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Jamal Hussain |

“Pakistan continues playing the victim card to reap maximum benefit from the US,” was the title of an article by Seema Sirohi in the Economic Times. The Economic Times is India’s leading business newspaper and Seema Sirohi is a senior Indian journalist based in Washington D.C. who writes on foreign policy. The background of the journal and the journalist makes it nothing more than an anti-Pakistani slant of the paper.

Only a handful of one-star Pakistani officers attend the NDU (USA) courses every year and for Seema to suggest that Pakistan can dictate to them about whom to invite or disinvite is absurd.

The justification of the title is built upon Pakistan denying visas to academics who do not toe the national line and by pressurizing the US institutions to deny space to the critics of Pakistan. According to Ms. Sirohi, “the Pakistan military even tries to coerce US military institutions, such as the prestigious National Defence University (NDU), to support this mendacity by blacklisting American and Pakistani scholars who drill holes in that narrative.” To support her premise the case of two eminent scholars, Ms. Christine Fair and the ex-Pakistani ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani who were dropped from certain NDU events or disinvited at the behest of Pakistan, is cited. The dropping of the two luminaries by NDU occupies the essence of the paper.

But for the sinister design of the author, Ms. Sirohi’s logic is almost laughable. If aliens unfamiliar with the current power equation prevalent in the globe were to read the synopsis, they would very likely place Pakistan as the superpower toying with the USA, the weakling. Only a handful of one-star Pakistani officers attend the NDU (USA) courses every year and for Seema to suggest that Pakistan can dictate to them about whom to invite or disinvite is absurd. Many Pakistanis would so hope the assertions by Seema Sirohi were actually true because it would suggest their nation has the necessary leverage to influence the foreign policies of even superpowers to modify them in their favor.

Read more: General McMaster creates a new worry for Pakistan

The real reason behind dropping Fair

A background of the two eminent scholars who were victims of Pakistan’s alleged interference would reveal the real reason why the two were dropped by NDU. Christine Fair, who was considered the darling of the Pakistan Army once, is now known for her anti-Pakistan/anti-Pakistan Army sentiments. Her earlier work on drones and her pro-drone stance and viewpoints has been denounced as “surprisingly weak” by Brooking Institution and journalist Glenn Greenwald dismissed it as “rank propaganda.” In 2011 and 2012 she received funding from the US embassy in Islamabad to conduct a survey on public opinion concerning militancy. Her journalistic sources have been questioned for their credibility and she has been accused of having a conflict of interest due to her past work with the US government think tanks, as well as the CIA. In the Pakistani media, she has been accused of double standards, partisanship towards India, and has been criticized for her contacts with dissident leaders from Balochistan, a link which raises serious questions “if her interest in Pakistan is merely academic.” (Hussain Jamal 2017)

Christine Fair’s temperament can be judged by the manner she treats even her academic colleagues who dare to hold an opinion contrary to her beliefs.

Elias Davidsson, a German with Icelandic nationality, in his article titled “Christine Fair – A True or Junk Scholar?” for the MWC News (21 May 2017) writes:

Christine Fair is widely quoted as an expert on South Asian political and military affairs. She is often requested by mainstream media to comment on terrorist acts occurring in India and Pakistan and invited to educate members of the US administration on issues in her field of expertise.

Prior to joining the Security Studies Program (SSP) within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, she served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, a political officer to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and as a senior research associate in USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. Her research focuses on political and military affairs in South Asia. Her proximity to intelligence services can be gauged by her membership in the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, Women in International Security, and the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. She serves on the editorial board of Current History, Small Wars and Insurgencies, Asia Policy, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and India Review. She is also a senior fellow with the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Is her reputation deserved?

Read more: Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US Joins hands to fight Daesh in the region

He goes on to cite seventeen incidents where Christine Fair was wrong or speaking half-truths. He concludes:

The above demonstration constitutes a warning. In the present case, a warning against the alleged scientific expertise of Christine Fair who readers might hear or see in media interviews. Persons presented by mass media as terror experts are more often than not academic [p……..] whose sole achievement resides in providing a scientific mantle to governmental criminal policies.

Christine Fair’s temperament can be judged by the manner she treats even her academic colleagues who dare to hold an opinion contrary to her beliefs. She has been accused of harassment of a former colleague, Asra Nomani after Nomani had written a column in the Washington Post explaining why she had voted for Donald Trump. The harassment came in the form of Tweets taking aim at Nomani with a series of emotionally charged profanity and insults that lasted 31 consecutive days. A former Georgetown professor who wrote an opinion article in support of President-elect Donald Trump has asked the university to intervene after a current Georgetown professor responded with insults and an obscenity on social media. On Nov. 22, Fair responded to the post on Twitter.

In a Dec. 28 follow-up letter to Irfan Nooruddin, a professor in Georgetown’s School for Foreign Service, Nomani said Fair has continued to criticize her on social media, calling her an “attention mongering crybully” among other insults.

“I’ve written you off as a human being,” Fair wrote in one message detailed in the complaint. “Your vote helped normalize Nazis in D.C. What don’t you understand, you clueless dolt?” Fair wrote, later adding: “YOU publicly voted for a sex assailant.” She went on to say that Nomani “pimped herself out to all media outlets because she was a ‘Muslim woman who voted for Trump.’ ”

In a Dec. 28 follow-up letter to Irfan Nooruddin, a professor in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, Nomani said Fair has continued to criticize her on social media, calling her an “attention mongering cry bully” among other insults. Is it any wonder the NDU is not particularly enamored by Ms. Fair’s academic credentials and her social conduct.

Haqqani’s story

A brief resume of the other academic “giant” the veritable Hussain Haqqani, Seema has relied heavily upon to malign Pakistan would be in order.

The resume of Hussain Haqqani, the ex-Pakistani ambassador to the USA, appears to have all the seven colors of the rainbow. The gentleman began his political career as a student in Karachi University when he joined the Islami Jamiat e Talaba, the student wing of Jamat e Islami (JI) and rose to become the president of the student union. At the national level, his political life started when he became a supporter of Zia ul Haq, the military dictator. On the demise of Zia in 1988, he worked in the political campaign in an alliance led by Zia’s protégé Nawaz Sharif and was considered the architect of the smear campaign unleashed against Benazir. When Nawaz Sharif was elected as the Prime Minister, Haqqani became Sharif’s special assistant and until 1992, when the Nawaz Sharif’s government was dismissed, Haqqani functioned as his spokesman and was elevated as the youngest ever Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka.

Read more: Was Ambassador Haqqani implementing the policy or making it?

The chequered and multifaceted career of Hussain Haqqani would make a chameleon proud. His ability to switch sides from one extreme to the other can only be marveled at but for the destructiveness, it leaves in its wakes.

When Benazir Bhutto, the arch enemy, and nemesis of Nawaz Sharif, regained the slot of the Prime Minister, Haqqani now became her spokesman with the rank of a minister of state. After the fall of Benazir’s second stint as the PM in 1997, Haqqani founded a consulting company Communications Research Strategies (CRS) and later on started a career in the academic field. In 2008, when the PPP under Zardari took over the reins of government in the country, Haqqani was appointed as the Pakistan ambassador in the USA, the topmost slot in the nation’s diplomatic field. Following the Memogate scandal in 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign and subsequently has taken up permanent residence in the USA. Currently, he is a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. In USA’s academic circles, he is considered the leading Pakistani South Asia expert.

The chequered and multifaceted career of Hussain Haqqani would make a chameleon proud. His ability to switch sides from one extreme to the other can only be marveled at but for the destructiveness, it leaves in its wakes. While he has been able to fool the political bigwigs of Pakistan at will, the Pakistani military has seen through his shenanigans. After his fallout with the Pakistan Army, especially after the Memogate incident, he has firmly ensconced himself with India.

Hussain Haqqani is the quintessential Pakistani version of Ahmed Chalabi of Iraq. Chalabi was the Iraqi dissident who had fled the country when it was under the rule of Saddam and his testimony to the CIA about the alleged WMDs in Iraq was one of the key inputs that led George Tenet, the former CIA Director, calling the intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s WMD as “slam dunk”. Poor Hussain Haqqani, his current tirade against Pakistan and the Pakistan Army has led to his principal benefactor, Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP co-chairperson and the PPP to completely disown him.

Nationalism and loyalty are honorable traits but when falsehood and untruths are relied upon to malign an adversary, the end result is just the opposite. Ms. Fair and Hussain Haqqani have chosen a particular path for reasons they are better able to explain — a path that has endeared them to a few but has lowered them beyond redemption in the academic circles. Ms. Seema Sirohi is apparently a well-respected journalist and if she continues to base her policy papers on the vitriolic of Ms. Fair and Hussain Haqqani, she is likely to end up in the same heap as her sources.

Air Commodore (retd) Jamal Hussain has served in Pakistan Air Force from 1966 to 1997. He was awarded Sitara-e-Basalat for his services in the year 1982. He regularly contributes articles on defense-related issues in the Defence Journal from Pakistan, Probe Magazine (Dhaka – Bangladesh) and Dawn, The News, and The Nation English Dailies from Pakistan. He is the author of two books on ‘Air Power in South Asia’ and ‘Dynamics of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia’. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Air Commodore (retd) Jamal Hussain has served in Pakistan Air Force from 1966 to 1997. He was awarded Sitara-e-Basalat for his services in the year 1982. He regularly contributes articles on defense-related issues in the Defence Journal from Pakistan, Probe Magazine (Dhaka – Bangladesh) and Dawn, The News, and The Nation English Dailies from Pakistan. He is the author of two books on ‘Air Power in South Asia’ and ‘Dynamics of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia’.

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