People around the world believe that after 9/11 the American foreign policy has taken an imperialistic approach and people are living in a new world order where the United States of America is the police state (Robert Fisk, 2009).  U.S. foreign policy is what the United States does in the foreign countries; this includes setting up a new government or imposes sanctions on that country. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not but no one likes or appreciates U.S. foreign policy; doesn’t matter whatever U.S. does it is always taken as an imperialist behavior. Lord Palmerstone has said: “The foreign policy of a nation cannot be static. There can be no eternal friends and no eternal enemies in foreign relations.”  For example: US foreign policy In Middle East, a lot of times it has been heard and reported that U.S. favors Israel in the Israel- Palestinian conflict because of strong Israeli lobby which is known as AIPAC  in the congress. Looking further to United States foreign policy history there is one country since its birth has been an important ally to the United States. Pakistan is a nation which has been embedded in turmoil since its creation. It fought three wars against its neighbor India, terrorist attacking everyday in metropolitan cities of Pakistan, fighting Taliban at the border and growing Islamic fundamentalism which is causing a downplay in U.S. foreign policy in that country. With all the ups and downs in political situation in Pakistan; but still both the nations have enjoyed great friendship but there is always a catch (Haqqani, 2005). So to address the situation how Pakistan and United States friendship has been on what costs, this research will respond to this topic by answering these few questions:

1)      How was United States relations in the past with Pakistan (since independence) to 2000?

2)      How was the United States and Pakistan friendship from 2001 (9/11/2001) to present?

3)      What is there for both the nations for helping each other? Can United States help Pakistan to be stable?


Pakistan President Liaquat Ali Khan with US president Truman in 1950

How was United States relations in the past with Pakistan

(since independence) to 2000?

As World War 2 is out of the way, it brought up an uprising in many countries which resulted in decolonization.  Decolonization was a great thing for the people of those respective countries as they gained independence from colonies and empires (Haqqani, 2005). 200 years of British colonization in Indian subcontinent, for over 90 years the Indians fought for their independence from the British Raj; this resulted formation of two nations India and Pakistan on August 1947 (Patrick, 1998). Pakistan is a nation which depends on three “A’s”; Allah, Army and America. During British India some of the Indian revolutionaries were Marxists, Socialists and communists and Soviet Union treated India as a friend and China as an enemy. India became a best friend and ally to Soviet Union (Haqqani, 2005).  This led to decide Pakistan to be an ally of United States, for United States Pakistan was an important ally for geopolitical reasons (Dennis, 2001). However Pakistan did not align itself to Unite States till 1953, on the other hand Pakistan recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1950 and been a steadfast ally during China’s isolation from the international relation in the 1960’s and the 1970’s (Dennis, 2001). Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan headed the first government of Pakistan and Karachi was the capital. Regarding foreign policy Liaquat Ali Khan established his friendship with United States in 1950 even though without aligning itself and with no formal no commitment. On 1951 Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated and here starts with the pattern of political violence, repression and waves of assassination which prevented the establishment of democracy in the country.  However this did not stop Pakistan to align itself with United States on 1953 and started to receive military and economic assistance (Dennis, 2001). On 1954 U.S. was concerned over the Soviet Union’s expansion and Pakistan who already fought a war against its neighbor India on 1948-1949 just after the partition of the British India. This concerned both United States and Pakistan so both nations signed a mutual defense agreement in which Pakistan received a total of $508 million in military aid from United States between 1953 and 1961(Safdar,2000). On 1955 Pakistan aligned itself more towards the West by joining the two defense pacts CENTO and SEATO which stands for Central Treaty Organization and South East Asian Treaty Organization. As a result Pakistan received a military aid of $2 billion from U.S. including the $508 million from 1953 to 1961 (Safdar, 2000). On 1962 a shaky relations started between Pakistan and United States; during the presidency of J.F.K. and the Indo-China war the United States saw itself reaching to India with economic and military aid which displeasured Pakistan very much. However President Kennedy assured the Pakistani President Mohammad Ayub Khan if the United States has to decide on whether to give military aid to India or not, he would surely talk to Khan first (Dennis, 2001). On November 1962 failure to do so by President Kennedy offended Pakistani President Khan a lot. Washington reaffirms its earlier assurances in order to reassure Pakistan and confirmed Pakistan that in the event of aggression from India, United States would surely assist Pakistan. Then the shaky relation was fueled on 1965 India – Pakistan second war over Kashmir. Over the second war of Kashmir United States cuts off its aid to both India and Pakistan which began on August 5, 1965 and ended on September 22, 1965. Both sides agreed on a UN mandated cease fire but Pakistan was aggrieved by the U.S. behavior; they felt it was a friend’s betrayal, while United States was disheartened by the fact that both sides used U.S. supplied equipment (Safdar, 2000).

JFK Recieving Ayub Khan

            President Kennedy Receiving President Ayub at Andrews AFB

 L to R: Ayub Khan, Nasim Aurangzeb, Jackie Kennedy, John F. Kennedy

Aftermath the war Pakistan drastically shifted their security environment and found itself cut from the U.S. military aid as Pakistan was getting more friendly towards China, which United States treat equally to Soviet Union.  It was a tricky enterprise by Pakistan; on one side it is seducing United States and on the other hand it has taming ties with China.  Pakistan’s 1971 Civil War fueled more fire to the shaky relations of United States and Pakistan. West Pakistan was on a war with East Pakistan due to the failure of constitutional agreement after the victory of Awami League (East Pakistan) in the country’s first general elections.  On one side Pakistan is fighting a war at its backyard whereas United States was busy in a war in Vietnam. United States couldn’t be that much of a help to Pakistan as suspending military aid; later on 1971 East Pakistan seceded from West forming an independent nation of Bangladesh. This act caused resentment among Pakistanis; this act did not just blow Pakistan’s trust from United States in a political way but even from the public eye. Pakistanis felt United States wasn’t a good friend (Dennis, 2001). On May 1974 India conducted its first nuclear detonation with the help of Soviet even though India claimed it was a peaceful explosion but United States worried that Pakistan would retaliate and believed Pakistan did not have the capabilities. So United States resumed a very limited aid in 1975 for Pakistan (Safdar, 2000).

President Reagan with Ziaul Haq in 1980

Ziaul Haq with President Reagan

The time has come again when Pakistan is on the United States most important ally list. On December 25th Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan; this was a decade long occupation which drained the Soviet military might and national self-esteem.  In other words it was Soviet’s version of Vietnam War. As Afghanistan lies its border with Pakistan s Northern Pakistan became a U.S. base and Saudi armed Afghani military fighters known as Mujahedeen (Safdar, 2011).  On the other hand United States gets escalating evidence on Pakistan’s major nuclear arms project which includes a construction of uranium enrichment facility. This worried the United States very much which led the Congress to suspend military aid to Pakistan.  As Pakistan was important in this war so U.S. president Ronald Reagan offered a five year economic and military aid of $3.2 billion. Pakistan becomes a transit country for U.S. arms supplies to Afghan Mujahedeen and camps for three million Afghan refugees who has to return home. The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) trained and helped Pakistani spy agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) in training Afghan Mujahedeen along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Safdar, 2000). Regardless of the aid renewal to Pakistan; United States congress remained worried about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program goals. Therefore, the Pressler Amendment was added to the Foreign Assistance Act in which President has to certify that Pakistan will not possess a nuclear weapons during the fiscal year in which aid will be provided to Islamabad. However, U.S. aid continues to flow to Pakistan under the administration of President Ronald Reagan until 1990 even after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan (Dennis, 2001). On 1990, Gulf war took place and Pakistan was still an important partner for U.S. in this war but President George H.W. Bush suspends aid to Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment ; economic and military aid were suspended and even the deliveries of major military equipment. On December 26, 1991 the fall of Soviet empire brought peace into the minds of U.S. as that made United States as the only super power in the world. This means United States doesn’t have to worry about anymore Soviet expansion or Soviet influence anywhere (Dennis, 2001). With the strained relations between Pakistan and United States, on 1998 both India and Pakistan conducts nuclear tests. This resulted U.S. sanction on Pakistan and some of the notable aid were cutoff which included the delivery of F-16 fighter aircraft purchased by Pakistan in 1989. However U.S. compensated Pakistan with $325 million in cash and $140 in goods (Safdar, 2001). On May 1999, the invasion of Pakistani army forces into Kargil (Indian controlled Kashmir) which led to another war between India and Pakistan. The war might get bloody so the U.S. president Bill Clinton urged Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef to withdraw the Pakistani forces and restore a cease fire. This led to a military coup on October 1999 which overthrew Nawaz Shareef government and Army general Pervez Musharraf takes over. This resulted in another layer of sanctions and restriction in military and economic aid (Rashid, 2008).

How was the United States and Pakistan friendship from 2001 (9/11/2001) to present?

It’s time to ask some favors to a friend. On September 11th, 2001 w on terror Pervez Musharraf received aid flowing into the country and stronger bilateral relations; which includes the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan to 2006 (Rashid, 2008).  Pervez Musharraf wins another 5 years term in office but he seemed to be getting unpopular among Pakistanis especially the radicals for his support for United States attack on Afghanistan (Pervez, 2008). He prevented the Supreme Court from ruling against his reelection so he imposed a state of emergency in November 2007; started to crack down on pro democracy activists. This worried U.S. so urged Musharaf to step down as army chief and lift the emergency. Musharraf complied and agreed on holding free election on 2008 and also agreed on opposition leader Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan and participate on 2008 elections (Rashid, 2008). Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on 2008 by Islamic militants has thrown the country into chaos. As Pakistan is facing a tough fight from Islamic militants U.S. was ready to provide any military support and conduct joint operations with Pakistanis. As parliamentary elections postponed till February 18, 2008, United States have to wait for the Pakistani consent to conduct any military exercise in Pakistan. As a new government is in Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari as the new president of Pakistan (Current) United States and Pakistan are still conducting the joint military exercises. Every day Pakistan is attacked with Islamic militants, fighting Taliban forces at the Afghanistan and Pakistan border and with people dying at the tribal areas of Pakistan with U.S. drone attacks, U.S. popularity is in jeopardy (Rashid, 2008). 


President Bush with President Pervez Musharraf

What is there for both the nations for helping each other?

Can United States help Pakistan to be stable?

Since Pakistan’s birth i.e. nearly from 1950 Pakistan and United States have been big good friend and an important ally. Pakistan so far has been following according to the footsteps of United States. Even though Pakistan has been poured with billions of aid from United States in the past but Pakistan’s poor record of democracy, human rights and the funding of Islamic fundamentalists has derailed the nation. United States has enjoyed Pakistan’s intelligence and friendship at the past and still now due to its geopolitical reasons (Moreau, 2011). During the cold war era to stop the Soviet expansion in the South East and South Asian region Pakistan played a vital role for the United States. United States aid helped Pakistan to grow its military might and fight its archrival India but on the other hand Pakistan has a poor record of democracy and funding Islamic fundamentalists. At the beginning United States never followed and worried about this but now it is in a stage that both Pakistan and United States are affected by the Islamic fundamentalists.  United states have to intervene and look to it that Pakistan is following the steps of democracy and stop the funding of the fundamentalists (Moreau, 2011). As Pervez Musharraf has said recently: “If you want to get rid of Taliban from the region then you need to be successful in Afghanistan.” (Musharraf, 2011). But what can be implied from Bin Laden found in Pakistan? It is sure that Pakistan has supported militants and some radical fundamentalists in the country but founding one of the world’s most wanted man in their west point of Pakistan is a real shock. There has been a threat from fundamentalists, Taliban and Al Qaeda who vow to seek revenge on Bin Laden’s assassination by the US navy seals. In this way it is hard to get any stability in Pakistan. But with Bin Laden’s death and as he was found in Pakistan, there is some more strain relation between the two nations (Moreau, 2011).


US President Barack Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai (L) and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (R), 6 May 2009. 
(Photo: Reuters)


On 2009 the 174th Fighter Wing of the National Guard was the first unit of the United States to operate an unarmed surveillance over the skies of Afghanistan and Pakistan. These drones are expected to help the U.S. and coalition forces and help the civilian lives (Moreau, 2011). Unfortunately, everyday there has been more civilian deaths than before. This sends a wrong message as drone attacks kills civilians it recruits more terrorists than killing them. United States is becoming the new Soviet in that region which is a bad sign for United States (Ignatius, 2011). United States can’t leave Pakistan on its own as the country is in chaos and Pakistan has always been important ally in that region and if Pakistan is left astray then Chinese influence will grow in which is bad for United States. As Hillary Clinton on 2009 quoted: “We have a kind of history of moving in and out of Pakistan, today the people we are fighting are the people we funded at one time against Soviet Union as we don’t want the Soviets to expand their influence in Asia. Let’s help the Mujahedeen with the help of ISI and Saudi wahabi money, let’s import that too and once the Soviets retreated we left Pakistan and said let them deal with all the stingers we created. Instead of helping them we sanctioned them. And now we are trying to make up for the lost time.” (CNN, April 2009). After Bin Laden’s death and as he was found in Pakistan there is a new strain relations between Pakistan and United States. Some speculation can Pakistan can be trusted or not? If United States and India attacks Pakistan then China would get involved in this which is not a good sign, may cause a third world war. China is the emerging power and history will repeat again like Soviet Union (Khan, 2011). The best thing United States can do is try to help Pakistan to fight the fundamentalists, keep it on the right tract by supporting it economically; in this way the Chinese influence would be less. Did Bin laden’s death and the speculating fundamentalists’ threats will recruit more terrorists? U.S.A. wouldn’t like to leave Pakistan but Pakistan doesn’t want United States in their country (Ignatius, 2011). Even Bill Clinton has said recently, United States need Pakistan and they are an important and hopefully the current administration can work some way out (CNN Morning, 2011). Currently, after the 2013 elections in Pakistan, can Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif bring back the similar relations with US like in the 90’s?


President Bill Clinton with Prime Minister Nawaz sharif

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