Pakistan’s Chinese umbrella, Babar Ayaz
The basic terms of the Pakistan-US relations policy, as laid by the Quaid, drastically changed after 9/11.
US President Trump’s undiplomatic and harsh tweet that accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists regarding Pakistan has provoked fury in the country, particularly in the hyper-nationalist politicians and media.
The problem with practicing politics and diplomacy via 280 characters of Twitter is that it can only give an incomplete version of what was actually meant to be. A short statement on Twitter fails to provide a right perspective of the complex issues. Instead of being utilised as a useful tool, Twitter has ended up being used recklessly.
The trouble with conducting sophisticated, diplomatic politics through 280 characters is that such tweets gives very terse messages. A short tweet statement cannot give a right perspective to the complex issues but in spite of the inadequacy of this medium it has become fashionable to use it recklessly.
The US State Department is now busy in damage limitation and redeeming the disappointment caused by Trump’s Tweet. The recent visit by Alice Wells was a telling evidence of it.
The US State Department officials are now trying the dilute the impact of the harsh messaging by President Trump. The recent visit of Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary was part of this exercise.
The relation between any two countries is based on the mutual interests and not on any selfless sentimental value.
The relation between any two countries are based on the self interest and not on any altruistic sentimental value.
Pakistan-US relations have seen many ups and down. The foundation of Pakistan-US relations, till recently, was based on the vision of Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-e-Azam.
While all earlier engagements with the US were relations between consenting adults and solicited by Pakistan, the post 9/11 marriage was forced
The relationship between the two countries can even be dated back to pre-Independence India.
On 1st, May 1947, two American visitors, Raymond A. Hare, Head of the Division of South Asian Affairs, and Thomas E. Weil, Second Secretary of the US Embassy in India, visited Jinnah in his Bombay residence.
Even before Pakistan’s inception on May 1, 1947 Pakistan movement’s Mr Jinnah “received two American visitors at his Bombay residence, they were Raymond A. Hare, Head of the Division of South Asian Affairs, and Thomas E. Weil, Second Secretary of the US Embassy in India… ” Jinnah, who sought to impress the American visitors, told them that the emergence of a new state in the Indian subcontinent would serve as a strategic asset of American interests. He assured them that the Muslim countries would stand together against the Russian aggression.
He (Jinnah) sought to impress on his visitors that the emergence of an independent, sovereign Pakistan would be in consonance with American interests. Pakistan would be a Muslim country. Muslim countries would stand together against Russian aggression.”
The leaders of the newly created Pakistan lived under the fear of Indian aggression and to strengthen its rag-tag army, they needed American support,. And and as a trade-off, they offered their services to counter the socialist threat to the region.
Pakistan was driven by the perceived Indian threat and pandering to its military leadership kept on getting in deeper relations with the US. First they signed a Mutual Defence Pact in 1954,which had a clause to combat any communist insurgency. Pakistan then joined the Baghdad Pact/CENTO and SEATO. Khawaja Nazimuddin who resisted joining an alliance was booted out by Ghulam Mohammed.
US military assistance kept on pouring in and training to senior officials continued till 1965 when it was stopped because Pakistan had launched the covert ‘Operation Gibraltar’ across the LOC. As military assistance given to Pakistan was with the caveat that it would not be used for offensive purposes, US stopped military equipment supplies to both the countries. The common refrain was that the ‘US was not a reliable friend’. Isn’t the same message echoing today?
Military and civilian assistance was revived in 1975, but only to be discontinued under Symington Amendment in 1979 showing concern over Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme.
But all principles against nuclear proliferation were soon forgotten by the US once the Soviet Union forces entered on the invitation of the Afghanistan left government to curb Pakistan sponsored insurgency. So Pakistan kept the promise made by its leaders in 1947 to be the frontline state against Soviet Union.
It must be highlighted here that it was General Zia and the US Administration which created a number of Islamic Jihadi groups of Afghans and Pakistanis from 1979-89. The US and Pakistan are reaping the bloody harvest of this dangerous policy. As most Mujahideen were selling almost 50 to 70% arms and ammunition in Pakistan, the country has seen proliferation of at least $1.5 to 2 billion weapons.
True, the Americans left us high and dry to deal with these Islamic warriors and the ‘Islamic techno-guerillas’.
After the withdrawal of Soviet forces withdrawal in 1989, the US was reminded of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and all military and economic assistance was stopped under the Pressler Amendment. This was done on the pretext assurance that Pakistan was is not following the nuclear bomb programme. , But the evidence suggested that American claims were not true. but the evidence was on the contrary.
But once the World Trade Towers were blown by Al Qaeda, the US gave no option to Pakistan but to join the war against terrorism. While all earlier engagements with the US were relations between consenting adults and solicited by Pakistan, the post 9/11 marriage was forced.
The basic terms of the Pakistan-US relations policy, as laid by the Quaid, drastically changed after 9/11. We had chosen to serve the US against communist Soviet Union expansion but not against the Islamist militants. Particularly, when Pakistan had itself installed the fascist Taliban leadership.
Thus, President Musharraf decided to play the double game with the US by covertly supporting Afghan Taliban to fight in Afghanistan and at the same time, handover Al-Qaeda leadership to the US. The same policy was continued by continued by our establishment. The US leadership has been constantly telling us to stop supporting the Taliban and Haqqani network. Whenever they raise this issue, our government starts talking talks about the military operation against the Pakistani Taliban and Daesh.
This indeed is half of the truth, half the truth because we have given some sacrifices while fighting against the Islamic militants who were challenging the writ of Pakistani state government. This is undoubtedly Pakistan’s existentialist war. But it is not what the Americans are talking about. They are more concerned about the different set of militant groups i.e. Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network.
The Americans seems to have an illusion that Pakistan can take action against Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani group in KP. The Pakistan establishment is reluctant to open a new front against these Afghanistan specific Taliban mainly because it fears the backlash from these organisations organization and their supporters. And at the same time, as stated above, Pakistani establishment is under the delusion that Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network are Pakistan’s assets in an otherwise hostile Afghanistan.
At the same time, Pakistan government is now playing hard bowl with the US because Pakistan’s establishment thinks that it can now afford to move away from the US, thanks to the changed geo-strategic situation of the region with the rise of the China and Russia bloc. Pakistan has opted for this new umbrella.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author. (email@example.com)
Published in Daily Times, January 27th 2018.