32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
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.
Why are you still reading this, buy it already!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A fundamental requirement of effective foreign policy is cultural competency: The ability to communicate in a way that meaning is not distorted when messages are translated across worldviews and political contexts. When communications are not assessed within the contexts from which they emerge, confusion can result. When one or both sides hears what they want to hear, however, it is not confusion, but delusion that results. As an advisor to two Prime Ministers and Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, Husain Haqqani saw first hand the dysfunction that can seep into international relations when one or both sides bases their foreign policy in delusion.
Husain Haqqani's first-hand experience in US-Pakistan relations notwithstanding, "Magnificent Delusions" is not a memoir, but a case study. Haqqani begins his examination of US-Pakistan relations before Pakistan's independence in 1947, and details a history of both sides hearing what they wanted to hear while ignoring the global and domestic political contexts in which events were unfolding.
Neither is the book a polemic against the US or Pakistan. From Secretary of State Dulles overlooking the eerily prescient observations of Ambassador Langley in the late 1950s to Pakistan's misunderstanding of the limits of US obligations in bilateral security agreements, Haqqani details a history in which both countries have developed foreign policy around a set of wishful assumptions rather than contextual analysis.
"Magnificent Delusions" serves as a point of reorientation for US-Pakistan relations, but it also provides an important case study to guide the development of other relationships as well.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
I was surprised by this book - it wasn't a 'my side of the story' book to explain the 'memogate' episode. Haqqani has really done justice to the title 'Magnificent Delusions' because nothing can encapsulate the relationship between Pakistan and USA then these two words. What really amazed me was that the flawed start to this relationship went all the way back to the birth of Pakistan. A lot of what he has written is uncomfortable reading for decision makers and the public both in the US and Pakistan. For me this is not a book that is selling an opinion - its a book to make you think. And it about time for both sides to take a pause and think what is going to be the basis of relationship between Pakistan and the USA in the future.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I thank Mr. Haqqani for an excellent review of the history that is very relevant to me personally. It is written very well and helped tremendously filling the gaps in my knowledge. Chapters explain history of relations between Pakistan and the United States chronologically starting from the very beginning.
Both of my parents' families moved to Pakistan from India to Sukkur, Sind upon partition witnessing the horrors of the century. I grew up reading mostly in Urdu language. Schools taught Islamiat and Pakistan Studies and did not encourage reading other than what selective little was in the textbooks. In early 1980s entire country's schools were mandated to be Urdu medium by president Zia-ul-haq. Saint Mary's high school Sukkur first built 125 years ago under British raj was transferred to the government authorities that led to its decline in not only quality of education but also in the overall structure and maintenance. Once I made a poster for my classroom about the history of Urdu language that was promptly removed by the teacher for being "out of course".
Being the only channel in the entire country, Pakistan television was main source for information. It showed the government authorities touring places and making statements about "qarar waqai saza" for rampant crimes. No one was ever caught or punished by the way. There was an "invisible outside" hand in everything. Century old Saint Mary's church was set on fire by a mob in 2005 over a Christian child writing something in a school paper that was considered blasphemous. Reading the book Magnificent Delusions helps understand how the country and its people reached this point.
As anyone can imagine being a medical student I was mostly busy studying. My personal life early on was hit by the tragedy of my father's death after a road accident and several surgeries. Looking back as a physician I believe if he were in America or any other developed country; he would have survived those injuries. As clearly depicted in Magnificent Delusions, the country is failing its citizens by not being able to keep them healthy and safe and provide basic needs. My father was a 33-year-old architect and the last building he built, Anwar Paracha Hospital is still serving people in Sukkur. If he had stayed alive, he could have done more in his career.
I have to agree with the author's view that Pakistan's government and army have been focused on acquiring funds and weapons from the US government and fighting India. If they had invested in the infrastructure and education of their people, the literacy rate would not have declined. As per recent BBC article, younger generations in the country have lower literacy rate as compared to elderly. Pakistan is moving back in time while the rest of the world is progressing. Despite of all the love they have for their religion and all the hate they have for America, Israel or India, they will need to see that the democracy and secularism is the way to the future and the real enemy is within. India has its own problems. Pakistan should have been a better neighbor so the poor on the other side could have better lives.
Unfortunately, it has become much more complicated in last 60 years. Country is not where it was in 1947. Population with its problems and oblivion has increased. Currently Pakistan is the largest growing country in the world. PTV is not the only channel. Internet has opened the doors to international information which can have some positive effect. Mullah radio caused havoc in Sawat. I don't know what the army leaders were thinking? May be only for them. It is however important to understand, the gap only grows so much before the French revolution.
Living a year in Kharian Cant with my uncle in Army I experienced the difference in use of resources by the army and civilians. My stepfather was a friendly talkative man and he probably didn't even notice when he asked an army officer on Rohri railway station travelling with his wife in the same box to keep an eye and help my friend. We were classmates in Medical school and she was travelling alone back to Lahore. She was an unhappy soul in Chandka Medical College, Larkana being selected as transfer student to promote friendliness between provinces. The army officer had a flat face, stepped back bothered by a civilian even talking to him and said nothing. There is clearly a sense of self-entitlement and superiority in Pakistan army. Working in Veterans Affair hospital and having family in US Marine I can see the difference between how servicemen are treated in these two countries. In the US they are normal and regular people as anyone else receiving only well-deserved services and benefits.
My family moved to America and I have watched Pakistan burn from the distance while witnessing the growing religiosity among Pakistani immigrants here in the US. The best thing for any Pakistani after leaving the country is the ability to read all the books that are banned there. I discovered "Train to Pakistan" soon after coming to the US in Oral Roberts University's five-story library in Tulsa. It was the first time I ever read anything from the other side. When we see from the distance with some perspective, things become clearer and start to make sense.
Obviously, Pakistan as a country has no respect or appreciation of its learned as we can see from the example of Dr. Abdul Salam. For Mr. Haqqani, being Harvard professor is definitely a better choice than being in the prison in Pakistan where people are kept in inhumane conditions. Pakistan is a country where poor women are incarcerated for religiously determined social crimes and murderers walk free.
When there was a back and forth about the promise of fighter jets from America, media was portraying as if Pakistan had paid money for them and America owes them those jets; which I know now after reading the book is not true. Mostly busy studying medicine but still remember looking at TV thinking why doesn't Pakistani government send few bright students to any University in the world and make their own F-16s in the future? Surely they are man made. I didn't know until reading this book that the dependence on foreign resources had started as early as Jinnah. Self-reliance and using own resources to grow within were never on the agenda. Mistakes have been made. The United States government and people are also responsible for feeding the monster. The more they have given, the more they have been hated. It's a vicious cycle that US needs to come out of. Nixon should have listened to Nehro to help improve lives of the poor than using them to fight wars. There is a proverb in Urdu language, "dushmani mol lena" meaning buying animosity. It seems to me that this is what inadvertently America has done.
After my father died, my 24-year-old mother of 4, 3 of them girls told us to study and work hard and stand on our own two feet. So here we are two physicians and one RN with a brother with business degree. I believe life teaches all, both individually and collectively. Are we ready to learn is the big question? Certainly the change begins with self.
Lubna Mirza, MD
Norman Endocrinology Associates
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a very good book written in fast passed style and to the point. I finished it in almost one sitting and did not find any hint of exaggeration or hidden agenda. In that sense he is in the same league as Najam Sethi, Ahmed Rash and other intellectuals from Pakistan. What is special about the author is that he appears to be a total product of the Pakistani education system which is a testimony to the great potential of this country if only there was a way to erase the obsession with India Those unfamiliar with the history of Pakistan his article in Foreign Affairs magazine (Breaking up is not hard to do -- March-April 2013) is recommended. It is a synopsis of the book and captures the essence of the subject well. However one feels that short of a major catastrophe (major internal terrorist attack, civil war with Baloch or Pashtuns) the grip of the ISI/Army will not loosen and Pakistan will remain mired in militarism and far from any nation building efforts. A modern, thriving Pakistan is very much needed in the neighborhood.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
In this day and age there is no better expert on US-Pakistan diplomatic relations that Husain Haqqani, ambassador of Pakistan from 2008-2011. In his latest book, Haqqani gives a detailed and objective explanation of the growth and development of the complex and important relationship between US and Pakistan. The book is indeed very insightful and further clarifies the brewing mistrust between the two countries. A must own for all students/academics, journalists and policy makers.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2013
Interesting book and I am sure would be particularly an interesting insight for diplomats, policy wonks and academics. But it wasn’t the book I thought it was when I purchased it. I saw the author on Charlie Rose and was fascinated by what he had to say about the forces (overwhelmingly) for and against an Islamic Pakistani state. So I was eager to follow-up with the book for in-depth coverage of the Pakistani national consciousness, which again is overwhelmingly defined and dominated by the desire to create an Islamic state, which is also the vision of the founding fathers, namely Muhammad Ali Jinnah and co.
In addition to being a born and bred Pakistani, a diplomat and an academic, the authors’ inside view of the Pakistani state makes him uniquely qualified to write about Pakistan. I am looking forward to reading about the inside forces in Pakistani, not so much its relations with America. Sure, I knew I was purchasing a book about Pakistan/US relations, but I assumed there would be some substantial coverage of the domestic forces for and against creating an Islamic state and how such an internal struggle shapes Pakistan’s foreign policy with the world and America. For those of us without deep knowledge of Pakistan, such a book would lay a foundation within which to understand Pakistan, including its foreign policy.
Overall though, still a fascinating book and a credible author, who wants the best for his native land, The United States and the world.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2013
Format: MP3 CDVerified Purchase
I saw this book reviewed on both a right-wing TV station (C-SPAN-2) and a left-wing TV station (GBS NEWSHOUR), and both were favorable reviews.
So much for "working together". The author, Haqqani, was the ambassador of Pakistan to first Sri Lanka, later to the United States. After an argument with Musharaff after 9/11, he left his native land and is now a professsor of Eastern Affairs at Boston College.
Haqqani certainly has a professorial grasp of Pakistani politics, and his central message is that Pakistan and America have both been the victims of longstanding and serious misunderstandings.
With over 180 million citizens, Pakistan is considerably more populous than Iran or Russia, both considered important in US foreign relations, while most of us Yankees barely know where Pakistan is.
Pakistan (with its eastern half now called Bangladesh), began its existence when India ceased to be a British colony in 1947. India was Hindu, and Pakistan Moslem.
The source of the basic misunderstanding is ignorance on the part of the US. (During the Eisenhower administration, an official said, "We need Pakistan and its Gurkha fighters to defend against the USSR, not realizing that Gurkhas are Nepali Hindus, not Pakistanis at all.)
Beginning after founder Ali Jinnah's death, Pakistan became an "Islamic Republic", whose main reason for existence was to defend itself from the "Hindu Imperialism" of India.
The main interest of the US was to make Pakistan an ally in our struggle against the communism of the USSR. Pakistani needed American money to arm itself for its many wars with India, and this need, combined with the personal friendship of several US presidents with the respective military dictators of Pakistan, resulted in much money going to Pakistan, and the leaders of the latter stringing the Americans duplicitously along.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has remained both poor and mired in Islamic struggles against Hindus, Sikhs, and Boluchi residents who tend to favor the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.
Although many sage minds thought the foundation of an "Islamic" state in former India was a mistake, the misunderstandings continue until this day.
Pakistan is presently in political turnmoil which makes America's politics seem simple by comparison.
But such a large and potentially rich country we ignore at our peril. A good start on our part would be to read this book!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a South Asia Watcher I have read a lot of books on Pakistan but this is a must read not only for Pakistan & India watchers but also for those who only want to find out about US-Pakistan relations. Haqqani has a reader-friendly style of writing, lots of anecdotes and a treasure of archival resources and material.
The book traces Pakistan's relations with the US from the 1940s onwards, explaining why Pakistan's founders sought ties with the US, what they wanted and what role the India factor played over the decades. The relationship of every American President & his administration with Pakistan's leaders is provided starting with Truman through Obama. The history of anti-Americanism is traced back to the 1940s and explained in detail. The views of every Pakistani president and prime minister and army chief are also laid out in detail and provide a great perspective on what they thought.
I enjoyed it and I know you will too....
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2014
Haqqani has written bitter truths what Pakistan govt and army has done to this country and what goo America has done in the history of this country. But he seemed hesitant to write about the damage done by the Bhutto family spacially by the rampant corruption and spoiling the institutions.