Pakistan wants good relations with the United States, but with dignity | By Col Muhammad Hanif (R)

Pakistan wants good relations with the United States, but with dignity

PAKISTAN wishes good relations with the United States, based on mutual respect and dignity. In this context, the people of Pakistan felt dishonored and disturbed when they learned from the media that a senior American diplomat had conveyed to the Pakistani ambassador the likely consequences for Pakistan of the success or failure of the then-expected no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, likely to indicate US displeasure with the Pakistani Prime Minister’s visit to Russia and Pakistan’s neutral stance on the Ukraine crisis.

The nation of Pakistan felt that such diplomatic expressions amounted to interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan, as also indicated by the demarche handed over by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan to the US Ambassador.

On the other hand, when India, as the main defense partner of the United States, adopted a similar policy towards Russia by remaining neutral on the Ukrainian crises, the United States tolerated the policy India as Foreign and Defense Secretaries while visiting India recently announced that the United States and India have agreed to disagree on the Ukrainian crises and will advance relations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Already, for a long time, the Pakistani people have had a strong perception that Pakistan has always been treated harshly and abandoned by the United States as a close ally. This is evident if we look at the history of relations between the two countries as friends.

For example, first of all, during the 1965 war with India, the United States stopped supplying military spare parts to Pakistan, despite being its Cold War ally and India, although apparently unaligned, but actually pro (former) Soviet Union.

Second, Pakistan lost its (former) East Pakistan, following the blatant Indian military aggression in 1971 by creating and supporting East Pakistan separatists to create Bangladesh, when the former USSR, having a pact of defense with India, has openly supported that country, and the United States has abandoned its Cold War ally, Pakistan, by not providing the required military support.

Third, as Pakistan supported the United States in its sponsored guerrilla warfare against the military intervention of the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, after the withdrawal of the Soviet army, the United States suddenly left Afghanistan without providing the necessary economic aid to Pakistan to install the mujahideen, and also to feed five million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, thus subjecting it to long-term economic pressure and internal security problems.

And, while waging the war on terror in Afghanistan as a US ally for 20 years, while US/NATO forces suffered around 2,500 casualties, Pakistan sacrificed over 80,000 people and suffered economic losses of approximately $120, which was far more than the US economic/military aid provided to Pakistan.

During the last years of the war, the United States not only openly criticized Pakistan’s role in this war, but also ended its economic and military aid.

Moreover, the US has not stopped India from sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan using Afghan soil.

Moreover, while the United States signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008 and indirectly recognized it as a nuclear power, it refused to treat its non-NATO ally, the Pakistan.

Later, while the US made India their strategic/close defense partner as part of their Indo-Pacific strategy, they totally ignored Pakistan just because Pakistan signed the CPEC agreement with China in 2014 and that India opposed it.

Moreover, while the United States never criticizes India for its human rights abuses/atrocities in Indian-occupied Kashmir, neither has it condemned India’s actions on August 5, 2019, when they divided occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories in complete violation of UNSC resolutions.

Therefore, all along it appeared that the United States preferred India to Pakistan, thus hurting the feelings of the Pakistani people.

Compared to Pakistan, what has India given the United States in return as a major defense partner?

India refused to support US in UN/UNSC resolutions against Russia, it did not support US/NATO sanctions against Russia, it bought the S-400 anti-missile system and buys cheaper oil from Russia.

Yet the United States has accepted India’s policy towards Russia. Conversely, the United States pressured Pakistan to take sides against Russia.

While it is a declared policy of Pakistan that it will not belong to any side on the world stage, and that it will support all peace efforts in the world.

And, he will focus on his economic development, and he wants good relations with all the major powers, including the United States.

In the context of the United States grossly preferring India to Pakistan, they should realize that, as India disappointed the United States in the case of Russia, it would not support them either to contain the China.

The United States must also realize that India has moved closer to becoming a major world power and a permanent member of the UNSC.

And, after that, India is more likely to become non-aligned or part of the Asian strategic triangle it aspires to.

Therefore, given India’s questionable behavior as a close defense partner of the United States, the United States should seriously consider why treat Pakistan harshly and not develop good relations with it as a responsible military/nuclear power equal to India, with economic potential to promote US CPEC-related investment/trade and facilitate its relations with Afghanistan, Central Asia, China and the Muslim world.

As participants in the recent security dialogue in Islamabad also stated, the United States should realize that the people of Pakistan and all of their decision makers, including their former Prime Minister Imran Khan, want to maintain good relations with him, but for that he must take the initiative to treat Pakistan with dignity, respect its neutral foreign policy based on geoeconomics rather than geopolitics, and invest in CPEC and other economic projects rather than support India’s opposing position on CPEC.

And that the United States should advance its relationship with Pakistan independently of its relationship with India.

—The author is also a former researcher at IPRI and senior researcher at SVI Islamabad.