Retrograding In Retrospect

By Ehsan Ullah Khan.

There is an English proverb “to put all your eggs in one basket”. Then there is Pakistan’s Foreign policy – which perfectly exemplifies it.

Hark back to inception, it is understood that the creation of Pakistan coincided with the emergence of a bipolar world order where non-alignment had fallen out of fashion, Pakistan faced economic headwinds and further administrative bottlenecks which made it all but impossible for the newborn country to thrive alone.

Then what’s the fracas for?

Well, what vexes the mind is our mysterious animosity towards the Soviet Union and a consistent obsession with America substantiated by the fact that back in those days when invitations came from Moscow, our bespectacled Political Patriarch flew to Washington and in the process, as a result of the rebuff, we accumulated a significant amount of inimical, unnecessary and avoidable communist enmity.

But lets do away with the communists and remove the Soviet Union from the equation. Do you get anything better? No, even then you get a smorgasbord of unrequited acts of Alliance rather than a tale of tremendous friendship with the United States.

To start with, our struggle in earnest to establish an Alliance with US first bore fruit in 1950 when Liaquat Ali Khan was invited for an official visit. With red carpet receptions and exaggerated enthusiasm they surely pandered to the Old man’s pseudo pride in order to make him more malleable. Then in 1953, US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles paid Pakistan a visit as part of his South Asian trip which also included a stop in India. It was Dulles who upon his return was full of praise for Pakistan and apprised the Administration in Washington of the wonders Pakistan was capable of doing – for America of course. The tales that Dulles told had a significant impact and in the same year visits were exchanged by Gentleman General Ayub Khan – then Commander in Chief of Pakistan Armed Forces, and Richard Nixon who was at the time, the Vice President of US.This bonhomie culminated with Pakistan’s admission into SEATO and CENTO in the year 1955.

Now the aforementioned two Treaties are the cause of some significant repercussions and consequences in Pakistan’s History wherein we worked double shifts for peanuts.

As a part of these security arrangements, when we committed territory to the American cause in the form of U2 base just outside Peshawar in 1958, we were given a cold shoulder in the 1965 war. Even when our leaders acted as go-betweens and brought a crucial thaw in Sino-American relations in 1971,  the 7th fleet, the supposed help for Pakistan, didn’t reach during the confrontation with India in the same year. Overall, though Pakistan got the military and financial aid that it eyed, it was kept from developing its own resources in the longer run and a country with boatloads of potential was transformed into a dependent state.

As it occurs, one wishes that if we could have kept some eggs in the other basket too – Soviet one,  or even kept them with none other than ourselves, we would have been better off, a little less if not a lot.

About Author:

Mr. Ehsan Ullah Khan is associated with School of Economics, Quaid e Azam University.

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