FOREIGN POLICY OF PAKISTAN
Pakistan's foreign policy has been marked by a complex balancing process--the result of its history, religious heritage, and geographic position. The primary objective of that policy has been to preserve Pakistan's territorial integrity and security, which have been in jeopardy since the state's inception.
A new era began with the partition of British India in 1947 and the formation of two independent, sovereign states--India and Pakistan. Both nations searched for their place in the world order and aspired to leadership roles beyond the subcontinent.
India and Pakistan became adversaries at independence and have so remained. The two countries fought each other shortly after partition, in 1965, and in 1971, causing the dismemberment of Pakistan and the creation of still another new sovereign entity--Bangladesh. India-Pakistan rivalry intensified rather than diminished after the Cold War, and the Kashmir territorial dispute remains dangerous and recurrent.
Pakistan sought security through outside alliances. The new nation painstakingly worked on building a relationship with the United States, in which the obligations of both sides were clearly defined. The Western-oriented, anticommunist treaties and alliances Pakistan joined became an important part of its foreign policy. Pakistan also saw itself as a vanguard of independent Muslim states.
RELATIONS WITH INDIA
A major focus in Pakistan's foreign policy is the continuing quest for security against India, its large, more powerful, and generally hostile neighbor. Pakistan was created despite the opposition of the most powerful political party in prepartition India, the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress, and the suspicion remains among Pakistanis that India has never reconciled itself to the existence of an independent Pakistan. Several events further soured the relationship. One of these was the massive transfer of population between the two countries at partition, with its attendant bloodshed as Muslims left India and Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan. There was also bitterness over the distribution of financial assets left by the British, with India initially blocking payments to Pakistan from the joint sterling account. An even more complex issue was the sovereignty of Kashmir, a concern arising from the accession of the princely states to India or Pakistan at partition. Although almost all of these states made the choice quickly, based on geographic location and the religious majority of their population, several delayed. One of these was Hyderabad, with a predominantly Hindu population and a Muslim ruler who did not want to accede to India. Hyderabad was a landlocked state in the south of India, and Indian military intervention was used to incorporate it into India.
The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (usually referred to as Kashmir), however, had a Hindu ruler and boundaries with both Pakistan and India. Although Muslims constituted a majority of the state's population, the Hindu-Sikh community made up the majority in the province of Jammu, and Buddhists predominated around Ladakh. After a popular uprising against the Hindu ruler in late 1947, supported by Pakistani tribesmen and some military units, the ruler panicked and acceded to India. The subsequent Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48 over control of Kashmir concluded with a cease-fire brokered by the United Nations (UN), which took effect on January 1, 1949. Kashmir was divided by a UN line between the areas held by the two countries, and a 1949 UN Security Council resolution provided for a plebiscite to be held under UN auspices to decide the issue of accession. India has refused to hold the plebiscite, and the dispute has continued. In 1965 war broke out again between the two countries over Kashmir, ending in another cease-fire in September. The Tashkent Declaration, signed on January 10, 1966, under the auspices of the Soviet Union, provided for restoration of the India-Pakistan international boundary and the Kashmir cease-fire line but did not result in a permanent solution to the problem.
Relations between the two countries reached a new low in 1971, when India intervened militarily in support of secessionist forces in East Pakistan, thus playing an instrumental role in the creation of independent Bangladesh. Although the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was fought over East Pakistan, heavy fighting also occurred along the Kashmir cease-fire line. Consequently, under the Simla Agreement of 1972 following the end of that war, the cease-fire line in Kashmir was redefined (it is now usually referred to as the Line of Control), and India and Pakistan agreed not to use force in Kashmir. The agreement also improved relations sufficiently for India to release some 90,000 prisoners of war taken when Pakistan's army had surrendered in East Pakistan.
The circumstances surrounding the conflict over Kashmir changed considerably over the years, as have the levels of UN involvement in the dispute. The military balance between India and Pakistan after the latter's defeat in the 1971 war heavily favored India. Another changed circumstance is that beginning in 1989, India has had to face a virtual "Kashmiri intifada" in its repressive efforts to keep a sullen and predominantly Muslim Kashmiri populace under control. This insurrection, India claimed, was supported by the "hidden hand" of Pakistan. Furthermore, the situation became even more complex with a growing movement among certain factions of Kashmiri militants for an independent Kashmiri state, precluding accession to either India or Pakistan. The volatile and potentially explosive situation in Kashmir continued to be monitored in 1994 by a team of UN observers, who operated under significant constraints. The Kashmir dispute continues to be the major deterrent to improved relations between the two countries.
Pakistan's suspicions of Indian intentions were further aroused by India's entry into the nuclear arena. India's explosion of a nuclear device in 1974 persuaded Pakistan to initiate its own nuclear program. The issue has subsequently influenced the direction of Pakistan's relations with the United States and China. United States-Pakistan relations over the nuclear issue are particularly prickly. Pakistan's relations with China on this issue, however, have been influenced by both countries' suspicions of India. In 1991 China called on India to accept Pakistan's proposal of a nuclear-free weapons zone in South Asia. In the same year, Pakistan and China signed a nuclear cooperation treaty reportedly intended for peaceful purposes. This agreement included provision by China of a nuclear power plant to Pakistan.
An added source of tension in Indo-Pakistani relations concerned the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. India refused to condemn the Soviet action, while Pakistan provided sanctuary for Afghan refugees and was a conduit for supplying arms from the United States and others to the Afghan mujahidin. During the Soviet Union's military intervention in Afghanistan, therefore, Pakistan felt an increased threat on both its eastern and northwestern borders. The rise of militant Hinduism in India, and the accompanying violence against Muslims there, was a further source of uneasiness between the two countries
Pakistan's desire for maximum balance and diversification in its external relations has also led to close relations with China--a valuable geopolitical connection. In 1950 Pakistan recognized the new People's Republic of China, the third noncommunist state and the first Muslim country to do so. The deterioration in Sino-Indian relations that culminated in the 1962 border war provided new opportunities for Pakistan's relations with China. The two countries reached agreement on the border between them, and a road was built linking China's Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region with the Northern Areas of Pakistan. China supported Pakistan diplomatically in both its 1965 and 1971 wars with India and provided Pakistan with economic and military assistance. Pakistan's China connection enabled it to facilitate the 1971 visit of United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger to that country, and in the 1980s China and the United States supplied military and economic assistance through Pakistan to the Afghan mujahidin fighting the Soviet occupation forces. Pakistan's ties with China remain strong, and friendly relations between the two countries continue to be an important factor in Pakistan's foreign policy.
Pakistan also maintains close relations with the Islamic countries of the Middle East. These ties are important for religious, strategic, political, and economic reasons. In 1955 Pakistan, together with Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, joined the Baghdad Pact, a security arrangement later called the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) after Iraq's withdrawal. CENTO was buttressed in 1964 by a regional arrangement among Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey called the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), and economic cooperation activities overshadowed the security aspects of the countries' relations. CENTO was disbanded in 1979 with the overthrow of Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi's government in Iran, and the RCD dissolved. The RCD was effectively revived in 1984 as the ECO.
Pakistan's foreign policy fostered stronger ties with the Middle East through expanded trade. In addition, Pakistani workers employed in the Persian Gulf states, Libya, and Iran provided remittances to Pakistan that were a major source of foreign-exchange earnings. The loss of remittances caused by the 1991 Persian Gulf War was a serious concern to Pakistan. During the war, Pakistani units were sent to Saudi Arabia as components of the multinational forces. Pakistan has also contributed to the defense systems of several Arab states, supplying both officers and men. Pakistan has strengthened its Islamic ties by playing a leading role in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and has also supported the Palestinian cause, withholding recognition of Israel.
Pakistan's ties with Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states were strained during the 1990-91 crisis in the gulf. Although a member of the United States-led international coalition, Pakistan played only a limited role, sending a force of 11,000 troops tasked with "protecting" religious sites in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, during the war a vocal segment of public opinion in Pakistan supported ousting the Kuwaiti monarch and approved of Saddam Husayn's defiance of the United States-led coalition. The then chief of the army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg, also expressed support for Iraq, resulting in further embarrassment for Pakistan's government. Following the Persian Gulf War, Pakistan undertook diplomatic efforts to recover its position in the region. In addition, many Pakistani expatriate workers returned to their jobs, and cooperative defense training activities continued. As a result, Pakistan largely restored its position as an influential player in the region.
The United States
Although Pakistan's foreign policy has been dominated by problems with India as well as by efforts to maximize its own external support, its relationship with the West, particularly Britain and the United States, was of major importance. At independence in 1947, Pakistan became a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. After independence Pakistan retained Britons in high administrative and military positions. Britain also was the primary source of military supplies and officer training. Many of Pakistan's key policy makers, including the nation's founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had studied in Britain and had great faith in the British sense of justice. Over the years, however, there was disillusionment at what Pakistanis perceived as Britain's indifference toward Pakistan and its failure to treat Pakistan fairly in dealings where India was involved. Nevertheless, Pakistan remained in the Commonwealth even after the country became a republic under the constitution of 1956. Pakistan withdrew its membership in the Commonwealth in 1972 to protest the recognition of Bangladesh by Britain, Australia, and New Zealand but rejoined in October 1989 under Benazir's first government.
Pakistan's relations with the United States developed against the backdrop of the Cold War. Pakistan's strategic geographic position made it a valuable partner in Western alliance systems to contain the spread of communism. In 1954 Pakistan signed a Mutual Defense Agreement with the United States and subsequently became a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and CENTO. These agreements placed Pakistan in the United States sphere of influence. Pakistan was also used as a base for United States military reconnaissance flights over Soviet territory. During the Cold War years, Pakistan was considered one of Washington's closest allies in Asia.
Pakistan, in return, received large amounts of economic and military assistance. The program of military assistance continued until the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War when President Lyndon B. Johnson placed an embargo on arms shipments to Pakistan and India. The United States embargo on arms shipments to Pakistan remained in place during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and was not lifted until 1975, during the administration of President Gerald R. Ford.
United States-Pakistani relations preceding the 1971 war were characterized by poor communication and much confusion. The administration of President Richard M. Nixon was forced to formulate a public stance on the brutal crackdown on East Pakistanis by West Pakistani troops that began in March 25, 1971, and it maintained that the crackdown was essentially an internal affair of Pakistan in which direct intervention of outside powers was to be avoided. The Nixon administration expressed its concern about human rights violations to Pakistan and restricted the flow of assistance--yet it stopped short of an open condemnation.
Despite the United States widely publicized "tilt" toward Pakistan during the 1971 war, Pakistan's new leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, felt betrayed. In his opinion, the United States could have prevented India from intervening in Pakistan's civil war, thereby saving his country the trauma of defeat and dismemberment. Bhutto now strove to lessen Pakistan's dependence on the United States.
The foreign policy Bhutto envisioned would place Pakistan at the forefront of Islamic nations. Issues central to the developing world would take precedence in foreign affairs over those of the superpowers. Bhutto called this policy "bilateralism," which implied neutrality in the Cold War with equal treatment accorded both superpowers. Bhutto's distancing of Islamabad from Washington and other Western links was accompanied by Pakistan's renewed bid for leadership in the developing world.
Following the loss of the East Wing, Pakistan withdrew from SEATO. Pakistan's military links with the West continued to decline throughout Bhutto's tenure in power and into the first years of the Zia regime. CENTO was disbanded following the fall of the shah of Iran in March 1979, and Pakistan then joined the Nonaligned Movement. Zia also continued Bhutto's policy of developing Pakistan's nuclear capability. This policy had originated as a defensive measure in reaction to India's explosion of a nuclear device in 1974. In April 1979, President Jimmy Carter cut off economic assistance to Pakistan, except for food assistance, as required under the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. This amendment called for ceasing economic assistance to nonnuclear weapon countries that imported uranium-enrichment technology. Relations between the United States and Pakistan were further strained in November 1979 when protesters sacked the United States embassy in Islamabad, resulting in the death of four persons. The violence had been sparked by a false report that the United States was involved in a fire at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 revived the close relationship between Pakistan and the United States. Initially, however, the Carter administration's offer the following month of US$400 million in economic and military aid to Pakistan was spurned by Zia, who termed it "peanuts." Under President Ronald Reagan, the United States agreed in 1981 to provide US$3.2 billion to Pakistan over a period of six years, equally divided between economic and military assistance. However, although the Symington Amendment was waived, the amount was subject to the annual appropriation process. A second economic and military assistance program was announced in 1986, this time for over US$4.0 billion, with 57 percent for economic assistance. The continuation of the war in Afghanistan led to waivers--in the case of Pakistan--of legislative restrictions on providing aid to countries with nuclear programs. The Pressler Amendment of 1985 required that if the United States president could not certify to Congress on an annual basis that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapon, United States assistance to that country would be cut off. For several years, the United States president, with Pakistan's assurances that its nuclear program was for peaceful uses, was able to make this certification. However, with the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and the end of the Cold War, the United States took a harder position on the nuclear weapons issue. In 1990 President George Bush refused to make the certification required under the Pressler Amendment, and assistance to Pakistan was subsequently terminated.
After 1990 Pakistan's retention of the nuclear option became a defining issue in its relations with the United States. Pakistan, like India, considered the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to be discriminatory--allowing the five acknowledged nuclear states to keep their weapons while banning others from joining the club. Pakistan declared that it would sign the treaty only in the unlikely event that India did so first. India refused to join any regional accord as long as China possessed nuclear weapons. Although the United States government continued to push both India and Pakistan for a regional solution to the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, Pakistan complained that it bore the brunt of United States antiproliferation policies.
The underpinnings of the long and close security relationship between the United States and Pakistan existed as of early 1994, although the 1954 Mutual Defense Agreement on which the relationship rested was increasingly regarded by some in the United States government as outdated--and thus less pertinent to the post-Cold War period. Moreover, despite Pakistan's differences with the position of the United States on nuclear and other issues, both countries were determined to maintain friendly relations.
The Former Soviet Union
In November 1992, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, and the five former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan created an extended Muslim economic block linking Asia and Europe. As a result, the expanded Economic Co-operation Organization (ECO), in terms of geographic territory covered, became the largest economic bloc after the European Community. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif noted in a speech marking the occasion that the ECO "now corresponds to the boundaries of the ancient area, which brought prosperity and civilization. . . through fruitful exchanges along the historic silk route. The people of these lands have a shared history and common spiritual and cultural values." Nawaz Sharif added his belief that extensive investment in infrastructure and encouragement of the private sector were the most important immediate objectives. He noted that Pakistan was building a major highway network to link Central Asia to the Arabian Sea and that its railroads were "poised to link not only member states but also ECO with Europe, Russia, and South Asia." He added that "peace in Afghanistan is essential for political harmony and fruitful cooperation in our entire region."
MUKHTIAR ALI SHAR