By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
In a White House statement issued on October 20, 2010, it was clarified that, “President (Obama) —–would not be stopping in Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, and committing to visiting Pakistan in 2011.” President Obama is schedule to visit four Asian countries; India, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia in November this year. The visit was scheduled in May 2010, and Pakistan was not part of this Asian tour of President Obama. It is yet not clear, as to why White House felt a need of issuing such a clarification, since the visit to Pakistan was neither planned nor has Pakistan ever asked U.S for such hemmed in visit by President Obama. However, it is widely assumed that the visiting Pakistani delegation (in connection with the Pak-US Strategic Dialogue) might have rendered an invitation to U.S President for a visit to Pakistan on behalf of his Pakistani counterpart.
Various logics are being professed for Obama’s not visiting the Pakistan alongside India. According to Hussain Haqqani, the Pakistan’s ambassador to United States, since President Obama desired an in detail visit of Pakistan, therefore, dovetailing his visit with India would have meant, spending only half a day in Pakistan, which would have been unfair with a friendly country. Instead, US President has invited President Asif Zardari to visit United States. The schedule of this visit would be announced later.
Skipping Pakistan from Obama’s Asian tour might not have been a point of debate for the people of Pakistan and South Asia, had India not been part of this visit. It is indeed, the traditional rivalry between India and Pakistan which has brought focus of everyone on this visit. Visiting India by the head of the sole super power would mean that, US give more importance to its new strategic ally, India, as compared to its traditional ally, Pakistan. People of Pakistan has a right to question from the incumbent U.S leadership that, what India has done for United States in its history, which Pakistan could not do.
Have the people of United States forgotten that India was part of anti-US lobby, until early 1990s. Alongside former Soviet Union, India did everything possible to harm the interests of United States and the Western camp, while hauling out every possible help from this bloc. Pakistan on the other hand has secured US interests right from the beginning of 1950s. It has provided all out assistance to US and facilitated it at the level of South Asia, Muslim Ummah and even in establishing US relationship with People’s Republic of China. Pakistan had to pull along with the enmity of former Soviet Union, a next-door neighbour for the sake of its relationship with US, sitting thousands of miles away from it. The former Communist power even threatened Pakistan with the dire consequences for its support to U.S.
Should U.S forget the Pakistani support during its covert war against Soviet Union, from 1979 to 1989, which ended with the disintegration of the later, thus making the former as the sole super power? This strategic victory of US, followed by its hasty rush back to launch the ‘Operation Desert Storm’ against Iraq, left thousands of fighters of the Afghan war jobless at Pak-Afghan border. They are indeed, the terrorists and militants of today. They have caused death of over 30,000 innocent people of Pakistan through their barbarian acts, like bomb blasts, suicide attacks, and target killing. These terrorist acts also caused death of over 3000 soldiers of Pakistani security forces in the ongoing war against terrorism.
The role of Pakistani nation and sacrifices it rendered during this ongoing war are obvious, therefore, need not to be over emphasized. American decision makers in particular and its people in general should analyse and compare, whatever Pakistan has done for them in its history, is a friction of that has been done for them by India? This analysis if done realistically would reveal that except fleecing US, India has not done anything worthwhile for the promotion of US cause. It is Pakistan only that has even compromised its national interests for the promotion of US cause. Therefore, American should not prove to be a thankless nation.
These were some of the historical facts of Pak-US and Indo-US relationship. However, this is a reality that in the post cold war era, owing to many factors, US gives preference to India over Pakistan. It declares India as its strategic partner and a natural ally. Since 2003, both countries have concluded a number of bilateral agreements at strategic level. The Indo-US nuclear deal of 2005, rectified in 2008 is one such landmark pact, undertaken un-precedently by US with a country having extremely poor record of nuclear proliferation. India gained military and civilian assistance worth billions of dollars by US and other European countries.
Owing to its geo-graphical location, it is unlikely that Pakistan will ever lose its significance, globally as well as regionally for all major powers of the world. Today US may be looking India as a big market for its goods or else as a counter weight to China. Nevertheless, in the longer terms, it is Pakistan, which as a crossroads of civilizations, regions and as a geo-graphical pivot of history would matters a lot for the region and globe alike.
Since the visits of two previous US presidents; Bill Clinton in March 2000 and George W. Bush in March 2006, has not yielded positive results, therefore, Pakistani nation is not expecting any miracles from President Obama, otherwise under the strong influence of the anti-Pakistan Indian and Jewish lobby. The fact of the matter is that the nation is not very much enthusiastic about such tour by U.S President, who may project Indian viewpoint even while being in Pakistan like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, which would be a big setback for this great nation.
The 180 million people of Pakistan are proud of being a strong nation. It is nuclear power and knows how to protect its national interests, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. If U.S gives preferences to its national interests, no one stops us from pursuing and protecting our national interests. If Islamabad feels that U.S has been discriminatory while planning this visit, it should also disregard any such invitation of visiting the Washington by president and Premier. This would indeed, raise our national character.
Today if we decide to live with dignity and honour, no power on earth would be able to subdue us. However, we must learn to live within our means while taking all out measures for the wellbeing of the people of Pakistan without discrimination.
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan is a PhD in International Relations from Karachi University. Presently he is an Associate Professor with National University of Defence, Islamabad. His area of research is South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East and the Regional Conflicts.
He has published numerous papers in various publications. Now he is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.