Pakistan’s foreign policy, like any other country, closely related to its internal policies. The political leaders of Pakistan, in different political eras, have tried to include security considerations, survival, territorial integrity and national interests of that country in the main axis of their foreign policy. Establishing close relations with America is one of the prominent examples of this policy. With the declaration of Pakistan’s independence, the country’s politicians believed that there are two ways to deal with internal and external threats; one, joining the Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union, two, attracting Washington’s attention and receiving aid as the focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Over time, the second option has approved. From the very beginning of its independence, Pakistan was, among other things, engaged with the United States in competition with India. Liaqat Ali’s visit to America in 1950 was the first step towards having strategic relations. In this trip, unlike Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Liaqat Ali made the purpose of his trip to America to attract the attention of that country and discover Pakistan. Although America had close relations with India, the occurrence of two political approaches in 1951 caused America to stay away from India and get closer to Pakistan. One, India’s role in important issues such as the Korean War. Two, the peace treaty with Japan. Both approaches caused India to join the West and turned America’s hopes into despair.
1. The history of relations between the United States of America and Pakistan
1-1. Before September 11
The relations between the two countries have had difficulties for six decades. Fluctuation in the relations between the two countries has been a function of a series of global regional developments and changes in the US regional foreign policy. The continuous influence of America in the military, administrative and even cultural and social structure on the one hand, the expansion of India’s relations with the Soviet Union on the other hand, became the cause of America’s dependence on Pakistan in order to secure the country’s regional interests. Besides this, the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran, the occupation of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union, and the proximity of that country to the warm waters of India, provided the ground for the establishment of deep relations between the United States and Pakistan. These relations became close to such an extent that the United States of America was involved in many internal and external affairs of Pakistan. However, with the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the Situ and Cento groups disbanded, and Pakistan, which had membership in both groups, joined the Non-Aligned Movement. However, it was actually know as one of America’s regional allies. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Pakistan weakness its position as a strategic ally with the United States and was neglected and sanctioned under the pretexts of accumulating nuclear weapons and supporting fundamentalist groups. In addition, India once again considered in the American regional policy. Between the years 1993-2001, Pakistan’s relations with America accompanied by vicissitudes. During the entire period of stagnation, Pakistan was in the regional foreign policy of America.
During Bill Clinton’s administration, US-Pakistan relations changed from a Cold War-oriented strategy to a policy of political balance between India and Pakistan. On the other hand, with the inauguration of Bush II, India became one of the main actors in security arrangements and global strategies, and the development of bilateral relations with India given attention by the Americans. The meetings between the foreign ministers of India and the United States and other officials of the two countries in 2001 showed the special attention of the Bush administration on the relations between the two countries, which at the same time affected the relations between the United States and Pakistan. After 9/11, India supported the coalition against terrorism. India took measures with full enthusiasm for strategic-intelligence and logistic cooperation and believed that America should fight and destroy the cross-border terrorism that threatens the security of that country (India). However, it did not take long before India faced a negative response from America. Because Pakistan, due to its geographical location and having close relations with the Taliban, played an effective role in implementing America’s regional policy. The foreign policy of the two countries has always faced many differences and challenges. These differences have led to the announcement of sanctions on Pakistan.
1-2. After the event of September 11
September 11 considered an important event and development in the internal and external relations of the United States of America. This event caused changes in South Asian equations. Pakistan, which has a special role and place in the regional relations of the Islamic world, once again became the focus of American foreign policy. On the other hand, Pakistan gave the green light to the United States to join the global anti-terrorism coalition, prepared the ground for military operations in Afghanistan, and made its military bases available to the American forces. Although this decision was difficult for the Pakistani authorities, Pervez Musharraf took action to gain more points. On the other hand, internal opposition also accompanied Musharraf’s decision.
2. Actions of the United States of America
In order to implement policies and achieve its regional goals, before and after the start of military operations, the United States took a number of different measures in cooperation with Pakistan. Based on its military approach against the Taliban and the fight against terrorism, America was able to take over a large part of Pakistan’s military and civilian facilities and moved troops, equipment and military equipment to that country. This performance of the United States caused the anger of anti-American political-religious groups. Despite numerous oppositions from political groups, Pakistani authorities have prepared the ground for the presence of America in that country. On the eve of the withdrawal of the American forces from Afghanistan, Pakistan informed the Americans about giving up the place for the establishment of military bases. This action of Pakistan shows the strategic depth of this country with America. The American authorities have not denied this issue either. General Tony Franks, the former US commander in chief, during his visit to Pakistan, said: “The United States does not intend to withdraw its military forces from Pakistan.” On the other hand, Islamabad’s Nation newspaper wrote, “America wanted to establish a military base in Pakistan and for this purpose, to rent 20,000 acres of land from the government of Pakistan.” Along with trying to establish military bases, America continued to make political efforts for a long-term presence in the region. Therefore, the United States not only tried to establish a military base to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, but also made efforts to establish military bases in the republics of Central Asia, which currently has an active military base in those countries. The purpose of the presence of American forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been to dominate the oil and gas resources and to keep getting closer to the remote area of Russia.
Overall, Pakistan has been an important player in the region since independence. This country according to sensitivities and conditions the global region has made security, survival and territorial integrity the focus of its foreign policy. Considering this performance of Pakistan in the foreign policy of that country, it has considered it necessary to have strategic relations with the United States of America. The relations between the two countries have accompanied by many difficulties during the past few decades. On the other hand, Pakistan has confirmed its commitment to be a regional ally of America. In this regard, Pakistan has gained more points. Currently, due to Pakistan’s role on the Taliban groups, it considered one of the main parties in Afghanistan’s peace talks with the United States and the international community.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of South Asia Strategic Research Center (GASAM)