Liaquat and the United States | By Mahfoozun Nabi Khan


Liaquat and the United States

SOME critics often blame that Liaquat Ali Khan pushed Pakistan in American camp. Does history support this claim? Plainly, the answer is no.

This is the question that we will try to address through these columns in a brief write-up on the eve of 71st death anniversary of the Prime Minister Liaqaut Ali Khan.

He was assassinated in a public meeting on 16 October 1951. We are also analyzing the question at a time when Pakistan and America celebrate 75 years of their relations.

It is historic truth that the United States greeted Pakistan on the eve of independence from colonial rule in August, 1947.

Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah read out congratulatory message of the US leadership in the Constituent Assembly at the time of transfer of paramount power from Great Britain to Pakistan on 15 August.

The US Government had facilitated Quaid-i-Azam’s address to American nation on State Radio.

The United States of America won freedom from colonial power and adopted democracy as the order to run state affairs.

Pakistan also chose democracy as the destiny for itself. It was common aspiration for people of United States and Pakistan.

Prime Minister of Pakistan paid a state visit of the US in May 1950 on the invitation of President Harry S Truman. Earlier his Indian counterpart Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru visited the US in October 1949.

In America, Liaquat Ali Khan did not ask for any aid but stressed the need of trade between the two countries.

The United States offered limited assistance of commodity supplies to Pakistan under PL 480.

On the other hand US leadership demanded Pakistan to delay exchange of diplomatic ties with China.

Pakistan was one of the foremost non-communist nation which had recognized the newly born state of People’s Republic of China in the tenure of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan.

The United States also demanded Pakistan to deploy army contingent in Korean War and provide air bases to supplement US cold war against Communist Soviet Union.

The American leadership had also urged Prime Minister Liaqaut Ali Khan to use his friendly influence on Iranian leadership for transfer of Iranian oil installation from Britain to the United States.

Liaquat Ali Khan did not agree to accept US demands at the cost of national sovereignty and as a matter of principle.

It is true that Liaquat had expressed his will to visit the Soviet Union during his visit to the United States.

In a diplomatic cipher dispatched by US Ambassador Woren on 12 October 1951, he informed his government that Prime Minister Liaqaut Ali Khan did not pay heed to US proposal of alliance in the Middle East but emphasized that Kashmir question is primary.

Four days later he was assassinated. History also tells us that American influence in Pakistan emerged at a later stage after the murder of Liaquat Ali Khan when a Troika of civil and militant leadership coupled with some politician captured power in the country.

Pakistan actually entered in the era of military alliance with the United States in 1954 when Pakistan joined Defence Treaties of CENTO and SEATO Liaquat was not even alive at that time but Ghulam Mohammad, Iskander Mirza and Ayub Khan were virtually on the helm of affairs with Mohammad Ali Bogra the then Prime Minister.

Pakistan provided air bases to the United States during the first martial law regime in end fifties or early sixties.

It was a time when Pakistan became more dependent on the US. Pakistan’s foreign policy was completely based on the principle of Non-alignment during Liaquat Ali Khan’s tenure of office.

It was continued till the dismissal of Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin on 17 October 1953.

Does it make any sense to put the burden of Pakistan’s entry in American bloc on the pretext of first Prime Minister’s visit to the United States.

If it is taken for granted, the then first Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru will be held responsible for pushing India in American-fold in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s present regime in India! Is it just?

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Karachi.


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