IN Pak US relationship, no one is sure when coolness will replace warmth and vice versa. At times, Pakistan becomes most allied ally. A key stone in arc of security of US. A frontline state in noble cause of defeating an evil empire. Pakistan is conferred with praise and acclaim for its role in fight against terrorism. Suddenly on one day, it finds its name in list of countries, harbouring terrorism and under consideration for punitive action. Nuclear proliferation is another whip. Overnight, it becomes a villain, out of consideration to its arch enemy India. To many, it oscillates because relationship between both is of only superficial friendship with very little concrete content. In convergence of interests, it blossoms. In divergence, it deteriorates markedly. In our case it is more often because US is always sure to find Pakistan back on its door as avid as before at nominal wooing and cost.
Since its inception, Pakistan preferred USA over Soviet Union. They made a lot of overtures for friendly relationship based on commonality of interests i.e. democracy, fundamental human rights, right of private ownership and moral responsibility of those fortunate in wealth and knowledge towards unfortunate etc. They often hastened to underline Pakistan’s strategic location in relation to oil bearing areas of ME and willingness to stand against possible Russian thrust towards warm waters. Initial US response was unenthusiastic. It took two years for US to realize strategic importance of Pakistan. Eventually, Pakistan was enrolled as a bulwark to fight Russians whenever they descend in the area. Instead of maturing into a relationship of friendship based on mutual respect, trust and interests, it drifted to an uncertain relationship, depending upon necessity of US while leaving Pakistan in pursuit of keeping itself relevant. In process, it incurred far greater cost than benefits obtained.
Pakistan’s participation in US led alliances antagonized Soviet Union. Consequently, they threw their complete weight behind India. Assured of their support in UN, India renounced its obligation for a plebiscite in Kashmir. In their collusion, India dismembered Pakistan in 1971. Ironically US kept shoveling its feet only until saw West Pakistan under threat because this was the place where bulwark had to fight Russian bear to protect their vital interests. Earlier in 1965 war, US stopped supply of arms to Pakistan and India while fully knowing that it would hurt Pakistan the most and least to India as most of the military arsenal of Pakistan was of US origin. When Pakistan protested that cut off amounted to punitive action against an ally, US ambassador to Pakistan said, he considered Pakistan to have provoked the war. In hour of need, friends stand together, not sit on judgment and punish.
Threatened by Indian nuclear blackmail when Pakistan started its nuclear programme, US was at forefront to deny its access to Pakistan. To its good luck, Soviet tanks rolled in Kabul. It was an earthshaking development and caught US napping. Suddenly Pakistan’s nuclear program became of tactical importance. They urgently required services of long abandoned bulwark. They came running to Islamabad as true lover seeking happy reunion and Pakistan obliged. They did almost every things to keep Pakistan in good humour until Russians left. Immediately they washed their hands off the affair and went on their way. Thereafter, it was a business as usual rather at times, relationship became adversarial until 9/11 struck. This time, it was strong arm method.
Either you are with us or against. They wanted Pakistan to follow unconditionally or be ready to face bombing to Stone Age. In view of their ferocity, Pakistan gave in. As a result, Pakistan suffered far grievously than any nation in world in fight against terrorism in terms of blood, treasure and national cohesion and development. In return Pakistan got momentarily praise and about $1.5b as a reimbursement of expenditure incurred in dribs and drabs with jerks and breaks. Frequent snub was permanent for not doing “Do More” religiously. They want our commitment at gun point as of Zarb e Azb and our other operations.
Under trump, kowtowing to India by US is exploring new heights and chill in case of Pakistan. Indians are being showered with bounties and Pakistan being squeezed. Advanced defence cooperation to India and tougher conditions for Pakistan even for release of partly reimbursement amount. Sympathy to India for being victim of terrorism and censure to Pakistan for allowing its soil for terrorism against other countries. Branding of a prominent freedom leader Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist was a gun salute to Modi, prior to his arrival at Washington. Reaffirmation of strategic partnership to India and a warning to Pakistan of change in their behaviour if fails to fight effectively against militant groups without exclusions and preferences.
A greater proactive role to India and cold shoulder to Pakistan in formulation of US policies in region. This may be a prelude to what is in pipeline for India and in offing to Pakistan. This is nothing new but unfortunately there is also nothing new in our approach. Most recent statement of advisor to PM, Sartaz Aziz in Senate, is a clear pointer. He said that our policy towards all militant and their networks including Haqqani network is quite clear. We will fight them wherever they are and will never tolerate their presence on our soil. Taking action against all of them without any discrimination is in our national interests and was independent of attitudinal change of any country.
— The writer, retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.