If a recent news report in a local newspaper was to be believed, Hussain Haqqani, former ambassador to the US is desperateky unhappy that the US is giving aid to Pakistan; he is livid that the United States is not getting it’s money’s worth for its national interests; oh, and he also thinks Pakistani students are too stupid to be accepted at US universities.

Thankfully, none of this is true. At a seminar organised by the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, Mr Haqqani was a guest panelist, as was Dr Ishrat Hussain. During a two hour discussion, where Mr Haqqani pressed for Pakistan to ascertain and act in its own national interest, he made the often difficult criticism that Pakistan has developed a culture of reliance on American aid, or funds.

In contrast, Dr Ishrat Hussain argued vigorously that the Coalition Support Fund is not aid – it is reimbursement for expenses incurred. Dr Ishrat also insisted upon a revision of the general tenor of the conversation about Pakistan-US relations – as he said the recent tone of intimidation is not one that will lead to a long-lasting relationship.

Mr Haqqani and Dr Ishrat Hussain are both right in their own ways. Yes, Pakistan has been much maligned for taking money that comes attached with certain conditionalities. But frankly any reimbursement simply shouldn’t come with conditions. Money spent on behalf of someone else should be reimbursed no matter what.

However, is our recent war against extremism, or the National Action Plan to be deemed a US interest? Indeed it is not. Following up on the National Action Plan is in Pakistan’s best interests and must be owned as such. Disabling the Haqqanis should be a Pakistani priority as well, not just a US one. The elimination of the Taliban is in Pakistan’s best interest, no matter who created them in the 1980s.

Dr Ishrat Hussain pointed out that as an admirer of the United States, and a product of an American university, he has been arguing for the Fulbright programme to send more students for STEM subjects education, as opposed to social sciences. This is a valid concern, a Fulbright stuents from neighbouring India number 132,000. Compared to a paltry 2,000 from Pakistan. And Indian students are enrolled mostly in PhD programmes, and are studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, subjects essential to creating a “knowledge economy” as Dr Ishrat put it. This criticism of the Fulbright programme is also valid, and should be addressed.

But with a Trump administration just weeks away, perhaps Pakistan will be lucky to have any Fulbright programme, or any reimbursement programme at all.