The US congress passed the National Defence Authorisation Act for 2019 on last Thursday in which it reduced security assistance to Pakistan from $ 750 million to $ 150 million annually. Since the advent of Trump administration the US has been employing different tactics to put Pakistan under pressure and the relations between the two countries are in a perpetual nosedive. The US was also instrumental in pushing Pakistan to the grey list by FATF recently and the statement by US Secretary of State on IMF loan to Pakistan last week is yet another unfriendly act by the so-called long-time friend of Pakistan.
Nothing would explain our relationship with United States of America better than this Urdu couplet “Barey logon se milney mein zara tum fasla rakhna. Miley Darya Samunder sey tow who Darya naheen rehta”. The English rendering of which is that one should keep appropriate distance from the mighty while dealing with them because when a river falls into the sea it loses its identity. The quoted lines reiterate an eternal truth that there cannot be friendship between two un-equals. But alas! Immediately after independence, the architects of our foreign policy jumped into the lap of a superpower thousands miles away by joining SEATO and CENTO in complete disregard to this common wisdom. It was ostensibly done to ward off Indian threat to our security and territorial integrity but the move earned us the animosity of the other superpower which was our neighbour and also locked in a cold war with the former.
We paid a heavy price for this fallacious move in the form of dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 when the former USSR who considered us an enemy for our alliance with USA, signed a defence pact with India and strengthened its military capability to inflict military defeat on us while the America remained a silent spectator. The much trumpeted arrival of the sixth fleet never materialised. The dismemberment of Pakistan falsified the premise on which we had built our relations with USA. It was a classic example of betrayal by a so-called friend and ally.
Even earlier during the 1965 war with India the Americans did not help us contending—-contrary to our perceptions—-that the alliance was only against the communist threat. What to talk of help the US even stopped supply of military hardware to Pakistan during the war. Thanks to Chinese help and the support extended by Iran and Turkey in that hour of crisis that we were able to salvage some of our national pride.
The war made it abundantly clear that our security lay in having good and friendly relations with the countries of the region rather than joining alliances meant to serve the interests of the imperialists. But regrettably despite the foregoing set-backs and reversals, we failed to revisit the foreign policy options. Even more painful was the fact that those who orchestrated our alliance with US still did not accept the irrationality of their decision and continued to pursue the path of self-destruction by persisting with their trust in relations with her, whose only objective was to use Pakistan for furthering its strategic interests in this region and at the global level.
The trail of betrayals by our so-called friend did not end there. When India exploded its first nuclear device in 1974, the Americans did not raise any alarm against the move. But when Pakistan started its nuclear programme it adopted extremely hostile stance and even clamped sanctions against her. The notorious Pressler Amendment which was entirely Pakistan specific spoke volumes about the discriminatory attitude of US towards Pakistan. The signing of nuclear cooperation deal with India and facilitation of NSG waiver for her was yet another unfriendly act against Pakistan by the US. The US used Pakistan in the Afghan war to defeat the USSR and immediately pulled out leaving Pakistan to deal with the ‘frankenstein’ of Taliban and the Jihadi and drug culture.
In the aftermath of 9/11 the Americans were back again and coerced Musharraf into joining the war on terror as a frontline state. The war on terror gradually became our war on terror. During this war the US has been pummelling our sovereignty through drone attacks on our soil, Salala attack and the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden at Abbottabad. It has all along accused Pakistan of double dealing by providing safe havens to terrorist outfits, especially Haqqanis. It refuses to be convinced about sincerity of Pakistan in spite of the fact that it has given sacrifices of 70 thousand lives and sustained colossal economic losses to the tune of $120 billion. Even indiscriminate action against terrorist outfits based in North Waziristan through Zarb-e-Azb and the cleansing process of their supporters and sympathizers and any of the remnants of terrorists on the run through operation Radul Fasad, have regrettably failed to remove the haze. It has not given any consideration to the efforts made by Pakistan at the bilateral and multilateral forums to promote the process of Afghan-led and Afghan owned process of reconciliation in Afghanistan.
The pressure that the Trump administration is trying to exert on Pakistan and the threats that it has thought appropriate to hurl at her negate the diplomatic norms of inter-state relations. Nobody threatens the partners and allies the way it is being done now.
The foregoing facts prove it beyond any iota of doubt that US was never ever our friend and ally and has invariably cheated and betrayed us. The time now has come to revisit our relations with the US. However utmost caution and restraint is needed while dealing with a hostile ally and the only Super Power of the world, headed by a character like President Trump.
Pakistan simply cannot afford confrontation and rupture of relations with USA. Under the circumstances it needs to upgrade its diplomatic offensive for pleading its case and engaging the US administration at all levels for unravelling the ground realities to remove the ambience of mistrust and winning their continued support to take the fight against terrorism to its logical end. In this regard the support of friendly countries can also be solicited.
It is an irrefutable reality that the conflict in Afghanistan and elimination of terrorism need a collaborative effort of the regional countries and the US if the latter really wants it. In fact without US being on board no solution is possible and vice versa the US also cannot resolve this conundrum without cooperation of the regional countries, particularly Pakistan. The US needs to understand that. Any approach contrary to this is going to have boomerang effect which could consign the region to perennial instability also jeopardising US strategic interests in the region.
n The writer is a freelance columnist.