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Husain Haqqani or Hussain Haqqani (Urdu: حسین حقّانی) (born July 1, 1956) is the Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, appointed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in April 2008. Previously, he has held numerous high-ranking positions in and out of government, including as adviser to three former Pakistani prime ministers and as envoy to Sri Lankamarker, and has been a prominent journalist, scholar and educator. His appointment in 2008 marked a return to government service after being exiled in 1999 following criticisms against the government of then-President Pervez Musharraf.

Government and political career

At the time of his appointment as ambassador on April 3, 2008, Haqqani was viewed as a respected figure on the world stage, coming to the post well versed in the ways of diplomacy and Washington. He succeeded Mahmud Ali Durrani, who became national security adviser to the Gillani government.

Prior to his appointment, Haqqani had been critical of the Musharraf regime and past U.S. support to Pakistan's military. In 2007, he told the U.S. Congress that Musharraf's decision to remove Pakistan’s chief justice was a grave mistake.

Policy direction

As ambassador, Haqqani has charted a course of increasing predictability in U.S.-Pakistani relations. He links security issues to economic ones, and has commented that the lack of a strategic foundation has plagued U.S.-Pakistani relations since Pakistan’s inception. "The U.S.-Pakistan relationship has gone up and down like a yoyo," according to Haqqani, "and the reason why…is because U.S. strategic planners have never looked upon Pakistan in its own right".

He terms the historical bilateral relationship as "erratic", citing U.S. engagement from the early Cold War to the Sovietmarker invasion of Afghanistanmarker, when the U.S. government backed Afghan fighters by funneling support through the Pakistani channels. He is skeptical that completely stabilizing the relationship can be accomplished during the tenure of one ambassador, but seeks to "lay the foundations of a relationship that is multidimensional: political, military, cultural, economic and social".

He believes that -- in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto -- a consensus exists in Pakistan that, to forge a stronger national identity, Pakistani provinces and ethnic groups must continue to unify through democratic processes.

Other experience

Haqqani has been a campaign worker, senior adviser, ambassador, spokesperson and scholar. In 1988, he worked in the political campaign for an alliance led by Nawaz Sharif; In 1990, he was special assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; from 1990-92, he was special assistant and spokesman for Prime Minister Sharif; from 1992-93, he became one of Pakistan's youngest ambassadors, serving in Sri Lankamarker; from 1993-95, he was spokesman to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto; from 1995-96, he was chairman of the House Building Finance Corporation.

From 2004-08, Haqqani was an associate professor for international relations at Boston Universitymarker. In addition, he co-chaired the Project on Islam and Democracy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, and was editor of the journal Current Trends in Islamists Ideology. Among his numerous writing credits are "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military" for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; "Islam’s Medieval Outposts" for the journal Foreign Policy, and "The Role of Islam in Pakistan’s Future" for Washington Quarterly.

Journalism background

Haqqani worked as a full-time journalist from 1980-88. He covered the war in Afghanistan for Voice of America radio; served as the Pakistan and Afghanistan correspondent for Far Eastern Economic Review; and worked in Hong Kongmarker as the East Asian correspondent for the London-based Arabia: the Islamic World Review.

Since that time, he has steadily contributed op-eds and articles to dozens of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe, Financial Times in Londonmarker, International Herald Tribune, South China Morning Post, Toronto Globe and Mail, Gulf News and Le Monde. He has also been a syndicated columnist for the Indian Express and Daily Star in Bangladesh; he has appeared regularly on television news shows for BBC, CNN, NBC, PBS, CBS and ABC, commenting on Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asian affairs, Islamic politics and radicalism.

Early life, personal and family

Haqqani was born in Karachimarker and was raised in a conservative religious family in Malirmarker, a relatively poor suburb of Karachi. Growing up, he found himself alternating "between being attracted to and repulsed by political Islam". He began his interest in journalism while in high school. In college, he became president of the student union. He would frequently visit the library at the U.S. consulate, reading volumes of American history. Later, when students wanted to attack the consultate as part of a protest against the United States, Haqqani refused.

He has lived in the United States since 2002, and has developed a taste for the Boston Red Sox baseball team and news programs.

Haqqani received a B.A. degree with distinction in 1977 and an M.A. degree with distinction in international relations in 1980 from the University of Karachimarker. He is married to Farahnaz Ispahani, a former producer at CNN and MSNBC and current member of the Pakistani parliament, and the granddaughter of Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani, Pakistan's first ambassador to Washington. Their official residence in Washington was purchased and donated by her grandfather.


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