Lahore: Punjab University Pakistan Study Centre (PSC), in collaboration with Department of History, organized a seminar on “Recent Irritants in Pak-US Relations”. US South Asia expert, Dennis Kux, was the keynote speaker while Director PSC Prof Dr Massarrat Abid and Prof Dr Farooq Hasnat also spoke on the occasion.
Kux gave a detailed review of US-Pakistan Relations from Pakistan joining Western Alliances in 1954 to date. He highlighted that after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad and Raymond Davis caper US and Pakistan have developed trust deficit on a number of counts.
Islamabad has reduced military and intelligence cooperation and also demanded an end to drone attacks. US administration has suspended the disbursement of 800 million dollars of military aid. Robert Gates (former Defence Secretary) described the US-Pakistan relations as a bad marriage.
Kux thinks they are not heading to divorce because US and Pakistan need each other due to a number of reasons and therefore these relations with ups and downs will likely to continue in future. He also pointed out that members of US Parliament criticized Pakistan’s two-faced policies towards terrorist groups.
Washington considers Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network and the militants led by Hikmatyar as terrorists. Pakistan on the other hand considers these groups as useful proxies, to protect itself after the US/NATO forces leave Afghanistan for good. Ambassador Kux briefly discussed the role of various US Presidents in Pakistan-US relations during a half century of “roller coaster ride”.
The Eisenhower administration and Ayub Khan cooperated with each other with the result that Pakistan became America’s ‘Most Allied Ally in Asia’. But when military aid was given to India in 1962, after the India-China war, Pakistan was infuriated. Similarly Pakistan’s friendship with China and criticism of US role in Vietnam angered Washington.
In 1965, President Johnson cut-off military and economic aid to Pakistan due to its war with India, ending the US-Pakistan alliance altogether. When Nixon came to the White House, US-Pakistan relations were once again revived and Pakistan-China friendship became a positive point for the US. Pakistan facilitated the emergence of friendly relations between US and China.
During the Ford administration, good relations continued between two countries. Jimmy Carter focused on nuclear non-proliferation, democracy and human right issues during and after his election campaign and therefore relations between US and Pakistan deteriorated once again. In 1979, due to attack on US Embassy in Islamabad and slow response of Pakistan’s law-enforcement agencies during the incident resulting in the death of 4 US Embassy employees further deteriorated the relations between US and Pakistan.
But the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan once again revived this relationship and made Pakistan “a front line state”. President Reagan and Zia-ul-Haq developed very friendly relations fighting against the Soviet Union hand in hand. During this period, the United States deliberately ignored the development of Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons. Certification was given by the US President that Pakistan was not developing a nuclear bomb.
But after the destruction of Soviet Union, Pakistan’s nuclear programme became the critical issue between the two countries and soon the US intelligence agencies confirmed that Pakistan possessed a nuclear weapon.
Nuclear issue and the role of ISI for supporting Islamic radicals kept on marring the relations during the closing of 20th century. Under Senior Bush in the beginning of new millennium the Americans were deeply worried over Pakistan’s support to insurgency in Kashmir and close relations with Taliban regime in Kabul. The Clinton administration was angry due to Pakistan’s Kargil operation capturing Indian territories and also when Nawaz Sharif government was thrown out by Musharraf in 1999.
The tragic events of 9/11 once again made Pakistan a key player in US involvement in Afghanistan. Musharraf became number one ally in US war against terror. Both the countries benefited from this Bush-Musharraf Alliance; Pakistan benefited militarily and economically and the US benefited Islamabad’s help in killing and capturing of Al Qaeda elements.
Pakistan became an indispensable ally and “non-Nato ally” of the US; and Musharraf was supported by US despite the fact that the main political parties protested against US attitude. In 2009, when George Bush left the White House, Pakistan’s political alliance had completely changed. Although a great deal of military and economic aid had been given to Pakistan, the differences between the two countries began to be multiplied.
The Raymond Davis affair and later the Abbottabad operation created a great deal of mistrust between the two countries. The US administration, Congress and the US media very harshly criticized the role of ISI in Pakistan in supporting the Haqqani networks’ anti-American activities in Afghanistan. In summary, the relations between US and Pakistan have spiralled downward to their lowest point since 9/11.
But Ambassador Kux believes that these relations are like a bad marriage where divorce is impossible and are likely to continue to rock along. Question-Answer session became very lively due to the participation of students of history, Pakistan Studies and International Relations.
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