Last week I browsed through a number of books authored by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, since I was asked by a TV channel to host a programme on Z A Bhutto's foreign policy for the thirtieth anniversary of his martyrdom. I had read nearly all the volumes twenty odd years earlier, but while glancing through Bhutto's The Myth of Independence (1969), I had a sense of dj vu while contemplating over Pakistan's relations vis--vis USA in the context of India and China. It appears that in the early sixties, despite Pakistan being a member of US sponsored SEATO and CENTO pacts, aimed at containing Communism and India being aligned with USSR, despite its pretences of being non-aligned; the USA was bent upon supporting India. Pakistan was at that time contemplating extending the hand of friendship to China. On the subject of Pakistan-China relations, Dr Kissinger is reported to have said that if Pakistan were "stupid enough" to make an alliance with China, "how long would Asia survive without a strong, independent India?" He also promised the Indians that the United States would support India against invasion from China as it could not permit China to destroy India. (Page 48 The Myth of Independence). USA provided India financial support and weapons, some of which were used in the 1965 War against Pakistan. President Kennedy and some of his advisers expressed themselves enthusiastically in favour of India. Many of them began to question military assistance to Pakistan. Mr Chester Bowles, for instance, said: "It was bad arithmetic to alienate 360 million Indians in order to please 80 million Pakistanis" (Page 45 The Myth of Independence). Mr Galbraith restated in late April 1963 that American aid to India was not dependent on a settlement of the Kashmir dispute; and Mr Nehru also confirmed, in the Lok Sabha on May 7, that both Mr Duncan Sandys and Mr Rusk had assured him that Britain and the United States were not linking the question of military aid to India with a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Such an attitude not only jeopardised the settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, but threatened the territorial integrity of Pakistan. (Page 50 The Myth of Independence). In the late sixties US intervention was resented, causing Mr Bhutto to comment: "Twenty years of independence have revealed to the people of Pakistan and India the sharp difference that really exists between independence and sovereign equality. The struggle to attain sovereign equality continues undiminished. Foreign domination has been replaced by foreign intervention, and the power to make decisions radically affecting the lives of our peoples has been curtailed by the cannons of neocolonialism." (Page 5 The Myth of Independence) It appears that the wheel of time has made a full revolution. We find similar compulsions in the decade of sixties vis--vis USA then as now. We find ourselves under constant demands to "do more" by USA despite being the most non-aligned non-NATO ally. Mr Bhutto provides good counsel in his book: "Confrontation with a Global Power should be avoided; but if it becomes unavoidable, it should be faced instantly and firmly. It is wiser to duck, detour, step aside, and enter from the back door. It is futile to try to win over or implore a Global Power to change its policies by continued direct efforts on the plea of justice or alignment. Reminders of services rendered in the past are of no avail. Neither cringing nor sycophancy, neither sentiment nor argument, carry any weight in such dealings. The simple fact of the matter is that, in the long run, a Global Power is not likely to be outwitted, so it is better for a small nation to take a realistic attitude and evolve both policy and strategy on rational rather than on subjective lines." (Page 12 The Myth of Independence) It's a pity that future foreign policy makers, who should have been circumspect while dealing with USA, did not pay heed to the guidance. We find that our nuclear programme was regarded with misgiving and distrust in the early seventies as it is now. In his book If I am Assassinated, written from the death cell, Mr Bhutto writes that he was threatened by Henry Kissinger to give up the quest for nuclear weapons and specially the nuclear reprocessing plant he had contracted to purchase from France. Kissinger had warned: "We will make an example of you." Shireen Tahirkheli has written that the outgoing US ambassador had confided to her that if Mr Bhutto did not give up the pursuit of the nuclear reprocessing plant, he could lose his seat as prime minister. It is history that Mr Bhutto lost not only his seat but also his life. The moment he was removed, France backed out of the contract to provide the reprocessing plant and Pakistan did not even protest. Such are the vicissitudes of life. It is imperative that those who wield the mantle of power depict pragmatism and learn from history rather than selling ourselves cheap for momentary gains. The writer is a political and defence analyst