US-Pak Ties Replay the Past.
- From: "Mike" <yard22192@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 6 Jul 2006 11:58:09 -0700
US-Pak Ties Replay the Past.
US-Pak Ties Replay the Past July 5, 2006
by Husain Haqqani
Soon after the 1999 coup d'etat that brought him to power, General
Pervez Musharraf telephoned General Anthony Zinni, Commander of the US
Central Command (CentCom).
Both Musharraf and Zinni have publicly confirmed their conversation. In
his book Battle Ready, written with Tom Clancy and published in 2004,
Zinni says that Musharraf told him "what had led to the coup and why he
and the other military leaders had had no choice other than the one
Zinni also mentions Musharraf's help, two months later, in arresting
some terrorists sought by the US, which led Zinni to tell Washington,
"Now do something for Musharraf."
In the aftermath of a military coup that entailed toppling an elected
government, Musharraf found it expedient, possibly necessary, to seek
the advice and support from the top American general dealing with the
Middle East and Central Asia.
Subsequently, too, Musharraf has been proud of his American
connections, citing on more than one occasion US support since 9/11 as
somehow conferring legitimacy on his military regime.
Now, however, when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice publicly
expressed support for "democratic, free and fair elections in Pakistan
in 2007", Musharraf's regime has taken a suddenly nationalistic stance.
A statement by the Pakistani Foreign Office rejected Rice's comments,
saying, "On the democratic processes in Pakistan, we do not require
advice from outside."
Pakistan's military leaders have followed a familiar pattern since the
country's first military coup in 1958.
They begin by trading on Pakistan's strategic location and securing US
support for military modernisation as well as an economic bonanza for
the country's elites.
During the honeymoon period with the United States, cooperation with
the US is cited as crucial for Pakistan's security and economic
Friendship with the US, political stability and economic development
are the mantras of Pakistan's military leaders during the first several
years of their otherwise unconstitutional regimes.
Then comes what an American friend recently described to me as a
"Kabuki situation", a reference to the Japanese popular drama involving
"highly stylised singing and dancing" and slow and cautious movements.
While consolidating their rule as US allies, Pakistani military rulers
do not completely conform to the US strategic vision and engage in
policies that are considered unsavoury by the Americans but in the
Pakistani state's interest by Pakistani officials.
For example, Field Marshal Ayub Khan's military regime (1958-69) joined
US-led anti-communist alliances and provided Americans with a secret
air base and listening posts.
In return, Pakistan received large amounts of aid and World Bank
financing that enabled Ayub Khan to claim that he presided over a
decade of development.
But Ayub Khan was unwilling to forgo a budding alliance with China and
Pakistan's adversarial relationship with India.
After the 1965 war, fought by Pakistan against US advice and in the
mistaken hope of invoking America's military alliance commitments
against India, relations between the US and Pakistan soured.
Ayub Khan summed up his resentment of later US policies towards his
regime in the tile of his autobiography Friends, Not Masters, arguing
that he wanted Washington as a friend but not as a master.
General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) followed Ayub Khan's pattern in
consolidating his regime with US assistance, this time by offering
Pakistan as the staging ground for the anti-Soviet jihad in
The irritant in the US-Pakistan relationship this time was Pakistan's
Looked the other way
The US looked the other way for as long as was necessary but after the
Geneva accords and the Soviet withdrawal in 1988, the interests of the
Pakistani regime and the United States diverged.
Zia-ul-Haq died in uniform and his military successors bitterly
criticised the US for "abandoning" Pakistan yet again.
Musharraf's military regime might now be gradually entering its own
"Friends, Not Masters" phase of relations with the United States.
Musharraf has delivered only partially on the promise of rooting out
Islamist terrorists from Pakistan, notwithstanding his government's
high profile support of the US effort against Al Qaida.
Allegations of Pakistan's covert support for the Taliban are casting a
shadow on Islamabad's ties with Washington.
Above all, the US is unwilling to see Pakistan as an equal of India
even though it is prepared to have balanced ties with both countries
and describes both as strategic partners.
Musharraf followed the script of Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq in
consolidating power with American backing and by buying off Pakistan's
elites with economic prosperity.
By reacting angrily to Rice's support for democratic processes in
Pakistan, Musharraf might inadvertently be copying his military
predecessors once again.
Of course, like Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq, the Musharraf paradigm is
also unlikely to ensure institutional governance in Pakistan or secure
long-term international partnerships.
Pakistan will attain independence, sustainable strength and real
development only when the Pakistani people, and not a vice-regal elite,
determines its fate.
Husain Haqqani serves as co-chair of Hudson's Islam and Democracy
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