Life before Kerry-Lugar —Haider Nizamani
Courtesy: Daily Times, November 2, 2009
Popular sentiment has always been wary of American influence in Pakistan. Successive governments while framing their relations with the US have tried to placate public mood by invoking notions such as ‘augmenting national defence’ to accepting the ground realities of power politics.
Why are TV pundits and commentators in the print media so worked up about President Asif Zardari allegedly throwing the country in America’s lap? President Zardari stands accused in this media trial of selling out to the United States and compromising national security by accepting the $1.5 billion a year US aid package popularly known as the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Before judging President Zardari, let us look at the last sixty years and see if he is any different from earlier rulers of Pakistan.
Zardari and his team have much in common with their predecessors when it comes to leaning on American crutches instead of hanging on to the notion of national sovereignty. In fact, this behaviour dates all way the back to Liaquat Ali Khan, the country’s first prime minister.
Ayesha Jalal, in her meticulously researched book The State of Martial Rule, writes that Pakistan requested a $2 billion loan from the US in October 1947, and Pakistani officials “admitted that the new state’s internal political situation depended upon its ties with Britain and the US.” It was the Americans who turned down Pakistan’s request.
“If your country will guarantee our territorial integrity, I will not keep my army at all.” These are not words of Asif Zardari but of Liaquat Ali Khan, speaking in response to an American journalist’s question in Washington DC in 1950. Pakistan was so far down on the priority list of the Americans that they didn’t seriously entertain our first prime minister’s offer to disband the military.