By Mansoor A. Malik
Liaqat Ali Khan, the founding Prime Minister of the newly independent state of Pakistan, paid the first official visit to the USA in 1950 after cancelling his arranged invitation to the Soviet Union. The American Influence Agents embedded in our country made sure that the direction of our first Prime Minister’s aircraft headed West and not East. It was the most in-opportune time for a democratic leader from the Third World country to visit the victorious and euphoric Super Power, USA, close to the heals of the second world war’s cessation. Europe was in ruins and totally at the mercy of the USA and America’s tentacles’ was spreading all over Asia in general and South-East Asia in particular.
All important leaders of USA at that time were pre-occupied with the flexing of their military muscles in the Korean War. Pakistan, being the largest Muslim country, and in close proximity to the theatre of war (East Pakistan/Bangla Desh) was expected to send a large military contingent to fight along with the US troops. The Vietnam imbroglio was round the corner and the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand and USA) Pact was being drafted in the corridors of the US State Department. Pakistan was caught unaware in the American Cobweb being laid in Asia but its first democratic prime minister, Liaqat Ali Khan, very suavely wriggled himself out of this quagmire and returned back to Pakistan with a commitment to present all the wishes of the USA’s agenda for Pakistan by due consideration in its first Parliament for their approval.
This would be the last time a democratic leader from Pakistan could negotiate with the US government on equal footings. Within one year of Liaqat Ali Khan’s trip to the USA, he was assassinated in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi and thereafter started the military-bureaucracy (establishment) nexus in Pakistan and its first casualty was the sovereignty of our country. All the founding politicians who led the democratic movement for the creation of Pakistan were either side-tracked or bumped out and the grip of the Establishment was fully secured. Within ten years of our existence, our establishment turned Pakistan into the Most Allied Ally of the USA on the one hand and churned its own like-minded pseudo politicians who would always be available at their beck and call.
In 1953, Mr. Richard Nixon, the Vice-President at that time was visiting India to woo her towards USA but Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India being the founding leader of the Non-Aligned Movement did not give him any audience. His rebuff in India gave our establishment an opportunity to embrace him and thus started the close relationship of Pakistan and USA. We ended up signing a Mutual Defense Pact in 1954 followed by becoming an active member of CENTO (Central Treaty Organization, now called CENTCOM) and SEATO (South-East Asia treaty organization, now called Asia-Pacific Command). Pakistan’s footprint spread from the Middle-East to the Asia-Pacific region as a protégé of the USA.
The 1965 Indo-Pak war was an eye opener for Pakistan due to the Arms Embargo placed by USA to its most allied ally. At that time, Pakistan was regarded as the 51st state of the USA amongst the comity of nations. India got an even handed treatment from the USA even though it was the un-disputed leader of the Non-aligned countries. This led us to approach the Chinese for military aid so as to be less dependent on the USA. The Soviet Union was also approached for military hardware, especially their military airlift Heli-copters and troops carrying trucks. Pakistan was still in the process of diversifying its military supply lines when the civil war broke out in its Eastern Wing and an un-necessary war was thrust on us by India in November, 1971 which led to the break-up of our country on 16 December, 1971 through the creation of Bangla-Desh. The Indians were not only hand and glove with the Soviet Empire to dis-integrate us but also had the full support of the Western World led by the Cold War Champion, USA.
Pakistan would suffer the same fate over and over again for the next forty years at the hands of its erstwhile friend, the USA. Whether it was the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s’ or the War on Terror in the 2000s’, Pakistan and its hard working, agile and good meaning people were always on the receiving end. Liaqat Ali Khan’s assassination in 1951 led to the one sided US-Pak relationship under its first military dictator, General Ayub Khan. We were used as gun-fodder by the US Military throughout our past 60 year relationship. The Pentagon in Washington and the GHQ in Rawalpindi called the shots when it came to the US-PAK cooperation, bypassing the Foreign Office in Islamabad and the State Department in Washington.
This relationship became even more complicated when the CIA and ISI came closer on their own turf and started playing the Fiddlers Three. The US Congress, especially its Upper House, The Senate with its vigorous Defense and Intelligence Committees, did exercise some leverage in maintaining a semblance of US interests but the Pakistan’s Parliament was only a silent observer with a result that US-PAK cooperation turned essentially into a military-to-military understanding. This one dimensional relationship would over the years ultimately haunt both the US and PAK democratic governments.
The last time a US President came to tinsel town, Islamabad to warn us of this one dimensional limitation in our relationship was Bill Clinton in the year 2000. He was bold enough to extract the National Radio and Television Time of Pakistan from our Commando General Musharraf to directly address the people of Pakistan to implore for the growth of in-depth relationship at our people to people level in the changed global environment. Unfortunately, Pakistan was under the severe grip of its fourth Military Dictator and the voice of wisdom coming from the Intellectual US President Clinton fell on our deaf ears.
Liaqat Ali Khan’s visit to the USA has to be re-visited after a gap of more than 60 years so as to establish a multi-dimensional political, economic, social and military relationship on a mutually beneficent bilateral frame-work. The early it is done the better it is for the people of both the countries. A country like Pakistan with nearly 200 million population having in place Three-Dimensional Nuclear and Long Range Missile Delivery Systems, producing its own jet aircraft, with more than 150 Public/Private Universities and state-of-the-art Research & Development Centers cannot be taken for granted. Pakistan’s Parliament and its strong Defense, Intelligence & Security Committees under a Democratic Manifestation have to be taken more seriously by Washington lest it loses its long time and trust worthy friend which got its neck out to face the Soviet onslaught in Afghanistan in the 1980s’ while India was supporting the Soviet Bear and it offered its brave broad chest in the 2000s’ to demonstrate its chivalry in the Global War on Terror by taking maximum casualties than any other country in the world.