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

Pakistan and the U.S. have been allies since Pakistan’s birth in 1947, but the relationship has never been friction-free. The discovery of Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad exposed the schism that has long plagued what may be America’s most difficult external relationship. Opinion polls show that a majority of citizens in both countries do not trust each other. The U.S. increasingly sees nuclear-armed Pakistan, home to a growing Islamist insurgency, as a threat to its security. Pakistanis, on the other hand, believe the US has not been a trustworthy ally.

Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Husain Haqqani, who served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 to 2011, has spent many years researching and writing about his country’s complex political history. His important new book Magnificent Delusions carefully examines the self-limiting, India-focused “national narrative” cooperatively developed over the years by Pakistan’s insecure military-intelligence apparatus and fundamentalist religious groups. Haqqani offers an equally incisive analysis of the narrow security paradigm on which U.S. policy toward Pakistan has long been based, a paradigm fracturing as America confronts a terrorist enemy in the very Jihadist movement it once helped nurture during the Cold War—and a Pakistani military elite that many in Washington consider unwilling or unable to break ties with these Jihadists.

In Magnificent Delusions, Ambassador Husain Haqqani has produced a detailed and compelling explanation of longstanding obstacles to effective U.S.-Pakistani cooperation, and a timely warning about the increasingly adversarial course the two countries’ relationship may take in the future. Based on his own first-hand experience (and a rich trove of primary documents, many of them previously unpublished), Husain Haqqani’s new book is a must-read contribution to proper Western understanding of South Asia and of that region’s role in the sustenance and spread of global jihad.

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