Pakistan is always at odds with itself given the leaderships to which it has been, and still is, subjected. For geographical and strategic reasons, its relationship with the world has been fraught with instability –– mirroring the instability of its internal political, economic and social state, with all the pillars of state (as they are erroneously known in this case).
One most important relationship is, of course, with itself –– rent asunder by the various egos and haymakers in the many powerhouses. But it has never been able to live in isolation from the outside world. To keep itself afloat it has needed, from the outset, the support and assistance of what is now the sole superpower, the USA.
Way back in February 1948, founder and first governor-general Mohammad Ali Jinnah, when accepting the credentials of the first American envoy, remarked: “I am glad to learn that Your Excellency and the great country and people you represent will give your cooperation to us in order to advance our economic and cultural relations for the mutual benefit of both countries. I am hopeful that the good relationship and friendship already existing between the peoples of America and Pakistan will be further strengthened and the bonds of friendship between our two countries will be more firmly riveted.”
Prior to the ending of 1947, America had already received a plea from Jinnah for “cooperation” to advance Pakistan’s economy –– in other words, for hard cash. Just as it was in the beginning, so it was ever after. As for bonds of friendship, well they have been there and then they have not been there and when absent, Pakistan has ignored reality and given to moaning and groaning about being left high and dry. It has never been able to admit to being in a position to be happily estranged from its main benefactor, frequently caught in a quandary of basically its own making.
Enduring commitment is not part of the American make-up. They have attempted to learn from and absorb the words of their first president, statesman and general, George Washington, who in his farewell address to his nation in 1796 laid down its future policy:
“‘Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronising infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maximum no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But in my opinion, it is unnecessary, and would be unwise, to extend them.
“Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, in a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
“Harmony, and a liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying, by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be, from time to time, abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstance shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favours from another; that it must pay, with a portion of its independence, for whatever it may accept…”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2012.
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