Q. How successful was Pakistan in its relationship with the USA between 1947 and 1988? Explain your answer. (N2002/P1/5c)
After partition in 1947, Pakistan decided to ally itself with USA. But at this time, USA was working towards an anti-communist alliance with India, so it was sometime before they embraced an alliance with Pakistan with any enthusiasm. During independence struggle, the America had often talked of need of unity between Muslims and Hindus, but Muslims wanted a separate homeland, so they were disturbed by this. It also took several years before USA sent an ambassador to Pakistan.
Liaqat Ali khan was frustrated by coolness of Americans towards an alliance with Pakistan. He accepted the offer to visit Soviet Union in 1949. He was successful (by this visit) in forcing Americans into closer alliance. An offer came immediately to visit USA and Liaqat Ali Khan made his visit in 1950. He made arrangements for a Pakistan Embassy to be built in USA. India was reluctant to sign an anti-communist alliance in return for military and economic aid. Agreement was signed and American aid began to flow into Pakistan. The relations became warm and good.
In 1954, Pakistan and USA signed Mutual Defence Assistance Agreement. In same year SEATO was set up. Pakistan also joined, but the decision faced opposition from within the govt. so the treaty was ratified until 1955. But Pakistan soon realised that its membership was of little importance as treaty only applied to help against communist aggression. So Pakistan was received no support in its wars against India. In 1972, Bhutto withdrew Pakistan from the organisation. In 1955, Baghdad pact was also signed which was renamed ‘The Central Asian Treaty Organisation’ [CENTO] after Iraq left in 1959 because of a revolution. However, despite regular meetings, the group never developed a permanent structure or a system for raising troops for mutual defence. USA supported it, but never actually joined. To sum up, these treaties explain why Pakistan was called the ‘most allied ally’ of USA in 1950s.
However, during 1960s and 1970s relations were often strained. In 1962, China went to a war with India. As China was communist so USA provided military aid to help India fight. Pakistan was angered over this because USA did not consult Pakistan before providing aid. In 1962, Ayub Khan visited China and in 1965 he visited Soviet Union. As both were communist, so these visits displeased USA. Pakistan was not provided any help or special aid during its wars with India (in 1965 and 1971) by USA. Although Ayub displeased USA by visiting communist countries, he is known as architect of good relations with USA. He allowed them to build air bases in Pakistan and remained loyal to USA even during the embarrassing ‘U2 Affair’. So relations were good. But when he was deposed and replaced by Bhutto, Americans became concerned as he was not as pro-American as his predecessors and relations deteriorated. Bhutto even accused Americans of organising opposition against him in 1977. When Zia came, relations reached rock bottom as Americans did not approve of military regimes. In 1979 US Embassy in Islamabad was burned. USA accused Zia of complicity in the attack. It also recalled many of its senior officials and all aid programmes were cancelled.
Furthermore, during same year, situation changed overnight when soviets attacked Afghanistan. USA began to provide military and economic aid to Pakistan to help it buy modern US weapons and also to support Afghan rebels. Relations became very good and warm. Pakistan enjoyed rapid economic development and became leading military nation in the region. But when peace agreements was signed in 1988, Pak lost its strategic importance to USA. Aid was reduced dramatically which became a big problem for new govt. of Benazir Bhutto. Americans were previously concerned about Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Bhutto had to work to maintain the relationship with the USA as American officials were not convinced that Pakistan had no nuclear weapons. In 1985 the Pressler Amendment had said that the USA could only give aid to a country after American President had declared that country had no nuclear weapons and was not developing them. After Afghan crisis was over, President Bush refused to declare that this was the case with Pakistan and he blocked aid to country. He also stopped sale of 28 F-16 fighter jets which Pak had ordered (and paid for). Pakistan complained bitterly that the Pressler Amendment seems to apply only to Pakistan, not India and was not fair. President Clinton, wanting to restore relations b/w two countries, agreed that Pressler Amendment had led to unfair treatment and suggested that if Pakistan stopped producing Weapon grade Uranium he would agree to sale of F-16s.
In 1995, Defence secretary, William Perry, visited Pakistan and declared that Pressler Amendment had been a mistake. In 1996, Brown amendment authorised the US govt. to reimburse Pak for F-16 payments and provide $388 million in military equipment. The thaw in the relations was further highlighted when First Lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsa, visited Pakistan in 1996.
Thus, relations b/w two varied in the period, but were generally good. However, it could be said that they were not successful because USA would probably have preferred to have allied with India and only had good relations with Pak when events meant it was necessary.