Sunday, November 09, 2014
ISIS represents a barbaric attitude of trying to destroy civilisation out of spite: Husain Haqqani
Author and former Pakistan Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani hailed the role of the UAE in combating the scourge of the militant group ISIS.
“The leadership of the UAE has led by example. The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah; and General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have embarked upon important initiatives to make the Arab world realise that the future does not lie in nihilism, violence and terrorism but in gaining knowledge and new ideas,” Haqqani told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2014.
Condemning the ideology of extremism, Haqqani noted that the ISIS reflects the worst form of tyranny. Drawing a sharp paradox between the ISIS and genuine Islamic values, the former top envoy cautioned: “The ISIS represents a total break from the genuine Islamic values. It is an ideology a majority of world’s Muslims do not relate to. It definitely is not an organisation that the greatest of Islamic thinkers and intellectuals like Imam Gazali, Ibn Rusd and Imam Razi can relate to.”
Noting that the Muslim world needs to defeat the vicious ideology with knowledge and ideas, Haqqani said, “To combat an extremist ideology like the ISIS, there is a need to wage an ideological and intellectual battle. The leadership of the UAE has taken a lead in that. UAE ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba has written in the American Press of the need to fight ideas with ideas. The yearning towards being the leaders of ideas once again is what should drive us.”
Beacon of hope
‘India, Pakistan will benefit by toning down rhetoric’
Husain Haqqani has urged both India and Pakistan to shun their rigid positions and come to the negotiating table for a shared future.
“Both countries will benefit a great deal if they tone down their rhetoric. That is a must towards moving towards a shared future. India and Pakistan have fought four wars till date and they have gained absolutely nothing from that violence. There is an urgent need to put an end to this culture of acrimony,” Husain Haqqani told Khaleej Times.
Haqqani, who has served as the adviser to three former Pakistani prime ministers, noted that no country can make economic progress without the bulk of its trade happening with its immediate neighbours. “Both India and Pakistan need to reflect coolly on this. What is also important is the seriousness required to overcome the legacy and bitterness of the last six decades.”
Currently a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, Haqqani wants both countries to ensure that the future of the subcontinent is different from its past. “It would be a tragedy if we fail to learn from the past and do not give our youngsters a tomorrow which is different from the mistrust of yesteryears. There should be no repetition of the past at all,” added the former top envoy, who is also currently the Director of Centre of International Relations and a Professor of International Relations at the prestigious Boston University.
Haqqani emphasised the role of the UAE as a beacon of hope in the region. “We have an enlightened leadership in this country who are thinking of innovation and education. The very fact that we have such a splendid book fair here in Sharjah helps highlight the problem of lack of attention to books and education among Muslims and Arabs.”
The Arabs constitute five per cent of the world’s population but produce only one per cent of the world’s books. “That is an anomaly which must be bridged. Isn’t it sad that this region is considered to be the least involved in terms of books globally? The success of Arabs will not depend on natural resources but on human resources. We have a very young population; almost half the population is below the age of 24. If we can make them innovative, creative and introspective then we will be able to create new ideas, new inventions and the technology to generate new economic wealth.”
Citing the lack of self-reflection as the main reason for the dearth of scientific temper and creativity, Haqqani, who was a key speaker at the fair, implored: “Instead of looking outwards, which is what the Muslim world must do, we tend to rely on conspiracies. I was asked about the Iraq war by one of the audience members at the SIBF … Look, that is not a valid analogy. I agree that Iraq war was unjust and should not have happened but that should not be an excuse for why young people, for instance in Pakistan, should not go to school. It does not explain why Yemen is at the bottom of gender inequality in the world.”
Making a strong pitch for innovation and creativity, Haqqani concluded: “Global power is a function of economic resources, ideas and innovation. Instead of being net importers of ideas, we have to move forward towards becoming generators of ideas.”