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The United States Alliance

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, it was natural for Pakistan to covet the wealth and surplus military equipment of the United States. United States-Pakistan relations were cordial, and throughout the late 1940s, Pakistan sought to nurture those close relations and gain access to United States military support; initially, these attempts were rebuffed.

As the new decade opened, however, a series of events put new hope into the possibility of United States-Pakistan cooperation. First was the reassessment of Pakistan's military position undertaken by Ayub Khan. The second event was the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-53), which drew United States attention toward Asia and marked the point of no return of the globalization of United States security policy. The third factor was the advent of the Eisenhower-Dulles team, which set to work building a ring of containment around the Sino-Soviet bloc. India, committed itself to nonalignment, had come into sharp disagreement with the United States in the United Nations when it refused to censure China as an aggressor in the Korean War and thus was viewed by the United States as a voice for communist appeasement. India's refusal to join the United States-sponsored 1951 Treaty of Peace with Japan--a pact among nations designed among other purposes to recruit Japan as an ally against communist inroads in Asia--further divided the two countries. India was not available as an ally; Pakistan was the inevitable alternative (see Foreign Policy , ch. 4).

Pakistan and the United States drew closer together, highlevel visits were exchanged, and the groundwork was laid for a security relationship that seemed to meet Pakistan's political needs and equipment deficit. At United States prompting, Pakistan and Turkey concluded a security treaty in 1954--the TurkoPakistan Pact--which immediately enabled United States military assistance to Pakistan under the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement signed the same year. Pakistan also became a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in 1954 and joined the Baghdad Pact, later renamed the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in 1959. Pakistan had little interest in SEATO and discerned no danger to its interests from China, joining mainly to oblige Washington. Even CENTO, which offered the advantage of a new approach to the Muslim world, was problematic because it drove a wedge between Pakistan and the Arab countries that remained outside it and was seen by Pakistanis as institutionally weak because the United States was never willing to become a full member. None of these arrangements addressed Pakistan's main concern, however--India.

At Pakistan's insistence, an additional agreement (the Agreement of Cooperation) on security was concluded with the United States in March 1959, by which the United States committed itself to the "preservation of the independence and integrity of Pakistan" and agreed to take "appropriate action, including the use of armed forces, as may be mutually agreed upon . . . in order to assist the Government of Pakistan at its request." The Agreement of Cooperation also said nothing about India and was cast in the context of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which dealt with communist threats to the Middle East. Pakistan saw the agreement as representing a high level of United States commitment, however, and some United States officials apparently encouraged an interpretation that saw more in the agreement than was actually there. There was considerable self-deception on both sides--Pakistan believed that it had secured an ally in its rivalry with India, and the United States focused on Pakistan as an adherent to the anticommunist cause.

Tangible gains to Pakistan from the relationship were substantial. Between 1954 and 1965, the United States provided Pakistan with US$630 million in direct-grant assistance and more than US$670 million in concessional sales and defense-support assistance. Pakistan received equipment for one additional armored division, four infantry divisions, and one armored brigade and received support elements for two corps. The Pakistan Air Force received six squadrons of modern jet aircraft. The Pakistan Navy received twelve ships. The ports of Karachi (in West Pakistan) and Chittagong (in East Pakistan) were modernized. The program did not, however, provide for the wholesale modernization of the military, much less its expansion. Forces in Kashmir and East Pakistan were excluded, and there was a continuing tug-of-war between the United States and Pakistan as Pakistan sought to extend the scope of the program and wring more benefits out of it.

The impact on the military of this new relationship was intense. Pakistanis embraced the latest concepts in military organization and thinking with enthusiasm and adopted United States training and operational doctrine. The army and the air force were transformed into fairly modern, well-equipped fighting forces. In the course of the rearmament program, the military was substantially reorganized along United States lines, and hundreds of Pakistani officers were trained by United States officers, either in Pakistan or in schools in the United States. Although many British traditions remained, much of the tone of the army, especially the officer corps, was Americanized.

Pakistan's hopes for an equitable settlement of its disputes with India, especially over Kashmir, were probably small in any event, but by bringing the United States directly into the South Asian security equation, rapprochement with India became virtually impossible. More important, India responded to Pakistan's new alignment by turning to the Soviet Union for military and political support--and the Soviet leader at the time, Nikita S. Khrushchev, was only too happy to oblige. As a result, Pakistan not only incurred Soviet hostility but also ultimately triggered a Soviet military supply program in India that more than offset the United States assistance to Pakistan. Soviet displeasure was further heightened by Pakistan's decision to grant facilities at Peshawar for the United States to conduct U-2 aerial reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union.

Data as of April 1994

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Pakistan Table of Contents