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November 26, 2020

Book review: ‘Pak-US Relations: Past, Present and Future’

Islamabad

 
November 26, 2020

Islamabad : The book on ‘Pak-US Relation: Past, Present and Future’ by Aman Ullah Khan, former adviser to US Embassy in Pakistan, enhance more interest after reading his first book entitled ‘Tightrope Walk.’

In both the books he very successfully maintained an objective, impartial, honest and skillful balance between his patriotism as Pakistani national and his professional loyalty and duty as adviser to the American ambassadors in Pakistan and that also continuously for three decades.

Certainly, it was not an easy task because of the complexity of the issues involved and intricacies of Pak-US ties which experienced numerous ups and downs as he himself very rightly termed it as a ‘mystery of the US frequent U-terns to the Pakistan’s chagrin at the most inappropriate times.’ It could have been beyond the patience of a lesser mettle person the pains he felt but never shown any sign of intolerance or unpleasantness on his face when American policy-makers let Pakistan down many times especially in critical situations. At the same time he was very successful in tolerating but politely highlighting the tragedy to his surprise that Pakistani ruling elites were always ready to oblige every US administration for all their policies and military aggression but it was beyond his limits of tolerance when military regime in Pakistan itself took a U-turn especially after 9/11 and facilitated US aggression in Afghanistan for which Pakistan is still paying heavy price.

The book is a narration as well as critical analysis of his first-hand information, participant observations and experiences of dealing with Pak-US relations highlighting the intricacies in the process of decision-making in Pakistan with respect to some selected but major issues including Kashmir dispute, Afghanistan crisis, Pak-India tensions, Pakistan’s nuclear programme and domestic politics with an objective to measure the American influence on Pakistan’s military establishments and civil administrations and expose the character of the faces behind the scenes.

Mr. Khan begins by disclosing the personal tragedy he faced as a seven-year old Kashmiri boy when his mother and number of his close relatives were brutally butchered by Hindu mobs in Jammu and Kashmir during migration at the time of partition of the Subcontinent into Pakistan and India.

The book provides a blunt, straightforward, frank and interesting narrative clean from entangling the reader into complex theoretical framework, though it cannot be termed as research work as no evidence/citation has been provided to support the observation as well as argumentation but his life-long personal engagement in the process of diplomatic negotiation and close association with American ambassadors in Pakistan, his objective and honest understanding and observations make it more authentic.

The writer has narrated the conduct of some of the American ambassadors which are not only interesting by at time revealing too. Similarly, he is critical of successive governments in Pakistan conceding much than gains rather most of the time acting contrary to the national interests. But at the same time some of his arguments that Kashmir dispute could have been resolved bilaterally but was kept dormant “whenever certain elements feel the need for it” may seem oversimplified. But I also believe that Nehru’s cunningness worked in separating Kashmir from Indus waters dispute as a pre-condition in accepting World Bank’s mediation otherwise water and Kashmir are intertwined in nature. Chennab Formula has its roots in the signing of IWT but General Ayub Khan cold not sell this idea in Pakistan owing to risk of his popularity. Nevertheless, his proposal that Pakistan would have been better without adopting the nuclear path is a simple and reductionist approach without realising Pakistan’s perception of existential threat from India, though he has full right to hold such view.

Dr. Muhammad Nasrullah Mirza

Former HoD Defence and Strategic Studies

Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.

Email: [email protected]