Pakistan’s history of friendship with US is spread over sixty one years. The latter had 11 Presidents during this period – six Republicans and five Democrats. Thus, Pakistan has extensive experience with both American Political Parties and is familiar with their policies and attitudes.
‘Pak-US Honeymoon’ started during’s period. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, on President Trumann’s invitation, visited US in 1950 established the basis of this ‘Honeymoon’. On his return to Pakistan, PM Liaquat Ali Khan stated that “This visit not only enabled me to see the American people and their wonderful country but also gave me an occasion to inform the inhabitants of that country about the birth of Pakistan, its short but eventful history and the Islamic way of life adopted as an ideal by the people of my country.”
It may be true that the Pakistani PM felt that way, but how well the American polity understood this message is clearly visible from US ‘support to the Pakistani people over the sixty one years’ history of friendship. US ‘used’ Pakistan against USSR but when it came to Pakistan’s interests, US was no where to be found during the Indian invasions of Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. Americans are reported to have propagated during 1960s the thinking amongst the people of erstwhile East Pakistan that its separation from the Western wing would lead to phenomenal economic development!
In 1976, US insisted that Pakistan terminate its nuclear program. And in 1998, Pakistan was asked not to go ahead with the testing of its nuclear bomb. On both occasions, US imposed all sorts of military and economic sanctions on Pakistan. Interestingly, Pakistan’s ‘Islamic Bomb’ proved to be the ‘Psychological Bomb’ for the US. While the American ‘cold attitude’ towards Pakistan was gaining momentum in 80s, Pakistan assumed a pivotal position in US foreign policy in the advent of Russian occupation of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution. US extended both military and economic aid to Pakistan for its support in fighting Russians in Afghanistan. At the end of Afghanistan war in 1989,Sr. was elected US President and this was the beginning of the reversal of ‘pro-Pakistan’ policies. During 1993-2001, Democrat President Bill Clinton, US-Pakistan relations touched the lowest ebb. Once again, the 9/11 brought Pakistan close to the US as Pakistan was ‘forced’ to serve as the ‘front state in the ‘war on terror’ and the ‘US War’ was described as ‘Pakistan’s Own War’. This Bush-Musharraf friendship has led to the worst insecurities for Pakistan.
How true are the words of! The sixty one years of US–Pakistan relationships reflect preservation of American interests only, notwithstanding whether White House was occupied by a Democrat or Republican President. The only difference has been that contrary to Democrats, the Republican Presidents have supported the military regimes in Pakistan. All Republican Presidents – President Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr. or Bush Jr. have successfully ‘bought’ the Pakistani Generals and used them for their military objectives.
Therefore, whatever may be the results of presidential election on November 4, 2008; John F Kennedy’s words would remain the guiding principle of the US foreign policy towards Pakistan – the US rather than the mutual interest!