Academic journal article The Journal of Political Science

Pak-Us Hookup in Afghanistan: A Blame Game to End the Game?

Academic journal article The Journal of Political Science

Pak-Us Hookup in Afghanistan: A Blame Game to End the Game?

Article excerpt


Pakistan has experienced US policy towards her shifting from that of a most allied ally to that of utter negligence and even that of hostility. A diverse and variegated spectrum of ostensible explanations exists for inconsistence, confusion, reactive nature, and therefore, vacillation of US foreign Policy towards Pakistan; ranging from hackneyed clichés to unnerving conspiracy theories, each endowed with respective reasoning. One of these explanations considers Afghan conundrum a key factor in this vacillation. Afghanistan has almost always been crucial, to say the least, in shaping US foreign policy towards Pakistan, at least since 1979. The prevalent mist over Pak-US relations, resulted from the flagrant blame-game between the two states, has heralded yet another shift in cyclic dialecticism of their mutual relations. The paper identifies this blame game as a prelude to end game in Afghanistan, harbingering the end of yet another Pak-US alliance made in the wake of 9/11; and appraises the role of Afghan conundrum in shaping already complex Pak-US hookup in Afghanistan.

Keywords: US foreign policy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, end game, blame game, strategic depth, Taliban, War on Terror, 9/11


US foreign policy has profound implications - sometimes immediate and direct, sometimes indirect and underlying - for economy, security, freedom, and even everyday lives of people, not only of the US but that of the whole world, hence important to study and understand.1 Pakistan is certainly not immune to it; as the unremitting primacy attached to Washington, dovetailed with former's aid-oriented policy, has now virtually hitched Pakistan's security and economic development with US foreign policy towards her. In spite of shifts in global and regional scenarios, embalming of Pak-US ties has always remained a top priority in Pakistan's foreign policy calculus. Furthermore, the relevance and significance of US foreign policy for Pakistan is likely to continue, and possibly increase, in coming decades; hence important to study and understand.

While the prevalent mist over Pak-US relations, manifest in ongoing flagrant blame-game, can be attributed to startling ambivalence over aims and methodology of the War on Terror; it also heralds yet another tergiversation in cyclic dialecticism of their mutual relations. The thesis and antithesis of this cyclic dialecticism take forms of constructs like 'most-allied alley' and 'non-NATO ally' to 'double game' and 'trust deficit' - unfortunately never resulting in some sort of synthesis.

The much avowed 'trust-deficit,' which characterizes the prevalent terms between the two countries, sharply contrasts with pretentious knighthood of 'non-NATO ally' awarded to Pakistan not too long ago. Even this 'Peripeteia'2 has not occurred for the first time in the history of Pak-US relations. US foreign policy first veered towards Pakistan in 1953-54, making Pakistan most allied ally in South Asia; which followed by the first Peripeteia in 1962, making Pakistan insignificant in the wake of Sino-Indian border conflict. The second Peripeteia occurred in 1989, when the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan brought Pakistan down in US foreign policy calculus to the pre-1979 level. This paper is about the third Peripeteia - now in the making - and identifies Afghan conundrum as a stimulus to shift Pakistan up or down in US foreign policy calculus. In order to do that, a context of the Pak-US blame game is given in the following paragraphs.

Returning the Pound of Flesh

Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with the US or you are with the terrorists.

(President George W. Bush, September 20, 2001)

The stunning attacks of September 11, 2001, led the US launch a worldwide campaign against forces of international terrorism. Afghanistan was obvious point to start the ball rolling, as it was where the US negligence3 had created a greenhouse for terrorists from all around the world - and the US knew it well. …

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