Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

Pak US Relations: Allies under Compulsion?

Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

Pak US Relations: Allies under Compulsion?

Article excerpt

September 11, 2001 (now referred to as 9/11) added new aspects to international system having a bearing on Interstate Relations. This incident had direct effect on the US global security policy in the days to come. Osama bin Laden and his organization Al-Qaeda were directly blamed by the United States for the 9/11 attacks. The President of the United States termed these attacks as an act of war and pledged that the organization and its leaders responsible for these attacks would be taken to task for attacking the USA. Meanwhile Islamabad started sensing the crises because of its geographical proximity with Afghanistan and being the supporter of the Taliban, Pakistan felt compelled to make tough decisions in the new security situation.

This study is an analytical overview of Pakistan US relations. It focuses on the post 9/11 relations strongly based in the history of their bilateral relations, with some changes brought by 9/11. The study breaks these relations in the pre and post 9/11 eras. It brings out the compulsions on both sides to remain allies despite many divergences in interests and objectives.

Pak-US Relations before 9/11

In South Asia despite the ever emerging global concept of comprehensive security, interstate conflicts and the traditional concerns of military security still remain an important phenomenon. The unsettled issue of Kashmir and other disputes between Pakistan and India remain a major threat of conventional or non-conventional conflict between the two (Moni, 2012). Therefore the relationship with the United States remains the determining factor for Pakistan in its power equation with India.

Both Pakistan and the US had to depend on each other for their own strategic, political and security reasons. Since Pakistan's independence India due to its military and economic dominance was the main security concern for Pakistan. To balance those threats Pakistan was compelled to search for foreign defense cooperation (Sattar, 2007: 40). The United States was the only potential source of military and economic assistance for Pakistan (Sattar, 2007). Pakistan's security policy has always been India centric and the convergence of security interests between Pakistan and USA was natural as India was a close strategic ally of the former USSR during the cold war. United States had begun to recognize the value of Pakistan's geographical location as early as 1949, when the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) said that Pakistan is useful for military or non-military operations against the Soviet Union and is a base for strategic US forces for the defense of oil rich Middle Eastern region (Arif, 1984:70-78).

Pak-US security relations revolve around three important aspects i.e. Political, economic and military relations. However, for Pakistan all these aspects are underwritten by the Indian threat perception (Saleem, 14, july.2011). Babani Sen Gupta writes in his book that along with the threat perceptions from India, the geo-strategic environment has also caused a serious security problems for Pakistan, since it is situated in the region described as the fulcrum of Asia (Gupta, 1970: 178-240). That is why Pakistan while devising its security policy always has to consider the posture of the super power i.e. the USA towards this region. Moreover Pakistan always needed and was supported economically and militarily by the United States which helped Pakistan in maintaining its defensive posture vis-à-vis India. On the other hand the US needed Pakistan as part of its security arrangement against the spread of communism during the cold war. Though United States has always been a stronger and bigger power in this equation of security relations between Pakistan and the US but still there existed some level of co-dependency between the two states. The US and Pakistan remained engaged with each other through various security alliances since 1950's for the purpose of enhancing their respective national security. …

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