought in me. It is in the interest of the youth to learn the history of their nation more comprehensively. More often that not , the budding citizens of a nation are very quick to pronounce a black white judgement to many fundamental problems plaguing the society which is nothing but a pure lack of knowledge. What youth often fail to comprehend is that their nation was alive long before they were born and has breathed far more breaths in the form of leaders who have come to unite it. It is in the interest of the nation that it try to bridge this gap to progress with much faster pace and unison.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I do want to learn more about this, but it's ochin' stressovyi, if you, er, catch my drift. I have also been reading an article about Americans ranking which President as the greatest in their lifetime. I don't want to say what I think in case I get shot. I also hear the firing range down the road in operation right now, you see... I'm going to clear my browser history after I'm done with this, um, er, just in case. You never know... There are so many people with poppy things within a local proxi I do want to learn more about this, but it's ochin' stressovyi, if you, er, catch my drift. I have also been reading an article about Americans ranking which President as the greatest in their lifetime. I don't want to say what I think in case I get shot. I also hear the firing range down the road in operation right now, you see... I'm going to clear my browser history after I'm done with this, um, er, just in case. You never know... There are so many people with poppy things within a local proximity! It alarms me! OK! So! I've got the shivers and I don't think it has to do with that OR with how much tea I drink OR with my seizure condition. I think it has to do with this book, perusing all the details of what is happening between Pakistan and the US, as our diplomats try to eradicate long-held misconceptions held by both sides. I, too, have long tried learning the art and science of diplomacy, to help the people of the UN make headway in world peace. I went abroad to study this, even! My visa ran out before I got far. I can try again, but this time I have to be far more careful about playing with time zones.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Debabrata Roy

    I'd rate this book four stars if not for the value it provides in enlightening, hopefully, certain sections of the american foregin policy establishment about the blunders in their past. For that reason alone it gets five. This book is most valuable in the glimpses it gives you of the power structures in Pakistan. The nature of the Army as a the Sun in their solar system. It does things like trace the rise of ISI pretty well. It also provides you good highlights for major events in Pakistan sinc I'd rate this book four stars if not for the value it provides in enlightening, hopefully, certain sections of the american foregin policy establishment about the blunders in their past. For that reason alone it gets five. This book is most valuable in the glimpses it gives you of the power structures in Pakistan. The nature of the Army as a the Sun in their solar system. It does things like trace the rise of ISI pretty well. It also provides you good highlights for major events in Pakistan since independence. It'll make you acutely aware how much they value aid and how reliant they are on it. In many ways it's a very revealing book. As for why I was considering deducting that one star is mostly redability. Through no fault of the author who by and large does an excellent job, it can be tedious reading about the hundreth time Pakistan's leaders demand a better aid package. Also, if you're an Indian, and at least a moderately well informed one at that, most of its conclusions wouldn't come as any surprise to you. And you'd be aware of a lot of the events being recounted so certain parts of the book can feel boring. But then that could just be me. Overall, great book. I recommend it.

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