Pakistan – United States relations are the relations between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the United States of America. The United States established diplomatic relations with Pakistan started on October 20, 1947. The relationship since then was based primarily on U.S. economic and military assistance to Pakistan. Pakistan is a Major non-NATO ally of the United States.
Military pacts and suspension of aid
Pakistan's partnership in the Baghdad Pact, CENTO and SEATO strengthened relations between the two nations. At the time, its relationship with the U.S. was so close and friendly that it was called the United States' "most-allied ally" in Asia. The U.S. suspension of military assistance during the 1965 Pakistan-India war generated a widespread feeling in Pakistan that the United States was not a reliable ally. Even though the United States suspended military assistance to both countries involved in the conflict, the suspension of aid affected Pakistan much more severely, as India still received aid from Soviet Union.
The U.S had used U-2 spy planes that took off from Peshawar, Pakistan to reconnoitre sites in the Soviet Union since 1957.
Gradually, relations improved and arms sales were renewed in 1975. Then, in April 1979, the United States cut off economic assistance to Pakistan, except food assistance, as required under the Symington Amendment to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, due to concerns about Pakistan's nuclear program.
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 highlighted the common interest of Pakistan and the United States in peace and stability in South Asia. In 1981, Pakistan and the United States agreed on a $3.2 billion military and economic assistance program aimed at helping Pakistan deal with the heightened threat to security in the region and its economic development needs. With U.S. assistance – in the largest covert operation in history – Pakistan armed and supplied anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan, eventually defeating the Soviets, who withdrew in 1988.
Recognizing national security concerns and accepting Pakistan's assurances that it did not intend to construct a nuclear weapon, Congress waived restrictions (Symington Amendment) on military assistance to Pakistan. In March 1986, the two countries agreed on a second multi-year (FY 1988–93) $4-billion economic development and security assistance program. On October 1, 1990, however, the United States suspended all military assistance and new economic aid to Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment, which required that the President certify annually that Pakistan "does not possess a nuclear explosive device."
India's decision to conduct nuclear tests in May 1998 and Pakistan's matching response set back U.S. relations in the region, which had seen renewed U.S. Government interest during the second Clinton Administration. A presidential visit scheduled for the first quarter of 1998 was postponed and, under the Glenn Amendment, sanctions restricted the provision of credits, military sales, economic assistance, and loans to the government. An intensive dialogue on nuclear nonproliferation and security issues between Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad and Deputy Secretary Talbott was initiated, with discussions focusing on CTBT signature and ratification, FMCT negotiations, export controls, and a nuclear restraint regime. The October 1999 overthrow of the democratically elected Sharif government triggered an additional layer of sanctions under Section 508 of the Foreign Appropriations Act which include restrictions on foreign military financing and economic assistance. U.S. Government assistance to Pakistan was limited mainly to refugee and counter-narcotics assistance.
Alliance with US
Prior to the September 11 attacks in 2001, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were key supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan, as part of their "strategic depth" objective vis-a-vis India, Iran, Russia and to try to bring stability to Afghanistan after years of civil war following the Soviet withdrawal. The Taliban, being primarily Sunni and Pushtun, are of the same ethnic origin as Pakistanis on the other side of the Afghan border and were natural allies. However U.S initially did support Taliban, but later pulled support.
After 9/11, Pakistan, led by General Pervez Musharraf, reversed course under pressure from the United States and joined the "War on Terror" as a US ally. Having failed to convince the Taliban to hand over bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda, Pakistan provided the U.S. a number of military airports and bases for its attack on Afghanistan, along with other logistical support. Since 2001, Pakistan has arrested over five hundred Al-Qaeda members and handed them over to the United States; senior U.S. officers have been lavish in their praise of Pakistani efforts in public while expressing their concern that not enough was being done in private. However, General Musharraf was strongly supported by the Bush administration – a common theme throughout Pakistan's relations with the US has been US support of military dictators to the detriment of democracy in Pakistan.
In return for their support, Pakistan had sanctions lifted and has received about $10 billion in U.S. aid since 2001, primarily military. In June 2004, President George W. Bush designated Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally, making it eligible, among other things, to purchase advanced American military technology.
Pakistan has lost thousands of lives since joining the U.S. war on terror in the form of both soldiers and civilians, and is currently going through a critical period. Suicide bombs are now commonplace in Pakistan, whereas they were unheard of prior to 9/11. The Taliban have been resurgent in recent years in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have been created internally in Pakistan, as they have been forced to flee their homes as a result of fighting between Pakistani forces and the Taliban in the regions bordering Afghanistan and further in Swat. In addition, the economy is in an extremely fragile position.
A key campaign argument of U.S. President Barack Obama's was that the US had made the mistake of "putting all our eggs in one basket" in the form of General Musharraf. Musharraf was eventually forced out of office under the threat of impeachment, after years of political protests by lawyers, civilians and other political parties in Pakistan. With President Obama coming into office, the U.S. is expected to triple non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion per year over 10 years, and to tie military aid to progress in the fight against militants. The purpose of the aid is to help strengthen the relatively new democratic government led by President Zardari and to help strengthen civil institutions and the general economy in Pakistan, and to put in place an aid program that is broader in scope than just supporting Pakistan's military.
Aid from the United States since 9/11
See also: Foreign aid to Pakistan
Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally as part of the War on Terrorism, and a leading recipient of U.S. aid .
Post Independence: 1947–52
|Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan meeting President Truman (during the 1950s |
when Pakistani Prime minister made a good will tour in the U.S)
After Pakistan's independence by the partitioning of the British Raj, Pakistan followed a pro-western policy. The Indian government followed a different, non-aligned policy stance, which leaned closer to the Soviet Union rather than the United States of America. Pakistan was seeking strong alliances to counter its neighbour, India. At this time, India was neutral and went on to be a part of Non Aligned Movement.
Ayub Khan era: 1952–69
Pakistan joined the US led military alliances SEATO and CENTO. In 1954 the United States signed a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with Pakistan.
Partition of East Pakistan: 1969–72
See also: Bangladesh Liberation War
President Richard Nixon used Pakistan's relationship with China to start secret contacts with China which resulted with Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in July 1971 while visiting Pakistan. America supported Pakistan throughout the war and supplied weapons to West Pakistan although Congress had passed a bill suspending exporting weapons to the nation. Near the end of the war and fearing Pakistan's defeat by the joint forces of Mukti Bahini and Indian forces, Nixon ordered the USS Enterprise into the Indian Ocean, although it was never used for actual combat.
Zia era: 1977–1988
In 1979, a group of Pakistani students burned the American embassy in Islamabad to the ground killing two Americans.
In the 1980s, Pakistan agreed to pay $658 million for 28 F-16 fighter jets from the United States; however the American congress froze the deal citing objections to Pakistani nuclear ambitions. Under the terms of the American cancellation, they kept both the money and the planes, leading to angry claims of theft by Pakistanis.
Democratic governments: 1988–1998
The stage was set for a very tumultuous situation; the 1990s was an era of intense upheaval in Pakistan. Pakistan found itself in a state of extremely high insecurity as tensions mounted with India and Afghanistan’s infighting continued. Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S. was strained due to factors such as its support for the Taliban and public distancing of the Pakistani government from the U.S. However the U.S. initially supported the Taliban
After the September 11 attacks in 2001 in the United States, Pakistan became a key ally in the war on terror with the United States. In 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush strongly encouraged Pakistan government to join the U.S. war on terror, as a result Pakistan joined the U.S. war. Pervez Musharraf acknowledges the payments received for captured terrorists in his book:
We've captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We've earned bounties totaling millions of dollars
—Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf
In 2003, the U.S. officially forgave US$1 billion in Pakistani debt in a ceremony in Pakistan as one of the rewards for Pakistan joining the U.S. war on terror. "Today's signing represents a promise kept and another milestone in our expanding partnership," U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell said in a statement, "The forgiveness of $1 billion in bilateral debt is just one piece of a multifaceted, multibillion dollar assistance package." The new relationship between the United States and Pakistan is not just about September 11,' Powell said. "It is about the rebirth of a long-term partnership between our two countries." However Pakistan support of the U.S. and its war has angered many Pakistanis that do not support it., April 2010
In October 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a statement where she "promised ... that the United States will support the country's earthquake relief efforts and help it rebuild" after the Kashmir Earthquake .
On 11 June 2008, a US airstrike on the Afghan-Pakistani border killed 10 members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps. The Pakistani military condemned the airstrike as an act of aggression, souring the relations between the two countries..However after the drone attacks in June, President Bush had said 'Pakistan is strong ally '..Western officials have claimed nearly 70%( roughly $3.4 billion) of the aid given to the Pakistani military has been misspent in 2002–2007.However U.S-Pakistani relationship has been a transactional based and U.S military aid to Pakistan has been shrouded in secrecy for several years until recently ..Furthermore a significant proportion of U.S. economic aid for Pakistan has ended up back in the U.S., as funds are channeled through large U.S. contractors. A U.S. lawmaker also said a large sum of U.S. economic aid has not left the U.S. as it spent on consulting fees and overhead cost.
In the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, the United States informed Pakistan that it expected full cooperation in the hunt for the plotters of the attacks.
United States-Pakistan skirmishes
Main articles: Pakistan-United States skirmishes and Drone attacks in Pakistan
The United States and Pakistan have experienced several military confrontations on the Durand Line. These skirmishes took place between American forces deployed in Afghanistan, and Pakistani troops guarding the border. These incidents ended and reportedly caused no casualties.
|Clinton with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani during an October 2009 visit to Islamabad.|
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson addressed senior bureaucrats at the National Management College and emphasized that the United States will assist Pakistan’s new democratic government in the areas of development, stability, and security. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations World Food Program, in Pakistan, officially announced the signing of an agreement valued at $8.4 million to help ease Pakistan's crisis.
The CIA believes Osama Bin Laden to be hiding in Pakistan. India and U.S. have time to time accused Pakistan of giving safe-haven to the Taliban,. But Pakistan denied it every time.
On 14 September 2009, former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, admitted that U.S. Foreign Aid to Pakistan was diverted by the country from its original purpose to fighting the Taliban, to prepare for war against neighboring India.. The United States government has responded by stating that they will take these allegations seriously..However Pervez Musharraf also said '"Wherever there is a threat to Pakistan, we will use it [equipment provided by the US] there. If the threat comes from al-Qaeda or Taliban, it will be used there. If the threat comes from India, we will most surely use it there,".
In late 2009, Hillary Clinton made a speech in Pakistan about the war against the militants where she said "we commend the Pakistani military for their courageous fight, and we commit to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Pakistani people in your fight for peace and security."
On December 1, 2009, President Barack Obama in a speech on a policy about Pakistan said "In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over.... The Pakistani people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed."
In the aftermath of the thwarted bombing attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a new set of screening guidelines that includes pat-downs for passengers from countries of interest, which includes Pakistan. In a sign of widening fissures between the two allies, Pakistan on January 21 declined a request by the United States to launch new offensives on militants in 2010 . Pakistan say it "can't launch any new offensives against militants for six months to a year because it wants to 'stabilizes' previous gains made. However the U.S praises Pakistan's military effort against the militants.. Furthermore Pakistan president, in meeting with the U.S. delegation, had said Pakistan "had suffered a... loss of over 35 billion dollars during the last eight years as a result of the fight against militancy." But the President also said for "greater Pak-US cooperation".
In October 2009, the U.S. Congress approved $7.5 billion of non-military aid to Pakistan over the next five years. In February 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama sought to increase funds to Pakistan to "promote economic and political stability in strategically important regions where the United States has special security interests"..Obama also sought $3.1 billion aid for Pakistan to defeat Al Qaeda for 2010.
In February 2010, Anne W. Patterson (U.S. Ambasador to Pakistan) said that the United States is committed to partnership with Pakistan and further said “Making this commitment to Pakistan while the U.S. is still recovering from the effects of the global recession reflects the strength of our vision. Yet we have made this commitment, because we see the success of Pakistan, its economy, its civil society and its democratic institutions as important for ourselves, for this region and for the world.”
Between 2002–2010, Pakistan received approximately 18 billion in military and economic aid from the United States. In February 2010, the Obama administration requested an additional 3 billion in aid, for a total of 20.7 billion.
In mid February, after the capture of Taliban No.2 leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Pakistan the White house 'hails capture of Taliban leader'.Furthemore White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that this is a "big success for our mutual efforts(Pakistan and United States)in the region" and He praised Pakistan for the capture, saying it is a sign of increased cooperation with the U.S. in the terror fight..Furthermore Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said 'We also strongly support Pakistani efforts to secure the border region,Kirby added, noting that Pakistan has lost soldiers in that effort.'Mullen, (President Barack Obama's senior military adviser)has made strengthening 'U.S. military relationship with Pakistan a top priority'.The U.S. and Pakistan have a robust working relationship that serves the mutual interests of our people,' Kirby said. "We continue to build a long-term partnership that strengthens our common security and prosperity.".
In March, Richard Holbrooke U.S special envoy to Pakistan had said U.S.-Pakistani relations have seen 'significant improvement' under Obama. Furthermore he also said 'No government on earth has received more high-level attention' than Pakistan
Military aid from the United States
See also: Foreign aid to Pakistan
Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally as part of the War on Terrorism. A leading recipient of US military aid, Pakistan will expect to receive approximately 1.3 billion for 2010. 25% of the military is subsidized by the US government.