The ups and downs in Pak-US relations

October 19, 2015 OPINION/NEWS



Sattar Rind

The US was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan, doing so within two months and six days of the country’s independence in 1947. Since then both have observed many ups and down in their correlation.

It seems that the US from day one wanted to use the geopolitical status of Pakistan in its favour, especially against the USSR. Therefore when the US invited Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to visit the US, it was claimed that the then US president Harry S Truman used this to request that he allow the CIA to create its base in Pakistan, as the US could keep then keep a rigorous eye on USSR activities. The request was in turn declined by the PM of Pakistan as reported.

Despite this however, a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) was established in Rawalpindi following Pakistani major government officials and ministers continuously visiting the US, military personnel having started to receiving such training.

After the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, one of the later Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Huseyn Suhrawardy, granted most requests that the US wanted from Pakistan, including the leasing of Peshawar Air Base Badaber for the purpose of spying on the USSR’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and what they were planning.

When a military coup d’état occurred in 1958 by general Ayub Khan, he argued that leftist people were planning to seize power for damaging the interests of the US. Thus it was an open fact that the leftists had never enjoyed such power in the history of Pakistan.

General Ayub’s period in power was ideal for the US to have what they planned to exploit the geopolitical position of Pakistan. He was pro US and when Commander in Chief of the Pak Army and visiting the US, he clearly conveyed to them that the Pakistan Army can be allied to them if they supported his ruling of Pakistan.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto‘s four years in government with Richard Nixon as president had enjoyed the support of the United States but when Jimmy Carter became president, relations went down hill dramatically. As Carter was an anti socialist, he assumed that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a socialist.

Carter therefore put pressure on Bhutto by tightening the embargo against his Pakistani government. Besides, Bhutto was determined to get nuclear weapons from France. President Carter and his administration allegedly threatened Bhutto to disrupt the process of atomic proliferation and research to which the latter did not agree, leading to his differences with the Americans.

Responding to President Carter, Bhutto launched an aggressive and serious diplomatic offensive on the United States and the western world over the nuclear issues. As a result, Carter found it extremely difficult to counter Bhutto, especially in the UN. Ultimately however Bhutto paid the price for it, being hanged in Pakistan by the General Zia regime.

Genera Zia’s decade long rule was the worst ever for the democratic and liberal people of Pakistan. It was a period of destruction for harmony, creating a hypocritical society, while at the same time the cordial relationship between the two countries was at its highest ever point. The US president Ronald Reagan at this time supported Pakistan’s military regime because of USSR intervention in Afghanistan. It was at the time of the Mujahideen being created and terrorism becoming an organised and state sponsored activity in the region.

The ISI and CIA nexus were enjoying the height of coordination that when CIA Chief William Casey died in 1987, he had been declared a martyr (Shaheed) of the Afghan War. During this period Pakistan was the largest US financial aid receiving country in the world after Israel.

The Mujahideen received invites from all Muslim countries, ultimately succeeding with support of the Riyal, US dollars, heroin drug money and US weapons, in particular the Stinger missile.

Billions were poured into this war and whoever were involved became rich, including the warlords of every tribe of Afghanistan. Therefore when Russian left Afghanistan, a new civil war had replaced it for the ill-gotten gains as everyone wanted to get more power in the country.

Unfortunately the United States had left the Mujahideen without support, meaning they did not know where next to go. Their principle countries were not ready to accept them, thus the so-called warriors of God were not in a position to move forward.

Perhaps it was for this reason that when the US was ready to attack Iraq on the Kuwait issue, Osama Bin Laden, it is believed sent a message to the King of Saudi Arabia and the Al-Saud Family that they may not get help from the US and that he himself will get the Iraq Army out of Kuwait through its Mujahideen warriors. It was an astonishing claim and they ultimately disowned him as a citizen of Saudi Arabia.

As usual the relationship between both countries turned sour after the reign of General Zia, who died in an air crash. Soon the US imposed an embargo and in 1991 threatened Pakistan that they would label them as a terrorist supporting country. Benazir Bhutto however played an important role to stabilise these relationships and somehow changed the American threat that they might not put Pakistan into the list of countries supporting terrorists. Thus this cat and mouse game continued until 9/11, the world having changed greatly since.

9/11 was the turning point of the countries’ new relationship as Pakistan become an important and front line ally in fighting the war against terrorism, along with the US and NATO. Billions of dollars had been given to Pakistan in a good will gesture, besides reimbursing the billions under an agreement of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).

However in 2007 a report had emerged from America stating that Pakistan was using such funds to strengthen its defence border against India. Pakistan was at the same time playing a ‘double game’ and was not serious in eliminating all terrorists groups, but was involved in the patronising of a few such groups for future plans to be used in Afghanistan when required. The apparent hiding of Osama Bin Laden had also greatly broken trust between both countries as it was alleged that Pakistan knew of his whereabouts.

Therefore relationships between the two countries never at any time remained normal, ups and downs continuing to be observed; in both, a deficit of trust and anxiety being felt. Nevertheles, assuming that this relationship could change to a cordial one would be a naive conclusion at any stage. Besides, it is also very clear that the US Pakistan relationship is relatively pleasant in the General Rules period of Pakistan as opposed to that of the democratic governments in Pakistan’s history.






Sattar Rind

Sattar Rind lives in Sindh, Pakistan. and is an Author with four books to his credit. three poetry and one on politics. As a Columnist he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines since 1991. Sattar can be contacted at the following email address: [email protected]


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