Dear President Trump, your victory in the US elections shows that you can accomplish what is apparently impossible. During your campaign, you made a few references to Pakistan that were music to the ears of our enemies and made many of us uncomfortable.
Your conciliatory victory speech may have somewhat allayed the fears of optimists, but due to your election rhetoric, the majority of us are pessimistic about the new world order after January, 2017. While you will surely learn more about Pakistan and the complexities of South Asian affairs at the White House, I am putting before you a brief narration of the best and worst times in our relationship with your country.
Pakistan was a staunch US ally and a leading member of Cento and Seato from 1954-55 till 1973, which earned us the wrath of the Soviet Union – some of which is still lingering on. During the India-Pakistan War of 1965, your country preferred to remain neutral, against our expectations. But thereafter, instead of helping us address the root cause of that war – India’s illegal attempts to take over Kashmir, you abruptly cut off our military assistance.
During 1971, we were still your ‘ally’, but you ignored the Indian aggression in East Pakistan, and did nothing to deter its main supporter, the Soviet Union, from dismembering Pakistan. In 1974, while the US overlooked the Indian nuclear explosion at Pokharan, it imposed embargo and restrictions on us, to limit our defensive response to that threat. Then came the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during which, as partners from 1979-1989, we successfully undid that occupation.
Having used us for 10 years in Afghanistan, the US suddenly not only left the mess in that country for us to clear, it also suspended all military assistance and economic aid to Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment in 1990. Ironically, in the next eight years, the US allowed India to continue the development of its nuclear weapons programme. After the Indian nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistan was compelled to respond, for which you punished us again, through the Glenn Amendment, that restricted the provision of credits, military sales, economic assistance, and loans to Pakistan.
Finally, having supported you in every possible manner in Afghanistan for the last decade and a half and suffering personnel, material and economic losses, bigger than the losses of all our wars with India or the damage that Nato has suffered in Afghanistan, you have labelled us a ‘problem’. You have also expressed concerns about the safety of our nuclear weapons and indicated that you might ask India or your troops in Afghanistan, or both to resolve this ‘problem’. Now that seems to be a farfetched idea, in view of the fact that the US, with all its allies, including India, could not decisively defeat even a ragtag army of a few thousand Talibans in Afghanistan.
Sans the Indian dubious role and disinformation to pursue and promote their agenda against Pakistan, you could easily end the war in Afghanistan, with our support. I urge you to ask your aides about the plight of the millions of Afghan refugees that Pakistan is hosting, with its own meagre resources, for the last many decades – despite the fact that there is always a danger of terrorism, sabotage and subversion inside Pakistan by the governments of India and Afghanistan.
Please be informed that our country, including its nuclear weapons, is protected by our armed forces. So they are safe. What you need to worry about is the control of the Indian nuclear weapons, which are already in the ‘wrong hands’ of the RSS, whose philosophy is more dangerous than that of Isis. This calls for you to cancel the Indo-US nuclear deal and stop supporting India’s NSG membership bid.
As the CIA Fact Sheet on Pakistan rightly posits, Kashmir ‘remains the site of the world’s largest and most militarised territorial dispute’. Your ambassador to India will surely inform you about the recent Indian atrocities and human rights abuses to deny the Kashmiris their democratic and UN assured right of self-determination. As Kashmir is the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint in the world, please be warned that any future cataclysm, arising out of the dispute, shall not be limited to the Subcontinent. Hence, it was good to hear you promise, that you may be willing to address this issue, which is the real ‘problem’ in the Subcontinent.
We heard that you were voted to power by the ‘forgotten’ citizens, so when you travel to India please don’t ignore the 18 million ‘forgotten’ people of Indian-held Kashmir. Please know that Pakistan has survived many unjust sanctions in the past and its people have the will to endure hardships in the future, to protect the sovereignty and independence of their country.
Our constitution requires us to promote international peace and security, foster goodwill and friendly relations among all nations and encourage the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means. We shall, therefore, continue to work for that goal, with or without your assistance, so that peace and prosperity can return to this region. Despite occasional difficulties and random episodes of mistrust, pragmatism has shaped US-Pakistan relations for the last seven decades.
We hope that, unlike your predecessor, you will soon get an opportunity to visit Pakistan to get a better idea of the situation on the ground.
The writer is the former president of the NDU.