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LAHORE: Having dished out another $1.6 billion in military and economic aid for Pakistan recently, the United States has now indebted Pakistan, its key ally in War on Terror, to nearly $70 billion during the last 66 years, research and calculations conducted by “The News International” reveal.
The most recent $1.6 billion assistance, which has now flown in finally, was actually held back by Washington when relationship between the two countries had turned sour due to the US air strikes against Pakistani soldiers and the May 2, 2011 Abbottabad raid that had killed Osama bin Laden.
A peek through the American Overseas Loans and Grants: Obligations and Loan Authorisations (aka the Greenbook), a Congressional Research Service document titled “Direct Overt US Aid Appropriations and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan,” a database compiled in this context by the Washington-based Centre for Global Development and a report published by an esteemed British newspaper “The Guardian” show that having established relations with Pakistan exactly 66 years ago on October 20, 1947, the United States had provided nearly $67 billion to Pakistan between 1948 and 2011.
The American Overseas Loans and Grants: Obligations and Loan Authorization estimates take into account the data on Coalition Support Fund (CSF) spending to the military assistance category. While CSF is not technically foreign assistance, it has constituted the bulk of military assistance to Pakistan during the post-9/11 period.
Between 2002 and 2010, Pakistan had received approximately $18 billion in military and economic aid from the United States, including $11.5 billion as military assistance.A Congressional compilation of US aid to Pakistan has stated that till 2010, Islamabad had received $6 billion in civilian aid after the September 11 terrorist attack in New York.
According to the February 23, 2010 edition of “The Times of India,” the total US aid to Pakistan had stood at more
than $20.7 billion between September 2001 and February 2010.
The United States has traditionally been seen as a lender of the last resort by nearly all Pakistani rulers after the death of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in September 1948, hence gifting the world super power a golden opportunity to achieve its regional and strategic goals against pea-nuts only.
A study of Sartaj Aziz’s book “Between Dreams and Realities: Some Milestones in Pakistan’s History,” the January 17, 1972 edition of the prestigious Time magazine, papers from the US National Security Archive, the BBC News edition of September 14, 2009, the documents of the Council on Foreign Relations, Feroz Hassan Khan’s books “The Route to Nuclear Ambition” and “Eating grass?: the making of the Pakistani bomb,” writer Hamid Hussain’s article “Tale of a love affair that never was: United States-Pakistan Defence Relations” appearing in the Defence Journal of Pakistan, the Los Angeles Times edition of May 7, 2011, the May 4, 1950 edition of the “Chicago Daily Tribune” and the Indian channel Zee News report of April 08, 2011 etc reveal that since 1950, numerous Pakistani rulers have paid visits to the United States to seek civilian and military aid.
These rulers include the likes of Liaquat Ali Khan, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Sikander Mirza, Yahya Khan, Zuklfikar Ali Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari.
The references cited above shed a flood of light on the fact that a number of important developments have taken place during the love and hate relationship between Pakistan and the United States.
flights to gain intelligence on Soviet Union’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. Surprisingly, in 1959, US had denied the request of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he had tried to visit the facility on Pakistani soil.
In 1960, the then Pakistani President Ayub Khan had allowed the United States to fly a spy mission to Soviet Union. In spite of knowing about the aftermath of the mission, Ayub Khan was fully aware of the operation.
In 1961, Ayub Khan had paid a state visit to the United States, accompanied by his daughter Begum Nasim Akhtar Aurangzeb, and in 1962, he had gifted a brown horse named “Sardar” to the visiting American First Lady, Jackie Kennedy (wife of President John F. Kennedy).
In 1965, Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam had set up the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology with American help. This project was designed by leading American architect Edward Durrell Stone.
The reactor was designed by an American nuclear engineer Peter Karter and the American Machine and Foundry had supplied the reactor.
In 1971, Pakistan helped the United States to make preparations for the President Richard Nixon for his historical visit to the People’s Republic of China.
Towards the end of 1971 Pak-India War that led to disintegration of the country, the US had deployed its Navy Task Force in the Indian Ocean, when it became apparent that Pakistan was losing the battle. This was a show of force and the then US President Richard Nixon had even gone to the extent of dubbing India a “Soviet stooge.”
In 1974, after India had tested its nukes, Bhutto had unsuccessfully urged US to impose economic sanctions on India. Pakistan’s request in this context was turned down by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It was in 1974 that the US had imposed an embargo on Pakistan to limit its nuclear programme.
During the 1976 US Presidential election, Jimmy Carter was elected as the American head of state and in his inaugural speech he had announced the determination to seek the ban of nuclear weapons. Bhutto responded aggressively to Carter’s statement.
Although Carter had placed an embargo on Pakistan, Bhutto had still succeeded in carrying out the nuclear programme. This was done in spite of the fact that Bhutto was threatened of dire consequences by Henry Kissinger.
Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and executed in April 1979 during General Zia’s regime. It was also in April 1979 that the US suspended its economic assistance to Pakistan under the Foreign Assistance Act, announcing it was concerned about Pakistan’s atomic bomb project.
In 1979, a group of Pakistani students had set ablaze the American embassy in Islamabad, killing two Americans in retaliation to the November 20 to December 4, 1979 terrorist attack and takeover of the Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca by local insurgents. Those who attacked the US Embassy were of the view that the US had hatched the conspiracy to attack the holiest Muslim city.
The December 24, 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet troops and the consequent backing of Islamic groups by the Americans with Pakistan’s active support to defeat Moscow, is perhaps the most eventful day of Pakistan’s history, the ill-effects of which are being borne by the country’s inhabitants till date.
Lots of US aid flew into Pakistan after 1979 and so did millions of Afghan refugees. Militancy and religious extremism since then, continues to haunt and hound Pakistan till date. In 1981, Pakistan and the United States had agreed on a $3.2 billion military and economic assistance programme aimed at helping Pakistan deal with the ensuing security threats.
But it was during the 1980s that Pakistan had agreed to pay for purchase of 28 F-16 fighter jets from the United States, but the Congress sitting in Washington DC froze the deal, citing objections to Pakistan’s nuclear plans.
President Jimmy Carter had offered Pakistan $325 million in aid over three years, but General Zia rejected this small offer.
During Ronald Reagan’s regime, aid to the Afghan resistance and to Pakistan had increased to $1 billion.
After Zia’s death, the United States took a tough stand on Pakistan’s nuclear development, passing the Senator Pressler-proposed Amendment, while significantly improving its ties with India.
The Senator Brown Amendment then gave Pakistan a one-time waiver from the Pressler Amendment, which had earlier barred economic and military aid for Islamabad for violating US nuclear nonproliferation laws. This allowed the US to release arms worth $368 million to Pakistan that had been blocked earlier.
Overall, both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif had enjoyed bitter relationship with their American counterparts during their first stints in power.
And we all have fresh memories of the Pak-US ties during General Musharraf’s reign, the aftermath of 9/11 and Pakistan’s role in the war on Terror.
In 2003, the US had officially written off $1 billion Pakistani debt as a “reward” for Pakistan joining the War on Terror.
In October 2009, the US Congress had approved $7.5 billion of non-military aid to Pakistan over the next five years via the Kerry-Lugar Bill and in February 2010, US President Barack Obama had sought to increase funds to Pakistan to “promote economic and political stability in strategically important regions where the United States has special security interests”.
Obama had also sought $3.1 billion aid for Pakistan (for 2010) to defeat al-Qaeda.
A peek into the history of the ‘roller coaster’ diplomatic ties between the two countries also reveals that these two key allies in War against Terror have seldom been on the same page since they had ‘befriended’ each other on October 20, 1947, resulting in suspension of Washington DC’s aid for Islamabad some half a dozen times.
In October 1999, the American aid to Pakistan was cut off (for the sixth time since the signing of the 1954 defence pact) when the then Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf had staged a bloodless coup, ousting the then Premier Nawaz Sharif. The US government promptly invoked fresh sanctions under Section 508 of the Foreign Appropriations Act, which included restrictions on foreign military financing and economic assistance.
The assistance was thus restricted to refugee and counter-narcotics assistance only. Aid to Pakistan had dropped dramatically from 1991 to 2000 to a dismal $429 million in economic funding and $5.2 million in military assistance.
Earlier, in 1998, after the then Premier Nawaz Sharif had opted to test the country’s nukes, a Presidential visit scheduled for the first quarter of 1998 was postponed and, under the Glenn Amendment, US sanctions again restricted the provision of credits, military sales and economic assistance to Pakistan.
When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1990, US military aid to Pakistan was again suspended under the Larry Pressler Amendment. However, in 1995, the Brown Amendment had authorised the delivery of military equipment worth $368 million.
In December 1979, the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the United States gave $2.19 billion in military assistance to Pakistan between 1980 and 1990 as ‘reward’ for blocking and resisting the raging Soviets. This military aid was in addition to $3.1 billion economic assistance.
Looking back we note that in April 1979, the US had severed its military ties with Pakistan due to Washington’s concerns about Islamabad’s nuclear programme and construction of a uranium enrichment facility, though food assistance under the Symington Amendment had remained unaffected.
During the 1971 Pakistan-India war, the US again suspended its military aid to Pakistan, but resumed limited financial aid in 1972, after Islamabad had facilitated President Nixon’s tour to China the same year.
The first time the US had suspended its military aid to Pakistan was during the 1965 Pak-India war. Ten years down the lane, in 1975, the US arms sales to Pakistan resumed and Islamabad received $50 million in military grants, $19 million in defence support assistance and $5 million in cash or commercial purchases.