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Foreign Affairs Media Call: Husain Haqqani on Elections in Pakistan

Speaker: Husain Haqqani, Former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States
Presider: Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs, and Peter G. Peterson Chair, Foreign Affairs
May 13, 2013
Council on Foreign Relations

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OPERATOR: I'd now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Gideon Rose. Sir, please begin.

GIDEON ROSE: Hi, everybody, and welcome to another conference call with Foreign Affairs. We are very lucky today to have with us Husain Haqqani, one of the world's great experts, to discuss the recent elections in Pakistan and what they mean for a whole variety of issues. Husain Haqqani -- these days he's professor of international relations at Boston University and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He of course served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States in 2008 to 2011, the author of a wonderful article in Foreign Affairs recently called "Breaking Up is Not Hard to Do: Why the U.S.- Pakistani Alliance isn't Worth the Trouble," which, by the way, will be a big book in the fall, so look forward to that.

Husain, let's get right to it. OK, so turnout in this election seems to have broken records. There are some allegations of fraud, but not enough to discredit the result. How should we think about this election, and how is it like previous elections?

HUSAIN HAQQANI: First of all, we must never forget the maxim that all politics is local. So go into the detail -- Pakistan has four very distinct regions with different ethnicities. Turnout was 80 percent in Punjab, which is Mr. Nawaz Sharif's home base and also Mr. Imran Khan's in some ways. But it was extremely low in Baluchistan, as low as 20 percent according to election commission figures and 5 percent according to private observers.

So we must see this through the color of Pakistan's ethnic fragmentation, Pakistan's urban-rural divide. And basically, yes, maladministration, corruption, et cetera, were issues, but very frankly, people were thinking in terms of is it my guy whose corruption I am bothered by or is it the other guy's. And then of course there was Mr. Imran Khan trying to be Mr. Clean in Pakistan's politics, but even he did not venture beyond Punjab, didn't run seriously in Baluchistan or Sind.

I personally see that there's a lot more subtext in this election that is being missed out primarily because everybody covering it is based in Islamabad. And Islamabad is an artificial city that only represents the Pakistani military's worldview, the Pakistani civil service's worldview and the Pakistani elites' worldview. We will see a lot more trouble down the road even though there has been a clear mandate given to Mr. Nawaz Sharif by the province of Punjab.

ROSE: OK. So Nawaz Sharif will appoint the next government. What's he going to do this time that he didn't do when he was in power in the 1990s?

HAQQANI: We don't know. He says he want goods -- he wants good relations with India. He said that in 1990 but then had helped set up Laskhar-e-Taiba. He said that in 1997, and Kargil took place on his watch. Well, whatever he might say that he didn't know about it and Musharraf did it on his own, if you go back and even look at the clippings at that time, he was the prime minister, and he was leading the charge. If you talk to people like Strobe Talbott, they will be even less upbeat on Mr. Sharif than I am because they dealt with him during that period. He seemed pretty clueless.

So has he really clued in over the period? It's something that is -- in my opinion something that has a question mark over it. He will say he wants good relations with the United States, and there are individual Americans with whom he has very good relations, some of them in your State Department. Similarly, he will go ahead and engage with India. But will he really crack down on the hard-line groups, many of whom campaigned for him and supported him in this election? I'm not so sure.

ROSE: OK. So the PPP and the PTI each got maybe an eighth of the votes. How is Sharif going to manage ties with them, either of which or both of which could end up leading the opposition?

HAQQANI: Both of those parties, as you noted, got one-eighth of the seats, but they did get a substantially larger share of the -- of popular vote, perhaps. And the PPP remains strong in the south of the country, in Sindh. Imran Khan's PTI has picked up seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, essentially, many of those seats were seats of the MMA -- if you remember, the Islamist alliance that won a majority in that province in 2002. He may be able to form the provincial government.

And that will create a problem for Mr. Sharif. He will have to deal with a different party in charge in each province of the country. So managing Pakistan's ethnic tensions, managing Pakistan's various regional aspirations and then, in case of the PTI, managing the PTI's very hard-line stance against any involvement in the war against terror will be difficulties for Mr. Sharif.

ROSE: OK. So the Islamist parties appear not to have gained much ground. Why not?

HAQQANI: Well, first of all, people do an over- simplification on Islamism in Pakistan. There is Islamism, which is hard-core, organized, structured Islamist parties, especially the Jamaat-e-Islami. But then there is what I would call Islamo- nationalism, meaning same argument, same ideas, but without the beards and without insisting that our wives cover themselves fully up -- the slightly more modern people but with Islamist, semi-Islamist aspirations, and definitely an Islamist worldview, people who think bin Laden did nothing wrong on 9/11, people who believe America should be out of all the Muslim world, people who think many of Pakistan's problems are Pakistan's fault.

And that Islamo-nationalism has succeeded because Imran Khan and PTI definitely represent part of that in their rhetoric, and the PML-N of Mr. Sharif also appeals to that kind of reasoning, although they tried to subdue that a little bit more this time, trying to appear a little more conservative. So we must see it in the context of, say, for example, Turkey where the AKP is not Islamist, but it is -- it has Islamist roots, and I think that both the PML and the PTI have some Islamist sentiment reflected in them.

And so yes, the hard-core Islamists haven't taken over, so this was not Mohammed Morsi coming to power, but can they be completely discounted? Not necessarily. In fact, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan -- the North-West Frontier Province -- what used to be the North-West Frontier Province -- we end up with a PTI-JI government, meaning the PTI will form the government, but it will have to do it with the help of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Islamist party. So they will be a nuisance, as they have been for Pakistan for a long time.

The problem with this election that everybody is missing out is that Taliban forbid the three liberal parties -- the MQM, the -- the MQM, the PPP and the ANP -- from campaigning and threatened them and actually did conduct terrorist attacks on their rallies, which suppressed the vote that was sympathetic to those three parties. Now, I'm not saying that the past coalition was not ineffective; it was. There was definitely corruption, and more important, there was maladministration, and people felt the country wasn't being adequately governed. But there would have been at least some people who would have said, you know what? Come hell or high water, the one thing I'm not doing is working for the other side.

And those people were definitely discouraged by the prospect of the polling station being bombed.

ROSE: OK. Imran Khan spoke out about drones, which probably helped him. Nawaz Sharif also spoke out against the drone program at times. He's also vowed better ties with the United States. So how is Sharif going to strike a balance in U.S.-Pakistani relations on these issues?

HAQQANI: The Pakistani leaders have often done it, engaging with your diplomats and officials, giving them reassurances in private but actually not doing anything substantive, hoping that American optimism overcomes American skepticism. Look, Nawaz Sharif, the last time he was prime minister, he persuaded the Clinton administration that he'd help create a task force to go in and get Osama bin Laden without disturbing the Taliban regime. And I don't know what kind of people actually bought into it, but the Americans did give Pakistan money to try and create that task force. So will he come up with clever ideas like that this time too? I think that, yeah, it would probably happen.

Substantially we must understand that Pakistan's overall mood is one of America needs to help us or we have nothing else to do to help America. And I think that that mood needs to be recognized in Washington. That was the subject of my article in Foreign Affairs. I still stand by that. I don't think Mr. Sharif will make any substantive changes in Pakistani policy to accommodate the Americans, while reassuring them that he wants good relations, and he will hope that American optimism will make the American administration engage with him positively and give some more assistance and support to Pakistan.

ROSE: OK. How significant a step is this election in general away from the military-dominated politics of Pakistan's past?

HAQQANI: It is definitely an important step in that direction. I think Pakistan is maturing in that direction. I think the military is realizing it can't take over directly anymore. I think the civilians are recognizing that they need to just go to the people instead of working together with the military. So none of the major political parties really appeal to the military, although I'm a little concerned that the protests that the PTI is starting to organize against alleged election rigging in some parts of the country may balloon into something bigger, because after all, the PTI does have a lot of support. In almost every military garrison town, the PTI has won overwhelmingly, which means that retired and serving military people have overwhelming sympathy for Imran Khan's world view.

That said, I don't think the military's coming back anytime soon. And in that sense, this election is a move forward.

Sharif has a very complex relationship with the military. He agrees on a lot of things with the military's world view. He does not agree with the military's right to take over the country, and certainly not when he's in power. So you must remember he was a protege of General Zia-ul-Haq, but he confronted Pervez Musharraf. If he goes ahead, as has been his personality, you must remember he can be very vindictive with his opponents and his critics. If he decides to make an example of Musharraf, there will be tensions with the military. But if he lets Musharraf go into Saudi exile like Musharraf let him go, then I think he will start working with the military and will try to find some common ground.

Sharif is essentially a Punjabi capitalist. He wants enough capitalism to expand. He's a free marketeer. He wants to privatize. He wants people to be able to make money. But he's also a personally religious conservative, and he still believes in the two-nation theory which was the foundation of Pakistan, that somehow Pakistan has to have an Islamic identity, unlike the MQM, the PPP and the ANP, who have come to the point that, hey, Islam is important to us individually, but you know what? We need to move on as a secular country.

So really this vote is very much for an Islamic identity for Pakistan, even though it doesn't appear to be so.

ROSE: OK, I'm going to throw it open to our questioners in one second, but I just want to take one last question. What about relationship with India? What does this spell, and what can we expect in terms of the subcontinent?

HAQQANI: I think Nawaz Sharif will move to have relatively better relations with India, at least at a superficial level, you know -- cricket matches, cultural exchanges, speaking to Punjabis in Punjabi, on the Indian side. But strategically, will he say, you know what, let's put Kashmir on the back burner and move forward? I don't see that happening. Will he say that we need to actually implement the Most Favored Nation agreement that the PPP reached, which has been held in a sort of, you know, limbo by the military?

I don't think so because there are some economic interests in Pakistan that require good relations with India. The cement industry, in which Mr. Sharif and many of his cronies do have a major stake, really wants to be able to sell cement to India because there's nowhere else to sell it easily.

So, yes, they would want some of those things, but will they really throw open trade and throw open the borders, as some people in the past have suggested? Or will he go as far, as Asif Zardari at one point said before he was totally intimidated by the military -- he said that maybe we need to discuss a no-first-use of nuclear weapons agreement with India? He won't. And so we will have a kind of a hug- hug, embrace-embrace, but no substantial changed attitude towards India.

ROSE: OK, with that, let's throw this open to our callers, who -- a large and distinguished group of them.

OPERATOR: Yes, sir. (Gives queuing instructions.)

Our first question is from Judith Miller with Manhattan Institute.

QUESTIONER: Hi, Husain. Excellent presentation, as usual.

What do you imagine happening at this point, in terms of relations and negotiations with the Taliban -- you know, obviously, an important sticking point with the Americans?

HAQQANI: Well, I think that the problem in case with the negotiations with the Taliban is not what Pakistan wants or what the Americans want, but what the Taliban wants. And the Taliban do have their own views. And their view of negotiation has always been fulfill our demands and we will -- we have a successful negotiation.

Secondly, there are Taliban who probably are preparing for the fight inside Afghanistan for when the Americans leave. They think that while the Americans were there, it was difficult for us to fight them; let's just wait out the Americans. So once American troop levels really come down to 10,000, as it was being said, then they can really -- (inaudible) -- in some of the countrysides, especially the areas adjacent to the Pakistani border.

Can the Pakistani civilian government pull them back? I don't think so. And will the ISI and the Pakistani military want to pull them back? Maybe, but even they during the negotiation -- and especially the part that I was part of -- they always told the Americans: Look, we can facilitate you guys coming to the table together, but we cannot influence the decisions of the Taliban. To which Americans used to say, well, then, you know, what kind of facilitators are you if you cannot influence the people you call your friends and your, you know, acquaintances? So I don't see that getting anywhere.

Look, I mean, Americans -- and as a non-American, I can make a comment at the risk of offending some people on this phone call -- Americans have their own view of other countries and societies, you know, like everybody is like us; should come to terms with the same kind of things that matter to us. To some people, that doesn't happen. We saw that with the Viet Cong. I mean, they negotiated for a long, long time and the purpose of the negotiation was to facilitate the military success. I think that any Taliban strategy of negotiating with America will be similar to that and not based on actually signing a peace treaty and then walking into Kabul sort of listening to Billy Joel on the CD.

QUESTIONER: (Laughs.) Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you.

Our next question comes from Trudy Rubin with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

QUESTIONER: Hi, Husain, thanks so much for doing this.

Sorry I missed a little bit at the beginning, but what do you expect that Nawaz will do with talks with the Pakistani Taliban and also with groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or any of the groups that were trying to (flood ?) in Kashmir?

HAQQANI: Well, I think that he will -- he may request some of these groups to kind of lie low, et cetera. But I do not see -- I just do not see him arresting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, for example. I don't see him moving against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, many of whose people actually ran in elections this time -- and in some cases, with female supporters, some cases, against -- it was all very local. I personally feel that he will go sort of -- he will say all the right things. But the more fundamental thing is will he actually say: We need to fight these people.

The key will be, will he actually tell the Pakistani public that their view of all of this is a bit mistaken, that we didn't become a terrorist-infested nation just because we became America's allies against the Soviet Union, that we actually have a local problem, that there are people with certain beliefs within our society who are attacking our society to be able to take it over?

And there may be some kind of appeasement and accommodation. He has very good relations with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the source of financing for a lot of these groups, whether through individuals or institutions within the country or charities. So he may want to negotiate with them and try and kind of find a combination similar to the one that the Saudis had with their clerics, which will work well for Pakistan in the short term.

But deep down, what Pakistan really need is somebody to stand up and say this is a problem, and this is a much bigger problem. And it's not just about the fact that they set off bombs, but it's also that they have a belief system that makes them want to set up bombs. And for now, for now -- I mean, he may change, he may just surprise us all, and he may really do very different things, but so far, I don't think that he will go beyond accommodation and -- I'm avoiding the word appeasement, but some kind of appeasement to try and get some security.

Look -- he did that in Punjab. He made an arrangement with these groups. They attacked in Sindh, they attacked in Baluchistan, they attacks in Pakhtunkhwa; they did not attack in the region that he controlled during the last government. Could that be the model for a whole country in the future? Yeah, absolutely. You know, cut kind of deals and say, you know, hold on to the money, do it later, don't attack right now.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Shaun Tandon with AFP.

QUESTIONER: Thanks for doing the call. Ambassador Haqqani, an issue that you've written about in the past, the relations with the military, you touched upon this a little bit earlier, whatever relationship do you think Sharif would have with the military? Do you think -- first of all, would interests coincide, but do you think that there could potentially be some disagreements and some -- what's the nature of the relationship you would see between those two power centers?

HAQQANI: Well, Sharif, of course, is coming to this with a stronger hand and some experience from the past. He has been a protege of the military. He has had an altercation with a military chief, Pervez Musharraf. So he may actually move a little more strongly to assert civilian control over the military.

But how far he will go? Will he actually punish or want to punish General Musharraf or at least humiliate him for having overthrown him? And what reaction that has in the military? Those are all unanswered questions. But he will definitely try to assert himself far more than our civilian rulers have, including him in his previous incarnation.

I think that the Pakistani military has to understand that it cannot be completely in charge anymore. That said, the military does have other means of influencing civilian decision-making -- manipulation of public opinion, influencing smaller political parties and groups and their behavior and thereby influencing the behavior of the major party. When history will get written, people will understand that a lot of that already happened in case of the previous government. When Mr. Zardari took over as president, he was much more clear about how he's going to go about doing things. But whether it was control over the ISI, whether it was control over Afghan policy, whether it was control over U.S. policy and whether it was control over India policy, in all areas he was pushed back. But he wasn't pushed back with a barrel of a gun; he was pushed back by manipulation of public opinion and domestic politics, and the military still has that privilege.

QUESTIONER: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Meredith Buel, Voice of America.

QUESTIONER: Ambassador Haqqani, good morning. It's good to hear your voice again. I wanted to ask you about the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the impact you think that's going to have during the period on Mr. Sharif's government, and a follow-up on the drone situation. Do you think there will be any change in American- Pakistani policy toward the use of drones, which Mr. Sharif says he is opposed to, or do you think that things will continue as they are now?

HAQQANI: Well, look. I mean, I don't know how Mr. Sharif will implement his opposition.

He can turn around and say, we don't like the drones, but that Pakistan has been saying for a while. He can turn around and say, we will not allow any drones to operate out of Pakistan. That has already been implemented. The Shamsi Base from which the drones used to operate has been shut down.

What can he do if the Americans operate drones from Afghanistan is my question. So I think this will remain in the -- in the rhetorical realm rather than in the substantive realm. But the U.S. will obviously consider all factors in its drone policy. Are there -- you know, there is already a lot of debate about drones here and in Europe, and all of that will influence American drone policy. But I think that the drone issue is a Washington issue, not an Islamabad issue.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Claudia Rosett with Forbes.com.

QUESTIONER: Ambassador, thank you. My question is about China. Could you factor in to this scene -- where does China fit? And in the jockeying that's going on for influence and so on, what should we be taking into account there?

HAQQANI: China has very long-term strategic relations with Pakistan -- its military and intelligence services, and it has managed, unlike the Americans, to keep a very positive image for itself within the country. China is not going to get deeply involved; it has never given more than a substantive -- more than a reasonble level of economic assistance to Pakistan; it has always demanded its pound of flesh in terms of contracts and business opportunities. It will now be -- (inaudible) -- running the seaport in Gwadar on the Baluchistan coast. So it will keep its -- it will keep its low-key but high-value engagement with Pakistan, and Mr. Sharif is certainly not going to disrupt it.

Mr. Sharif, of course, among global powers, is closest to Saudi Arabia. I mean, he has lived in Saudi Arabia in exile; several princes call him their brother. He calls them their brother. But other than that, his worldview is very much that of the Pakistani establishment. America for the money, China for the strategic alliance, India as an enemy that you want to outmaneuver since you cannot beat it in direct military confrontation, and Afghanistan an extension of Afghanistan's strategic -- sort of regional strategic depth. I don't think he's very different on that score from anyone else.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Ali Iftikhar with the Associated Press of Pakistan.

QUESTIONER: Haqqani Sahab (ph), good to hear your voice. You were an adviser of Nawaz Sharif in the past. Do you -- are you in contact with him, and do you have any plans to go back and serve him?

HAQQANI: No to the latter part. And if you recall -- I mean, since you talk about -- I have not had a relationship or interaction with Mr. Sharif since 1992, so that's about 21 years. And I was also -- I also had the privilege of being one of the many people that Mr. Sharif put into prison in 1999, so I don't think that there is going to be particular enthusiasm on either side. We have a very civil relationship -- we've met a couple of times in between; we've spoken to each other. But I don't think there is any personal equation or relationship here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will come from Sabahat Ashraf with iFaqeer Communications.

QUESTIONER: (Inaudible) -- Haqqani Sahab (ph); this is Sabahat from California. I wanted to ask how you see the whole project of setting up, within Pakistani society, an alternative to the right-wing, rightist or Islamist narrative -- what movements, and how do you see that evolving in the future or in the immediate future, rather?

HAQQANI: I think that's more of an internal Pakistan discussion, which many of the people on this call may not necessarily be interested in. But look, Pakistan has moved in a direction in which -- Pakistan has had a major, major problem in nation-building, going back to 1948. The country was achieved out of -- it was carved out of British India, and then what is Pakistan and what is it there for? Many of us, of course, are -- we were born in Pakistan; we are Pakistanis by birth, but that question has still (rancor ?). I hope that there can be a path forward for Pakistan in which people say we are Pakistanis because we are Pakistanis.

We don't need a raison d'etre, an ideological basis for it. But it's an overwhelming view that Pakistan needs an ideological basis, and usually people trace that to Islam. And so we can find that strongly right now. There have been secular alternative visions for Pakistan, but they have often suffered. And my view, which is documented in my previous book, "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military," is that the Pakistani military has supported that view as a means of compensating for the difference between the size and the fighting power of the -- of India and Pakistan. So they have actually created a tripod paradigm: Islam as the national unifier, India as the eternal enemy and the West as the economic source of support. And I think that that paradigm has really become far stronger now than it has ever been because the secular groups have simply failed to create a narrative.

But it's really difficult to create a parallel narrative in a country where there are dozens of television stations but all of them say the same thing. And people are taught the same thing at schools and colleges, and so you really cannot have an open debate. Anybody who comes up and says, I want a secular Pakistan is immediately branded a traitor or an unbeliever. The number of people who've been targeted for that -- (inaudible) -- killed just for saying that he wants to review the blasphemy laws that are already there. So it does make it very difficult. If you do want to start as a Pakistani- America, if you do want to start some project of that nature, think it through and look at its various dimensions, including personal security.

ROSE: Thank you. Our next question comes from -- (name inaudible) -- with the Washington Times.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Mr. Haqqani. Thanks for doing this call. I wanted to ask you, what does a Sharif government mean for Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan? At the provincial level, does having a PTI/Jamaat-led government in KPK complicate that relationship in any way? Thank you.

HAQQANI: I feel that in the immediate future Pakistan's current approach to Afghanistan will endure. I don't think Mr. Sharif has ever articulated a very nuanced review of Afghanistan. So he certainly wants the Americans to leave Afghanistan. He still wants Pakistan to have influence over Afghanistan. He -- his last government did support the Taliban enthusiastically. You must remember Benazir Bhutto's support for Sharif -- for the Taliban was there, but she did not recognize the Taliban as the lawful government of Afghanistan; Mr. Sharif's government did. So -- and he doesn't have the personal relationship with President Karzai or Afghan leaders that President Zardari did. So I think Afghanistan will be one of those areas where policy will still be made by the Pakistani military.

ROSE: Thank you. Our next question will come from Olivia Ward with the Toronto Star.

QUESTIONER: Hello, Ambassador. My question is pretty simple. Do you think that this election will change in any way the stability or instability of the region?

HAQQANI: Look, usually immediately after elections people are supposed to be optimistic, so I should say that, you know, there is an opportunity for changing the stability of the region as it has built up this election. But every subquestion that I examine makes me think that it won't. Already I'm seeing ethnic pressures building up in Pakistan because of the voting patterns. So that's not going to change.

The terrorist groups within Pakistan, will they stop -- I mean, will, for example, the Sunni extremist terrorist groups in Pakistan stop attacking Shias just because Pakistan has a new government? I don't think so. Similarly, the hard-core Kashmiri extremist groups in Pakistan: Are they going to stop thinking about "liberating" Kashmiri by force just because -- "liberating" with inverted commas -- just because there is a new government? I don't think that's happening. Will Pakistan actually prosecute the Mumbai suspects just because of the new election? I don't see that happening. Will there be genuine accountability and a clear explanation of what was Osama bin Laden doing in Pakistan and how was he there and who supported him? I can't see that happening either. And will anti-Americanism in Pakistan subside? That's unlikely, too.

So, really, what has changed is the internal dynamic of Pakistan. People didn't like the government that was in office. This was an election on local issues. I don't think that the regional and international role of Pakistan is going to change that much as a result of an election that reflects local Pakistani politics.

ROSE: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. As a reminder -- (gives queuing instructions).

Our next question comes from -- (inaudible) -- with Firstpost.

QUESTIONER: Mr. Haqqani, good morning. Wonderful to hear you. I wanted to ask you about post-2014. Do you think the U.S. should change its policy post-2014 since that presents an opportunity to sort of wean Pakistan off aid and the kind of policy U.S. has been pursuing? Thanks.

HAQQANI: Look, post-2014 -- and, first of all, we should be clear about what American objectives are. American objectives should be to make sure that neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan provide a safe haven for global terrorist groups and that Afghanistan has a stable government that is at peace with Pakistan and vice versa.

So, those objectives -- of course the United States has to work towards whether it has a strong military presence in Afghanistan or not. In fact, the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan might actually take away one of the excuses. It is not the reason; it's an excuse that some people use for why there is a violence against the Afghan government and against the U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

But, very frankly, I'm one of those who believes that the violence stems from the belief system and ideology of these people, and that won't change because of American withdrawal. So, the longer- term issue here is with the people who are prone to violence because of their beliefs. Will they decline in influence in Afghanistan after the American withdrawal or not? And I don't think that will happen. American policy should still be to try and figure out how both countries can find an equilibrium in which the extremists do not have the strength that they have.

ROSE: Thank you. Our next question comes from Matthew Lee with Inner City Press.

QUESTIONER: Sure. Thanks a lot for doing this call. I cover the U.N., so I just wanted to know -- it might be a smaller footnote to what you've been saying -- but do you anticipate any changes given the election on Pakistan's positions in the U.N. on issues like Syria or Afghanistan, Sudan, continued participation in peacekeeping? Do you see any impact on that?

HAQQANI: I don't think so.

QUESTIONER: So these things remain constant between the two?

HAQQANI: Yeah, I think -- I think that Pakistan's foreign office will continue business as usual on the issues in relation to the U.N.

QUESTIONER: OK, thanks.

ROSE: Ladies and gentlemen, as a reminder -- (gives queuing instructions).

OK, our next question comes from Garrett Mitchell with The Mitchell Report.

QUESTIONER: Hello? Ambassador, I'm not sure -- my phone cut out just then, but then I think he called on me. I'm Garrett Mitchell from The Mitchell Report.

I wondered if you could tell us a bit about the people who elected their new prime minister. In other words, you made it clear that this is a Punjab-led victory. But what more specifically demographically and in terms of the issues that are of the most importance to the people who elected him, so that we get a sense of who put him there and what are they looking for him to do?

HAQQANI: We don't have a full demographic breakdown of the electorate just yet. Pakistan does not have sophisticated exit polling, et cetera, so we really don't know who did it. But, very frankly, just sort of based on that anecdotal data, one can say that he was overwhelmingly supported by Sunni, Punjabi Muslim males, with some local arrangements resulting in small pockets of other -- (inaudible) -- coming in.

And so I'm sure that there were some women voters who had -- this is essentially -- these are essentially people who think that the Sharifs are better managers of the economy, they are able to go on a little bit better and that they will keep Pakistan on its course when it comes to defining Pakistani nationalism.

They are -- they are sufficiently conservative, but still outwardly modern. And they will keep Pakistan as an Islamic society without taking it too far in the Islamist direction, but will at the same time perhaps keep the microlevel economy going. I mean, one must remember that the Sharifs do have a track record in the past of running massive deficits. So the macroeconomic management is not their key, the microeconomic is.

They ran schemes for creating jobs. They gave laptops to -- free laptops to students at schoools in the current campaign because they controlled the provincial government in Punjab and the government's money was used to provide laptops. The country's school enrollment is still not, you know, very high. Fifty-eight percent of school-going age children go to school; 42 percent don't.

But still, stuff like this -- people who think that that kind of patronage benefits them. And then a lot of people -- a lot of people from the middle class who thought that the PPP government of President Zardari was just not efficient enough or competent enough and who were affected by reports about its corruption.

OPERATOR: Thank you. (Gives queuing instructions.) Our next question comes from Lee Cullum with North Texas Media.

QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. And, Ambassador, thank you for a fascinating analysis. I wonder if you could tell us how you foresee the relationship between al-Sharif and the supreme court, particularly Chief Justice Chaudhry?

HAQQANI: Well, Chief Justice Chaudhry has never in his life given a judgement that adversely affects Mr. Sharif. There has always been a very close relationship behind the scenes, quite obviously. But that said, will Mr. -- will Chief Justice Chaudhry insist on implementation of orders, just like he did with the Zardari administration? We don't know yet. And if he does, I can see one case becoming a huge problem.

Remember the Swiss case in which Mr. Chaudhry insisted that proceeding must be started against President Zardari, irrespective of what the -- of what the Swiss may or may not say and he kept that going for four years? Well, there is now a supreme court judgement that requires that Pakistan government take action against all those people who were involved in the rigging of the 1990 election with the ISI distributing funds to certain politicians.

And guess what? Among the politicians who were provided ISI funds for running in the 1990 election was Mr. Sharif himself. And so will Justice Chaudhry insist on it with the same vehemence that he insisted on prosecuting Mr. Zardari? I don't know. But if he does, we have a crisis just within a few months.

OPERATOR: Speakers, at this time there are no further questions in the queue. I'd like to turn it back over to Mr. Gideon Rose.

ROSE: Great. Thank you very much, guys. This has been a wonderful call. Husain, as always, thank you very much for this insight. Nobody else can do it better and bridge the worlds like you do. We'll stay tuned and look forward to talking with you in the future and, for our audience, with others on topics of interest. Thank you all very much for attending.

OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's teleconference. You may now disconnect.

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