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Ayub Khan's Foreign Policy and the 1965 War with India

Ayub Khan articulated his foreign policy on several occasions, particularly in his autobiography, Friends not Masters. His objectives were the security and development of Pakistan and the preservation of its ideology as he saw it. Toward these ends, he sought to improve, or normalize, relations with Pakistan's immediate and looming neighbors--India, China, and the Soviet Union. While retaining and renewing the alliance with the United States, Ayub Khan emphasized his preference for friendship, not subordination, and bargained hard for higher returns to Pakistan.

Other than ideology and Kashmir, the main source of friction between Pakistan and India was the distribution of the waters of the Indus River system. As the upper riparian power, India controlled the headworks of the prepartition irrigation canals. After independence India had, in addition, constructed several multipurpose projects on the eastern tributaries of the Indus. Pakistan feared that India might repeat a 1948 incident that curtailed the water supply as a means of coercion. A compromise that appeared to meet the needs of both countries was reached during the 1950s; it was not until 1960 that a solution finally found favor with Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 was backed by the World Bank (see Glossary) and the United States. Broadly speaking, the agreement allocated use of the three western Indus rivers (the Indus itself and its tributaries, the Jhelum and the Chenab) to Pakistan, and the three eastern Indus tributaries (the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) to India. The basis of the plan was that irrigation canals in Pakistan that had been supplied by the eastern rivers would begin to draw water from the western Indus rivers through a system of barrages and link canals. The agreement also detailed transitional arrangements, new irrigation and hydroelectric power works, and the waterlogging and salinity problems in Pakistan's Punjab. The Indus Basin Development Fund was established and financed by the World Bank, the major contributors to the Aid-to-Pakistan Consortium, and India (see Foreign Aid , ch. 3).

Pakistan's tentative approaches to China intensified in 1959 when China's occupation of Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India ended five years of Chinese-Indian friendship. An entente between Pakistan and China evolved in inverse ratio to Sino-Indian hostility, which climaxed in a border war in 1962. This informal alliance became a keystone of Pakistan's foreign policy and grew to include a border agreement in March 1963, highway construction connecting the two countries at the Karakoram Pass, agreements on trade, and Chinese economic assistance and grants of military equipment, which was later thought to have included exchanges in nuclear technology. China's diplomatic support and transfer of military equipment was important to Pakistan during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War over Kashmir. China's new diplomatic influence in the UN was also exerted on Pakistan's behalf after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Ayub Khan's foreign minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, is often credited for this China policy, which gave Pakistan new flexibility in its international relationships. The entente deepened during the Zia regime (1977-88).

The Soviet Union strongly disapproved of Pakistan's alliance with the United States, but Moscow was interested in keeping doors open to both Pakistan and India. Ayub Khan was able to secure Soviet neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.

Ayub Khan was the architect of Pakistan's policy of close alignment with the United States, and his first major foreign policy act was to sign bilateral economic and military agreements with the United States in 1959 (see The United States Alliance , ch. 5). Nevertheless, Ayub Khan expected more from these agreements than the United States was willing to offer and thus remained critical of the role the United States played in South Asia. He was vehemently opposed to simultaneous United States support, direct or indirect, for India's military, especially when this assistance was augmented in the wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Ayub Khan maintained, as did many Pakistanis, that in return for the use of Pakistani military facilities, the United States owed Pakistan security allegiance in all cases, not merely in response to communist aggression. Especially troublesome to Pakistan was United States neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. The United States stance at this time was a contributing factor to Pakistan's closing of United States communications and intelligence facilities near Peshawar. Pakistan did not extend the ten-year agreement signed in 1959.

The 1965 war began as a series of border flare-ups along undemarcated territory at the Rann of Kutch in the southeast in April and soon after along the cease-fire line in Kashmir. The Rann of Kutch conflict was resolved by mutual consent and British sponsorship and arbitration, but the Kashmir conflict proved more dangerous and widespread. In the early spring of 1965, UN observers and India reported increased activity by infiltrators from Pakistan into Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan hoped to support an uprising by Kashmiris against India. No such uprising took place, and by August India had retaken Pakistani-held positions in the north while Pakistan attacked in the Chamb sector in southwestern Kashmir in September. Each country had limited objectives, and neither was economically capable of sustaining a long war because military supplies were cut to both countries by the United States and Britain.

On September 23, a cease-fire was arranged through the UN Security Council. In January 1966, Ayub Khan and India's prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, signed the Tashkent Declaration, which formally ended hostilities and called for a mutual withdrawal of forces. This objectively statesmanlike act elicited an adverse reaction in West Pakistan. Students as well as politicians demonstrated in urban areas, and many were arrested. The Tashkent Declaration was the turning point in the political fortunes of the Ayub Khan administration.

In February 1966, a national conference was held in Lahore, where all the opposition parties convened to discuss their differences and their common interests. The central issue discussed was the Tashkent Declaration, which most of the assembled politicians characterized as Ayub Khan's unnecessary capitulation to India. More significant, perhaps, was the noticeable underrepresentation of politicians from the East Wing. About 700 persons attended the conference, but only twenty-one were from the East Wing. They were led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (known as Mujib) of the Awami League, who presented his controversial six-point political and economic program for East Pakistani provincial autonomy. The six points consisted of the following demands that the government be federal and parliamentary in nature, its members elected by universal adult suffrage with legislative representation on the basis of distribution of population; that the federal government have principal responsibility for foreign affairs and defense only; that each wing have its own currency and separate fiscal accounts; that taxation occur at the provincial level, with a federal government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants; that each federal unit control its own earnings of foreign exchange; and that each unit raise its own militia or paramilitary forces.

Ayub Khan's also lost the services of Minister of Foreign Affairs Bhutto, who resigned became a vocal opposition leader, and founded the Pakistan People's Party (PPP--see Pakistan People's Party , ch. 4). By 1968 it was obvious that except for the military and the civil service, Ayub Khan had lost most of his support. Ayub Khan's illness in February 1968 and the alleged corruption of members of his family further weakened his position. In West Pakistan, Bhutto's PPP called for a "revolution"; in the east, the Awami League's six points became the rallying cry of the opposition.

In October 1968, the government sponsored a celebration called the Decade of Development. Instead of reminding people of the achievements of the Ayub Khan regime, the festivities highlighted the frustrations of the urban poor afflicted by inflation and the costs of the 1965 war. For the masses, Ayub Khan had become the symbol of inequality. Bhutto capitalized on this and challenged Ayub Khan at the ballot box. In East Pakistan, dissatisfaction with the system went deeper than opposition to Ayub Khan. In January 1969, several opposition parties formed the Democratic Action Committee with the declared aim of restoring democracy through a mass movement.

Ayub Khan reacted by alternating conciliation and repression. Disorder spread. The army moved into Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Dhaka, and Khulna to restore order. In rural areas of East Pakistan, a curfew was ineffective; local officials sensed government control ebbing and began retreating from the incipient peasant revolt. In February Ayub Khan released political prisoners, invited the Democratic Action Committee and others to meet him in Rawalpindi, promised a new constitution, and said he would not stand for reelection in 1970. Still in poor health and lacking the confidence of his generals, Ayub Khan sought a political settlement as violence continued.

On March 25, 1969, martial law was again proclaimed; General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, the army commander in chief, was designated chief martial law administrator (CMLA). The 1962 constitution was abrogated, Ayub Khan announced his resignation, and Yahya Khan assumed the presidency. Yahya Khan soon promised elections on the basis of adult franchise to the National Assembly, which would draw up a new constitution. He also entered into discussions with leaders of political parties.

Data as of April 1994

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