Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The roller-coaster relation between Pakistan and US

The latest dip in Pak-US relations and the consequent suspension of $800 million US military aid to Pakistan is the seventh such instance during the last 56 years, meaning thereby that an impasse has greeted the roller-coaster relationship between the two countries after every eight years since 1955.

Practical cooperation between the Pakistan and US had commenced with the inking of the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) or the Baghdad Pact in February 1955.

Pakistan had basically signed the Baghdad Pact after the US had promised it ‘generous’ military and economic aid packages. The Baghdad Pact was aimed at containing the former USSR from developing a line of strong states along its south-western borders. This resulted in nearly $50 million in military grants, $19 million in defence support assistance and $ five million in cash or commercial purchases between 1955 and 1965 from US.

The first time when the US military aid to Pakistan was suspended, was during the 1965 Pak-India War. The second time it happened in 1971 when Pakistan and India were again at the battlefront. In 1972, after the then US President Nixon had visited China for the first time - a tour facilitated by Pakistan - Islamabad started receiving money again from Washington DC as probably 'service charges'.

In April 1979, the United States cut off its military assistance to Pakistan for the third time under the 1977 Symington Amendment to the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. This halt was triggered by the US concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear program.

In December 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US offered $400 million worth of military aid to Pakistan. The offer was turned down by the General Ziaul Haq’s, as he called it 'peanuts'.

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 development needs.

Accepting Pakistan’s assurances that it did not intend to make a nuclear bomb, the US Congress waived restrictions under the Symington Amendment on military assistance to Pakistan and in March 1986, the two countries agreed on a second multi-year (1988-93) $4 billion economic development and security assistance program.

The US aid had basically swelled from $60 million in economic and development assistance in 1979 to more than $600 million a year in the mid-1980s. The military aid was in addition to the $3.1 billion economic assistance for Islamabad.

But before the ink of
Geneva agreement for Soviet with drawl from Afghanistan dried in 1990, US military assistance was again suspended under the provisions of the Pressler Amendment. However, in 1995, the Brown Amendment authorized a one-time delivery of US military equipment worth $368 million to Pakistan.

The Pak-US relations again deteriorated after Pakistan conducted its May 28, 1998 nuclear tests. Sanctions resulted under the Glenn Amendment and curbs were imposed on the provision of credits, military sales, economic assistance and loans to Pakistan.

The dethroning of former two-time premier Nawaz Sharif by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999 gave the US government another ‘valid excuse’ to invoke new sanctions on Pakistan under the Foreign Appropriations Act. Only funds for the refugee and counter-narcotics assistance were given after Musharraf’s October 1999 adventure.

It is imperative to note that between 2002 and 2010, Pakistan has received approximately $18 billion in military and economic aid from the United States. In February 2010, the Obama administration had requested for an additional $3 billion in aid for Pakistan, taking the total US assistance figures to $20.7 billion.

However, the US has again suspended Pakistan aid mainly due to the exclusion of US trainers from Pakistan.

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