The 60 Years of PAK-AMERICAN Journey

By Engr. Mansoor A Malik

Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan’s first and his last visit to USA in 1950 paved the way for a long and tumultuous relationship between the Victorious (Second World War) Super Power, America and the Largest, Democratic Muslim State of the world at that time, Pakistan. This new fledgling democratic state of Pakistan had gone to the Golden Shores of the USA to get help in strengthening its democratic institutions which were in infancy and urgently required support and help from its friends abroad. It could have gone to its ex-colonial power, UK for this support but preferred a fresh approach since its founding politicians had apprehensions about the close affinity between its immediate neighbor India and UK. The objectives of this journey from the Pakistani leadership were quite vivid but its timings were completely out of place. The American policy makers in Washington at that time were deeply engrossed in the preparation of the Korean War as a demonstration of their new Asia-Pacific policy and required foot soldiers for this important campaign. They had already roped in the Turkish Military and requested Pakistan to do the same. Liaqat Ali Khan in his own eloquent style, coming from the landed aristocracy, politely refused any military help on this account.

From all political accounts the beginning of AmPak (American-Pakistan) relationship proved to be a dismal failure right at the start. Then appeared the spin doctors from both sides of the divide and a superseded General Ayub Khan under the pen of none other than the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was resurrected to stand tall and deliver on AmPak. Liaqat Ali Khan the astute politician was murdered in broad daylight at Rawalpindi on October; 1951.This was the beginning of the end of the Political Stability in Pakistan. Within fifteen years of its existence most of its founding politicians were dead or bumped out. The military in Pakistan was now calling the shots.  The AmPak was further stretched into the Middle-East   under CENTO and into the Asia-Pacific under SEATO.This relationship was to last more than 20 years and was finally buried after the dismemberment of Pakistan by the populist politician Mr.Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The assassination of Mr. Bhutto and the revolution of Iran in 1979 brought the AmPak to the fore under another second rated Pakistani General Zia-ul-Haq. CENTO was re-structured into CENTCOM (Central Command) and SEATO into the Asia-Pacific Command. General Zia would in time prove to be the front line commander of CENTCOM.

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Pakistan’s political institutions were kept under the thumb of General Zia and even his hand picked Prime Minister Junejo was dismissed in 1988 when he wanted to have a semblance of independence on the General’s Afghan Policy as well as reproachment with the National Politicians. Throughout the AmPak relationship from the 1950s’ to the 1980s’ the Military Institutions in Pakistan were strengthened at the cost of our Political Institutions. The military intervention of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the late 1970s’ brought more international support for AmPak and strengthened the hold of Pakistani generals on our society. Pakistan was completely militarized to face the Soviet Union on its North-Western borders. Afghan refugees in the millions started pouring in Pakistan along with the Drugs and Gun culture.

The mid-air crash of General Zia in 1988 brought the Pakistani politicians back in the arena which hardly lasted a decade till a Commando General Musharraf booted out a popularly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. During President Clinton’s second tenure, efforts in real earnest were carried out to redefine AmPak by getting it out of the crutches of the Military and involving the Civilian dimension of it. The crescendo of this policy came during his last visit to Pakistan where he addressed directly to the Pakistani people with his half an hour speech broadcasted on Pakistan Radio and Television. In 50 years of AmPak this was the first time the US President thought of winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan. Unfortunately, it was the wrong time of choice where a Pakistani general was again in power in his commando uniform and within a few months Clinton’s White House had to give way to the war monger President George Bush junior.

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All the four military dictators of Pakistan have been very fortunate to get their wanted legitimacy from Washington due to the fast moving events in our region. General Musharraf, the last of our dictators, encashed the 9/11 tragedy fully to his advantage, by selling the heart and soul of Pakistan on the AmPak bidding. His nine years (1999-2008) tenure reached new heights of AmPak relationship which even surprised the American Policy Makers at the level of his capitulation. This was the lowest ebb of our AmPak relationship and very soon it was replaced by the term AfPak to equate us with Afghanistan and remove the American misnomer in our mutual relationship. The Kerry Luger bill may have wanted to pick up the pieces out of President Clinton’s speech to have a sound relationship with its civilian counter part in Pakistan but this have to be given time and space for evolving our Political Environment which has been brutally battered by AmPak impact of our past history. Will the present AfPak policy strengthen the political institutions of our country? Only time will tell.

Mansoor Malik, is Member Board of Advisors, Opinion Maker. In brief, he has been Director General with over 33 year of experience in planning, establishing and managing national level, strategic, high-tech organizations. Director General, Marketing & Industrial Relations Organization (MIRO). Commandant, College of Aeronautical Engineering, Risalpur.

Senior Engineering Manager, PAF Project where he was responsible for the smooth induction of F-16 Aircraft Weapons System in the PAF and making them fully operational.

His experience is very versatile in different fields of technology and education. He is consultant to number of organizations and the Universities of Pakistan.