“Three American presidents—Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson—have asked the question: What do we get from aiding Pakistan? Five—Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—have wondered aloud whether Pakistan’s leaders can be trusted to keep their word.”

–Husain Haqqani, Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding, 2013.

Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US, has paid the price in death threats and a life in exile. His Magnificent Delusions, a history of his country from the perspective of Pakistani-US relations, explains from the inside how successive Islamabad governments have demanded money and weapons from Washington while simultaneously promoting Islamic extremism to the detriment of both the US and Pakistan. Such statements difficult to hear- might have some truth to them.

Pakistani leaders have had to balance their appetite for money against the nation’s standing as an independent actor. Sometimes Pakistani officials must create a fiction of not cooperating with the Americans when in fact they are. For example, Haqqani was briefed by US intelligence officials about drone strikes while his bosses in Islamabad were denouncing them as intolerable violations of Pakistani sovereignty.

Pakistan cannot become a regional leader in South Asia while it supports terrorism. However, it also cannot become one, if it does not listen to the US. To think that the United States would indefinitely provide economic and military assistance in return for partial support of US objectives is delusional.