During his talk Ambassador Hussain acknowledges past tension between the countries, but holds out hope for improvement, pointing out Pakistan’s recent elections and subsequent change in leadership as a source of hope for a new relationship with the US. He is also very firm in his message that such a relationship is necessary for the cause of promoting peace, stating: “the need for a new relationship has never been greater. The two countries continue to face challenges that neither can solve alone.” Ambassador Hussain also talks in depth about the many forces at work in Pakistan, including nationalism, religion, uneven wealth distribution, and foreign pressures that led to the strained US-Pakistani relationship that we see today. He goes on to identify what each country must realize about the other in order for the relationship to improve.
For Pakistan, he states that the government must understand the US’ desire for relationships with Pakistan’s neighbors, India and China, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and security of existing weapons, and concerns about terrorism. He also urges Pakistani policy makers to better communicate to the US why they make the decisions they do. In this way, even if US policy makers do not agree with Pakistan’s actions, they will hopefully understand why those actions were taken, providing less frustration and greater understanding between the two countries. The Ambassador claims that in years past, Pakistani silence on policy making has given the impression to Americans that Pakistan does not care about American interests and is doing nothing to help the US achieve its goals in the region, a notion which is completely untrue. Ambassador Hussain also stresses the need for Pakistan to to improve domestic stability, citing the need for improved governance, the strengthening and streamlining of economic institutions, and the need to address Pakistan’s energy crisis. Turning the spotlight on the United States, the Ambassador goes over what the US can do to help itself and Pakistan achieve their mutual goals. According to Hussain, the United States must understand that its military operations have had a major effect on Pakistani civilians, and have led to a negative perception of Americans within Pakistan. This has served to weaken US influence in the region, and according to the Ambassador, “without influence, the United States can not help Pakistan”. He ends the discussion on the controversial issue of drone use. The Ambassador states that he “takes no position on legal and moral aspects of drone use” but does express his belief that the military gains of drone use should be weighed against the political losses it can lead to. He believes that the future of US drone policy in Pakistan is such that either drones must become accepted by Pakistani civilians or that drones will no longer be necessary, but for as long as drones are active within Pakistan against the will of the public, it will continue to anger Pakistanis and perpetuate anti-American sentiment within the region.
Ambassador Touqir Hussain is a former senior diplomat from Pakistan, having served as Ambassador to Brazil, Spain and Japan (1998 – 2003). Ambassador Hussain held senior positions in the Pakistani Foreign Office, including that of Additional Foreign Secretary heading the bureaus of the Middle East and of the Americas and Europe. From 1996 to 1998 Ambassador Hussain was the Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister, where he had the opportunity to work with a range of foreign policy issues at the highest level
Ambassador Touqir Hussain moved to the United States in 2003. Since then he has been pursuing an academic career. He was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace( 2004-2005) and Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Globalization George Washington University ( 2006-2010). Currently he is the Senior Pakistan Visiting Fellow at SAIS Johns Hopkins University and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and the Syracuse University ( Washington DC campus).Earlier he had also taught at the University of Virginia Charlottesville.
Ambassador Hussain’s overall specialization is South Asian security issues, the Kashmir dispute, U.S Pakistan relations, civil military relations, democracy in the Islamic world, political Islam, terrorism, and US relations with the Islamic world. Ambassador Hussain has written nearly thirty op-ed pieces for US and Pakistani newspapers on some of these issues.
Ambassador Hussain has been a guest speaker at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville; American University, Washington DC; The George Washington University, Washington DC; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond; the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management, Dayton, Ohio; The National Defense University, Washington DC; The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA; and the World Affairs Council, Peoria, IL.
The talk was moderated by Professor James Witte