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Haqqani, Farahnaz, Malala among FP 100 Global Thinkers

27 November, 2012

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WASHINGTON: The prestigious US magazine Foreign Policy has included four Pakistanis in its list of Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2012, a list that included people like Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. Turkish Prime Minister Recip Teyyip Erdogan and Myanmar's Aung San Suu-Kyi.

Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Professor Husain Haqqani and his wife Farahnaz Ispahani have both been honoured "for pushing tough love for their troubled country." Malala Yousafzai has been nominated for "standing up to the Taliban and everything they represent." Pakistani Internet activist Sana Saleem has been added to the list "for insisting that free speech is not blasphemy."

The Foreign Policy magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers list is published annually. It lists people whom the magazine's editors consider as having influenced the thinking of the international community. According to the magazine, it reflects the "global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them." In previous years, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan and current ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, have also been featured in the Top 100 Global Thinkers lists by Foreign Policy.

According to the FP, "Husain Haqqani and Farahnaz Ispahani have spent their careers fighting the slow-motion radicalisation of Pakistan – even as it became increasingly obvious that the deck was stacked against them. The husband and wife, now in self-imposed exile in the United States, were two of Islamabad's most prominent interlocutors with Washington as jihadists spread throughout Pakistan's tribal areas and Osama bin Laden was discovered a mile away from the country's version of West Point. Now, after a career defending Pakistan's deeply unpopular ties to the United States, Haqqani is beginning to think it's time for a geopolitical divorce."

"If in 65 years, you haven't been able to find sufficient common ground to live together, and you had three separations and four reaffirmations of marriage, then maybe the better way is to find friendship outside of the marital bond," Haqqani, a scholar of the Pakistani military, said in August.

Ispahani, meanwhile, has tried to push Pakistan toward a frank discussion of its internal demons. The real struggle in Pakistan, she wrote this year, is "the systematic elimination" of anyone who stands up to the country's generals, who have created "a militarised Islamist state." She found out what standing up to them means in Pakistan's parliament, where she was a leading voice calling for the repeal of the country's blasphemy laws – an explosive cause that has cost several of Pakistan's leading liberal politicians their lives at the hands of radical killers, according to the magazine.

Foreign Policy said of Haqqani and Ispahani, "Their outspokenness has had its own cost: Haqqani was forced to resign as Pakistan's ambassador to Washington and was hauled before a Pakistani court over allegations that he had sought US help to head off a possible military coup, while Ispahani was stripped of her seat in parliament, ostensibly because she holds dual US-Pakistani nationality.

Instead of convincing Washington to rush to their aid, however, they're trying to convince Pakistanis that their true struggles can't be won by burning American flags. As Ispahani tweeted recently: 'Stop blaming the world – look inside'.


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