Pakistan, Part I
In light of the recent coup in Pakistan, I thought I''d give a brief
background as to the past role of the U.S. with this new nuclear
British India achieved independence in 1947 and was partitioned
into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. The region has been a
true "hott spott" since then. The resulting mass migration and
communal violence claimed over 500,000 lives and it was in ''47
that the long-standing war with Kashmir began.
Pakistan was initially divided into 2 parts: E. Bengal and W.
Pakistan, 1,000 miles apart. In 1955 E. Bengal became E.
In 1971, E. Pakistan declared independence as Bangladesh.
Troops from W. Pakistan invaded and the ensuing civil war
killed hundreds of thousands while millions fled to India. India
was preparing to go to war with Pakistan. And it was this
conflict which also engulfed the Great Powers.
Back in ''71, the U.S. used the conflict on the Asian subcontinent
to its advantage. President Nixon and National Security Advisor
Henry Kissinger had been looking for ways to play off Moscow
India''s first prime minister, Nehru, spoke of non-alignment but
had then allied the nation with the Soviet Union, forcing Pakistan
to seek out the U.S. and China. But when Pakistan, which had
received large-scale American military assistance in the 1950s,
concluded that the U.S. would not help it assert its claims to
Kashmir, it turned in the 1960s increasingly toward Communist
China for support.
In ''71, the U.S. tilted towards Pakistan as Nixon increased arms
supplies to Pakistan as compensation for its services in
maintaining informal contacts with Beijing while Kissinger was
arranging Nixon''s opening of the door to China.
In August of ''71, the Soviet Union concluded a Treaty of
Friendship. As former Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin
describes it, "As long as India stayed outside the nuclear club,
the Soviet leadership considered granting it protection against a
nuclear threat by China, but caution prevailed."
The fear was of a full blown conflict between India and Pakistan,
involving W. Pakistan, as the civil war raged in the East. Nixon
and Kissinger assured the Pakistanis that, under an agreement
drafted by the Kennedy administration in 1962, the American
government would support Pakistan against Indian aggression.
Moscow actually played a positive role in preventing India from
attacking W. Pakistan. Kissinger ended up thanking Dobrynin
for Moscow''s part in preventing what may have evolved into
World War III. W. Pakistan eventually surrendered E. Pakistan
and Bangladesh was born.
In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. The U.S. stepped up
its support of Pakistan, Afghanistan''s neighbor, as there were
legitimate concerns that the Soviets would attack Pakistan from
Afghanistan. The ties were strengthened, even though Pakistan
certainly did not have a history of true democratic rule.
The coup that took place this week was the 4th military coup in
Pakistan''s 52-year history. The country has been ruled by the
military for 25 of its 52 years.
Former Pakistani President Ayub Khan, himself a former
General who led a coup in 1958, once told Richard Nixon that "it
is dangerous to be a friend of the U.S., that it pays to be neutral;
and that sometimes it helps to be an enemy."
We''ll explore this last statement in great detail, next week, as we
tie it to this week''s coup.
[Source: "In Confidence," by Anatoly Dobrynin; "Oxford
History of the 20th Century;"]