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An indecent rendezvous–I

Americans since the Kennedy years have been in romance with India. The credit for this goes to Jawaharlal Nehru’s charm and charisma. He endeared himself to John F Kennedy during his state visit to the US. He put on his oriental charm and westernised etiquette to best use during the visit. Earlier during the decades of the 1950s, Pakistan through sheer lack of political foresight caught itself in the mire of the Cold War. Having locked Pakistan into CENTO and SEATO agreements, the US sealed forever Pakistan’s status as an ‘aligned’ country. India on the other hand, in spite of being almost a ‘satellite’ state of the USSR, managed to not only remain ‘non-aligned’ but also led the non-aligned movement( NAM) during which time Nehru forged very close links with Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Soekarno of Indonesia.

The Sino-Indian war of 1962 brought the US closer to India. The fundamental and cardinal principle of US policy then was containment of Communist China and the USSR. Three years down the road in our military conflict with India, US remained largely cold: a spectator than an ally. It was the intervention of Aleksey Kosygin (Prime Minister) and Leonid Brezhnev (Secretary General) of the Soviet Union that led to ceasefire to the deadly war in September of 1965. This was followed by the Tashkent summit and agreement. In this agreement there was no compromise made in relation to Pakistan’s traditional stand on seeking for the Kashmiri brethren the right of self-determination and of self-rule. This is guaranteed by UN Resolutions that have remained unimplemented due to India’s belligerence and scant respect for international norms and diplomatic demands.

During the 1971 war with India, thanks to Richard Nixon’s personal averseness to Indira Gandhi, the US stood with Pakistan, albeit only ‘verbally’; there came no military help. All our friends, including China, Iran and Turkey, remained by-standers, largely. India under Indira Gandhi garnered full support of the international community in seeking the condemnation of what it referred to as part of its grand programme of propaganda: ‘the genocide’ in East Pakistan. The US and other friends watched Pakistan disintegrate. Irreversible damage had been done!

Post-1971, in the truncated Pakistan, Z A Bhutto assumed power through a transition under military dispensation. He attempted to build bridges with the United States; and was successful due to his own charisma and his personal friendship with the then Chinese leadership. Pakistan having facilitated the detente that led to the issuance of Shanghai Communiqué, which that was signed by President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Chou En Lai in 1972, Pakistan acquired prominence yet again in the scheme of US foreign policy. During Z A Bhutto’s state visit to the USA in 1974, Richard Nixon, the President, departed from normal protocol and went personally to receive him at Andrews Air Force Base hangar. The official welcome reception was held in the hangar due to a heavy cloudburst in Washington. In his welcome address, Nixon declared that the solidarity and territorial integrity of Pakistan shall always remain the corner-stone of the US foreign policy. That was Bhutto’s achievement. A new era dawned. Bhutto was later hanged on trumped-up charges of having ordered the assassination of a political opponent. In the run-up to Gen Zia’s takeover in July, 1977, Bhutto in multiple speeches accused the USA of his plight. He contended that he was paying a price for pursuing the nuclear programme that was meant for civilian use. The relationship got soured.

This relationship deteriorated during the early Zia years with a Democrat President in the White House, who was hostile towards Pakistan. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan brought US closer to Pakistan. For the protection of its geo-strategic interests, the US yet again baited Pakistan to fight a proxy war for them. Pakistan regrettably obliged. However, the 1979 December invasion by the Soviet Union had/has irrevocably damaged the socio-economic-political climate and culture of Pakistan. The post-9/11 events were marked by a blow hot and cold see-saw in the relationship. The demand to ‘do more’ became a nagging point.

India, on the other hand, during the decade starting from the 1970s till now, has kept itself engaged with the US and it also simultaneously started to mend fences with China without compromising their special status of relationship with the USSR/Russia.

They got the cake and were allowed to eat it too by the international establishment.

Narendra Modi recently made a State visit, the first among the several visits he had made earlier, to the US. Unlike the previous visits which in diplomatic parlance were working visits , this one was a State visit which in diplomatic nuances is an official visit at the invitation of the host country’s head of state. During State visits, the responsibility of giving the highest level of hospitality lies with the host nation. This largesse is not restricted to the chief guest but is made available to all members of the delegation. Typically in working visits the expense tab is taken up by the visiting country head, while in a State visit all costs, including accommodation and travel, are paid by the host country. This time around to Narendra Modi, the US President Joe Biden opened up all the coffers and laid out the brightest red carpet for the ‘butcher of Gujarat.’

During the visit Modi was not only flirted by Congressmen, business tycoons, government officials but even President Biden made no bones of his friendly overtures to India. The same United States until a few years back was refusing a visit visa to Modi when he was condemned by the international media and labelled as “butcher of Gujarat”, following his governments sponsored terrorism against Muslims of Gujarat state. And here, he was being courted as the most-favoured friend of the US.

Being the recipient to such warmth by the US administration, Modi left no opportunity in attacking Pakistan: directly or indirectly. His address to the Congress was punctuated with thunderous clapping of approval by the audience. There were chants of ‘Modi Modi Modi’ by the members of the joint sitting of US Congress. In front of an appreciative Congress, the saffron-soaked leader made a passionate and perfect case for India to be seen as a peace-loving country while the heinous crimes were being committed in Kashmir and the North East Indian provinces. Modi achieved the objective of making them understand that India represents to the world community a market of 1.5 billion people. He also conveyed to the American business tycoons a seductive investment policy, ensuring and assuring for them good returns and safety of capital.

Sirajuddin Aziz, "An indecent rendezvous–I," Business recorder. 2023-06-29.
Keywords: Political sciences , Cold war , Investment policy , World community , John F Kennedy , Aleksey Kosygin , Modi , Pakistan , America , India , CENTO , SEATO

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