The See-Saw Dilemma of Pak-US Relation

The See-Saw Dilemma of Pak-US Relation

As we know that international relation is based on interests. Neither friend nor enemy remains forever. The states interests formulate the nature of relation.


Let’s take the Pak-US relation in account. Going back to 1950s Pakistan and America were friends but India was too important for US both diplomatically and economically. Due to the cold response of Nehro, America has to turn toward Pakistan. Pakistan sign CETO and SENTO hoping that America will guard us against India as well but in 1962 Sino-Indian war started and US came to the help of India it was the alarming situation for Pakistan. Pakistan felt the need of changes in its foreign policy and thus settle the border dispute with China. It was annoying for America because China was a communist country. Over all the 1960s can be count as a decade of not good relation because 1965 war occurs between Pakistan and India. Pakistan was expecting a bit more from America and America found it difficult to help Pakistan against India and adopted the even handed policy. This was against the expectation of Pakistan. Similarly the 1970s were even worse. 1971 war occur between Pakistan and India again the role of US was extremely disappointing. In 1974 India went for nuclear explosion, America remain silent and forced Pakistan not to follow India. The situation become worse when the US embassy was attacked in Islamabad in 1978 but a sudden change occurs in the relation between both the countries when Russia invade in Afghanistan. Warm water theory became a challenge for America and joined hand with Pakistan against Russia.  Jemmy Carter was the President of America at that time he had to change his ideology; he was a true liberal and didn’t believe in war. His motive was to remove the deterioration from image of American morality. But soon as Russia invades Afghanistan he changed his mind and the Carter Doctrine was issued. In his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, this stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf. Then Ragan administration brought the relation to the zenith. Pressler Amendment had passed in 1985 according to which any assistance both (Military and financial) will be given to a country after the approval of US president. President was supposed to make it clear that the country is not involve in the formation of nukes, the amendment remain dormant till the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. Overall 1980s were the best ever decade of Pak-US relation but when Russian went back a sudden change came in US policy they argue that new global environment did not warrant the old strategic partnership. An immediate and far reaching consequence was the emergence of differences between the two countries on the nuclear issue. In October 1990, economic and military sanctions were imposed on Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment. One consequence of the Pressler sanctions was the US decision to withhold Pakistan military equipment contracted prior to 1990, worth about $1.2 billion, even though Pakistan had paid for this. The Pressler sanctions were applied when Pakistan's co-operation was no longer needed following the demise of the Soviet Union.  1990-1993 relations became more crisis-ridden. Instead of the two countries directing their energy and focus to craft a new relationship geared to embracing the future, both became bogged down in fire-fighting one crisis after another in their ties - over the nuclear issue, terrorism and also narcotics. Relations sunk to an all-time low when Washington threatened in 1992/93 to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. Then in the summer of 1993 additional sanctions were imposed on Pakistan under the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) for allegedly receiving missile technology from China. Since then Pakistan introduce economic liberalization program and provided a charm for US to reconsider their relation with Pakistan. And rightly so in January 1995 Defense Secretary William Perry visited Pakistan for the normalization of the relation. Any how the trouble relation went in favor of Pakistan, it provide a clean cheque to precede their nuclear program. Luckily when Pakistan tested their Nuclear weapons the 9/11 incident occurs and a new history of Pak-US relation started. In 2003, the US   forgave US$1 billion in Pakistani debt in a ceremony in Pakistan in turn for Pakistan joining the US 'war on terror” it was just a start and then the financial and military add went on. With the passage of time issues started to grow because the severity of Afghan war was on declination, mistrust and blame game started. 2011 was disastrous year. Because of the three important issues. The  Raymond Davis, the  death of Osama Bin Laden and the Salala incident. The relation continues hostile till the PMLN government came in power. They came with new policies which brought a bit of stability in the bilateral relation. But US continue to prefer India over Pakistan in several agreements. Civil nuclear deal with India and the denial of the supply of F-16 on Pakistani conditions, it shows the US inclination toward India. Now election has done in America and new president Donald Trump has to come. His rhetoric in election was extremely dangerous for Pakistan. But his telephonic call to PM Nawaz Shareef is  good gesture. The entire discourse shows that Pak-US relation relies on the interests of US in the region. More the interests stronger will be the relation lets see what will happen in the near future and how Trump reacts to it.


Writer: Zulfiqar Ali Khan


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