Hussain Haqqani’s Propaganda
Sidra Insar Chaudhary
Sidra Insar Chaudhary
Hussain Haqqani is largely known as Pakistan’s ambassador to US in the western spheres. But before that he has been close to the Pakistani ruling elites his whole life. He is known for his remarkable Machiavellian ability to influence the powerful people into thinking that they need him to ameliorate their interests. During his political career he has jumped ships many times, joining ideologically opposing party’s just to serve his ambition. He started his political career from Islamist party Jamaat- e-Islami and then defected to Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN, and served as a political adviser. When Nawaz Shareef was replaced by Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister, he again switched sides and joined her party. He has been found guilty in the inquiry of a commission set up by the supreme court for writing a memo to call for direct US intervention in the affairs of Pakistan while serving as the ambassador of Pakistan.
The former ambassador is now under self-exiled because he is wanted by the courts in Pakistan. So now his profession is to earn by writing anti-Pakistan propaganda articles. Search his name and you’ll find it intriguing that Indian media bends over backward to give Mr. Haqqani the coverage. Mostly he writes scathing agenda-driven articles with little to no insights of foreign relations – a subject matter he calls himself an expert on.
This week Hussain Haqqani wrote for the foreign relations magazine the diplomat with the title Pakistan Discovers the High Cost of Chinese Investment. In his article, Mr. Haqqani used two Chinese companies that developed two coal power plants in the country to paint a picture that Pakistan is finding the whole of $62 billion worth of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a profiteering venture of the Chinese government. First of all, the article only discusses the financial side of two Chinese coal power plants – Mr. Haqqani is known as foreign relations expert not an economist. Furthermore, the source of the material in the article is also an inquiry committee ordered by PM Imran Khan. Secondly, contrary to what Mr. Haqqani had tried to convince people of, the report was not specifically about Chinese companies but instead it focused on the whole Independent Power Producing (IPP) sector in which China is no way near being the dominant or even a major player in Pakistan.
The report Hussain Haqqani used as source material has become contentious in Pakistan where many independent experts have questioned the claims and abilities of the authors while pointing out the actual fallacies in it. For instance, it was pointed out that the committee ignored the important factors like dollar indexation and the time value of money while calculating the returns. As a result of this criticism, government has deferred action on the report but still, it has promised to hold all IPPs responsible for their actions regardless of their country.
Mr. Haqqani quotes this controversial document to mislead people into thinking that Chinese companies are worse than the others which is not the case when one reads the original document. Haqqani alleged that Chinese companies despite completing the project in 29 months, utilized the allowed interest deductions for 48 months. Haqqani also mentioned the use of small loans at lower interest rates by the Chinese companies and false information reporting during the tariff settlement stage. However, Haqqani conveniently forgot to inform his readers that coal plants are installed on upfront tariffs and the stated implication negates the whole premise of an upfront tariff where any loss or gain goes to the account of sponsors. Also, to meet the Commercial Operation Date (RCOD) the Chinese companies used shareholder loans to finance the construction. The cost of shareholder loans is not subjected to an interest rate reduction.
The real goal of this article was to attack the Pak-China strategic connection. In global geopolitics, Hussain Haqqani is in the American and Indian camp as opposed to emerging rival China – Russian partnership. Pakistan has not aligned itself to any single group, it instead wants to keep acting as a bridge between western powers and China. Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not only important for Pakistan but it’s also part of the global Chinese Silk Road revival plan which the US has flagrantly pledged to resist. Therefore, it is no surprise that Hussain Haqqani has attempted to attack CPEC and erroneously represented it as a profit-making venture for the Chinese government. In the game of global influence, this is not the first attack on the project from American lackeys and it certainly won’t be the last.
According to the latest research, online opinions and news can have a profound effect on our cognitive abilities. Therefore, in the modern world where facts are being twisted to shape the desired narrative, it is essential to remember the personal biases of the pundits or journalists. The last couple of decades clearly belonged to the US in terms of information warfare, however, now the rest of the world has caught on. Social media sites like twitter have exposed the reality of people like Hussain Haqqani who operate on an agenda. Exposure has demonstrated how petty and dogmatic these so-called pundits are. In his article, Hussain Haqqani asks western countries and financial institutions not to assist Pakistan. It speaks volumes about the character of a man who wants to hurt the nation that got him where he is today.