Pakistan and America's Relations during the 50s

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60th Death Anniversary

Did Liaquat have an American tilt?

By Dr. Tauqir Alam.

The 60th death anniversary of a man was observed on October 16 this year who was the architect of Pak – US relations and who is blamed to this day for landing the new sate of Pakistan in the American camp in the second half of the twentieth century. This great man’s murder may be called as the first politically motivated assassination after the creation of Pakistan on October 16, 1951.

Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan (1896-1951), the first prime minister of Pakistan (in office: August 1947 – Oct. 1951) took the reign of power at a time when Pakistan was in infancy. The most punching problems the new state had to face were a non-existent economic base and country’s vulnerability to a contemporary but sworn enemy in the east. The 1948 war in Kashmir with India had brought to light the fact that if immediate measures were not taken to build a viable economic and defence infrastructure, the country would soon vanish from the map of the world.

These two inherent weaknesses had already compelled the Quaid-e-Azam to look towards economically prosperous nations who could help Pakistan steering out of this critical situation. Nawabzada Liaquat knew this reality since the day one and was as much desperate and restless as the Quaid was. For both the key men of their time the United States had attained the status of a superpower after the victory of allied forces in the World War II, which the Soviet Union was striving to catch up with.

The United States figured out as the most likely state for them, which could fulfill the defence and economic needs of Pakistan to such an extent that it could withstand different sort of pressures and that the presumed military and economic aid would also likely to push Pakistan on track to development and sustainability. Pakistan saw the fulfillment of this desire of its founder to some extent when Nawabzada Liaquat, in September 1948, following untimely demise of Quaid, shouldered the responsibility of piloting the ship of the state. Liaquat followed the thinking paradigm of Quaid thus giving full weight to establishing close ties with the United States.

These were different times, however. Pakistan had no pleaders and no antagonists in the United States. Incidentally, it was also that crucial period when the Middle East and South Asia were taken as the regions of prime responsibility for Great Britain by the US policy makers. Unfortunately, Pakistan then a state that was absolutely unknown in the US academic and policy-making circles and its strategic importance was overshadowed by the historical and mighty name of India.

The 20th Century leadership that made Pakistan was mostly educated in the West. Most of the leaders of the Pakistan movement who played later any potential role in the country’s politics after its creation like Quaid-e-Azam, Liaquat Ali Khan, Malik Feroz Khan Noon, I. I. Chundrigar, and the top military leadership of that time, were all educated in the United Kingdom or any other European country. The Russian atrocities on the Muslims of Central Asia during the Communization process from 1917-1925 were in not so distant area of their memories. This leadership had viewed Russians with acute antagonism and suspicion because of this reason. Hence, when the time came for this leadership to choose a potential ally for the prosperity and security of the country, it naturally turned to the United States.

Position was that in the first decade of Pakistan’s creation that it was not the need of United States but the latter was need of the former. And incidentally, the question before Pakistani leadership was that how Pakistan could incline United States towards the fulfillment of its defence and economic needs? Interesting is to note that from Quaid-e-Azam to Liaquat Ali Khan down to General Ziaul Haq including Z. A. Bhutto, all the leaders had made their best to convince the US...
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