The US Factor in Pakistan-Iran Relations: New Dimensions

By Ahmad, Manzoor; Ali, Tahir et al. | Journal of Political Studies, Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

The US Factor in Pakistan-Iran Relations: New Dimensions


Ahmad, Manzoor, Ali, Tahir, Shah, Zahir, Journal of Political Studies


Introduction

Flexible approach helps better to define foreign policy objectives in understanding inter-state relations. If foreign policy is defined as the actions/reactions of sovereign states to change conditions of the external environment, it will result in another kind of scholarship which emphasized on the ideas of the decision makers in foreign policy decision making process. The desired change by the decision makers may be in the policy, behavior, or action/reaction of a state. (Holsti, 1983). In this scenario, the change of leadership plays a vital role in shaping the foreign policy of a state. In this paper the change of leadership is addressed in the light of the leader's attitude towards different regional and international problems. (Breuning, 2007). The troubled triangular relationship which formed among United States, Pakistan and Iran after 9/11,2001 brought disastrous implications for both Pakistan and Iran due to the hegemonic strategic foreign policy objectives of the United States. Changing demands of United States national interests after 9/11 in response to regional or international challenges arises mainly due to terrorism questioned the adequacy of idealism in explaining Pakistan-Iran relations.

There is a general perception that United States has extremely influenced Pakistan foreign policy after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, 2001 and has served as an instrument of US strategic goals in the region against the Taliban government in Afghanistan. No doubt Pakistan has played a great job as a front line ally of United States in the global war on terror (GWT) but at the same time it has also weakened Pakistan's relations with its neighbors specially Iran. (Kumar, 2008).The ratio of US influence was extremely high during Musharraf presidency and continued with the same pace till the initial period of President Zardari which lasted from 2008-2013. Although United States has not been satisfied with Pakistan's role in this respect but the other side of the paradox also says that Pakistan had also been fed up with United States continued demand of "do more" in the so-called war on terror since 9/11 which resulted not more than lack of trust between them. (Hunter, 2010). This complex and uncertain strategic environment among the US, Pakistan and Iran continued also with the change of governments which lastly culminated in US-Pakistan weak and worst relations due to the subsequent events which paved the way for smooth and cordial relations between Pakistan and Iran.

Iran occupies a significant place in the foreign policy of Pakistan with its early independence. Iran was the first ever country which admitted the separate recognition of Pakistan as an independent sovereign state. The strategic support of Iran in the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 is of immense importance which secured Pakistan's freedom against her rival, India. (Zeb, 2003). Islam is the main binding force which has tied them both closely. Although the Shia-Sunni balance in Pakistan has a great value in determining Iran's relations with Pakistan which were later became a serious problem in 1990s when the Shia community was harshly targeted by the Sunni militants in Pakistan.

US-Iran has a short history of good and reputable relations in the prerevolution era. They had experienced hostile and bitter relations throughout history which composed of three decades. After 9/11, their relations had been come to the normal state but unfortunately for a very short time when President Bush placed Iran in the "axis of evil" list. After that the animosity between the two has been increased due to which their relations have come to the lowest ebb. (Kumar, 2008) However when President Obama took the charge of his office in 2009, some improvements have been occurred by involving the international community to peacefully solve the nuclear issue with Iran which United States regarded as the main source of trouble. However in a complex and uncertain environment what impelled United States to continue its pressure on both Pakistan and Iran in pursuit of its most strategic objectives? …

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