Dr Rizwan Naseer
REVIEW of surveys reveals that majority of the people in Pakistan do not like the United States and these people mostly have meagre or null contribution towards national cause. When it comes to asking questions, they hold US responsible for every actus reus in Pakistan. Whereas the history of Pakistan-US relations unfolds that both the countries enjoyed amicable relationship in the early phase of cold war and Pakistan became signatory of security pacts i.e. Southeast Asian Treat Organization (1954) and Central Treaty Organizations (formerly known Baghdad Pact,1955).
In the formation of SEATO US, Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Philippines and Pakistan participated whereas in CENTO Great Britain, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan were the central actors. In cotemporary times, almost all of the previously mentioned countries are in strategic partnership with US except Pakistan and Iran. But pre-revolution (1979) Iran under Muhammad Reza Pahlavi was a close ally of US. Communist China was a hostile state with the US, but made rapprochement (1972) with the help of Pakistan which resulted in Shanghai Communiqué, paving the further way for improved China-US ties.
As the cold war was leaning towards end, nations had realized United States’ victory and made extensive efforts for establishing close ties with US. Another example of benefitting from United States’ prowess in the realm of military, technology and economy was the entry of former Soviet satellite states into North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary eventually became the members of NATO. Pakistan, despite signing security pacts in the early phase of cold war, offering Peshawar airbase for reconnaissance to US army(1956), later receiving tremendous economic and military aid and combating Soviet troops in Afghanistan(till 1989) could not become even a friendly state.
After imposition of US sanctions under Pressler Amendment (1990) bilateral relations between Islamabad and Washington drastically plummeted. Pakistan’s response to Indian nuclear tests in 1998 resulted in the suspension of aid under Glenn Amendment to both India and Pakistan. Tragic incident of 9/11 was an eye opener that such an attack could happen to any developed and nuclear states which could be more annihilating in its magnitude. Pakistan joined US in war against terrorism and that inconclusive war is still ongoing. Pakistan’s sacrifices are tremendously high in war against terrorism but that ominous war is still causing losses.
Another opportunity of strategic partnership with United States was proper availing of Non-NATO ally status. George W Bush included Pakistan into limited non-NATO list ally but debates among political pundits and at media started that Pakistan may lose sovereignty in its domestic and foreign policy. Right wing political parties in Pakistan instigate anti-American sentiments among masses that US provides unrelenting support to Israel but they don’t talk about the similar status (non-NATO ally) was awarded to Pakistan too and it lapsed as a lost opportunity for a country that badly needed economic and military aid for combating terrorism at home. Social scientist in Pakistan trace roots of governance failure in civil institutions and also proffer recommendations that if civil institutions are strengthened in Pakistan, its governance may deliver to commoner. Kerry-Lugar Bill also known as ‘Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009’ authorized $1.5 billion per year as non-military aid from 2010-2014 could prove a major leap in improving capacity of civil institutions in Pakistan. Such measures could certainly impact civil-military ties to strengthen democracy in Pakistan. But Pakistani media and parliamentarian alike started debates and termed this bill a conspiracy to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty.
For driving Pakistan out of contemporary internal and external crisis, partnership with United States Pakistan-US strategic partnership has the potential to make Pakistan a prosperous democracy where people live a better life without perils of terrorism. It also provides opportunity to work with regional states like Afghanistan, India and Iran.
— The writer is Assistant Professor IR, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad