Pakistan: Friend of Our Enemies

A newspaperman who has had wide experience both at home and abroad. WARREN UNNA is Asian correspondent for Ihe Washington POST. His annual visits to the continent of Asia and his intimate knowledge of Pakistani affairs have prompted him to describe the dilemma in which the United States now finds itself in giving military aid to a country which is flirting with our enemy Red China.


PAKISTAN today is questioning the value of its military alliance with the United States, and the United States, in turn, is beginning to wonder if it really ever has had a military alliance with Pakistan.

In the words of its Foreign Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan is doing nothing more than reappraising its own interests, which include the “normalization of its relations” with Communist China. The Administration in Washington prefers the word “flirtation.” And since the United States for some time now has been providing Pakistan with more than a half billion dollars in aid a year — $50 to $60 million of this in the form of military aid specifically aimed at the containment of Communism — this “flirtation” has not been found to be amusing.

Whether it be “normalization” or “flirtation,” both Pakistan and the United States seem to agree on the cause: Pakistan fears and detests India and now reaches out for China on the theory that “My enemy’s enemy is my friend,”

In the past year, Pakistan has taken these steps:

1.Invited Chinese Premier Chou En-lai and Foreign Minister Chen Yi for a week-long, “friendly” state visit in February, 1964. The announcement impelled our State Department to declare: “We consider it unfortunate that the leaders of the Chinese regime should be accorded an opportunity to pay a ‘friendly visit’ to Pakistan, a country allied with us against Communist aggressive aims.”

2. Concluded a border agreement with China establishing a demarcation line on the two hundred miles or so of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir which touch China. Kashmir, according to Pakistani doctrine, must someday be allowed to determine its own status. In the meantime, Pakistan has found it best to predetermine Kashmir’s shape.

3. Concluded a trade agreement with China which will mean the barter of Pakistan’s chief foreign-exchange cash crop, cotton, for whatever Chinese products Pakistan might find useful. China’s ability to export useful products has seemed so dubious to its historical and nearest trading partner, Japan, that even Japan has not seen fit to take the trade possibilities very seriously.

4. Concluded a civil-aeronautics agreement with China for the exchange of commercial-airline flights between Dacca, in East Pakistan, and Canton and Shanghai. The United States, aware that this will provide China with its only non-Communist air outlet aside from relatively backwater Rangoon, has termed the agreement “an unfortunate breach of Free World solidarity.” Pakistan’s original excuse for the agreement was that it needed Chinese refueling stops on Pakistan International Airlines’ proposed new route to Tokyo. But now Japan has refused to grant landing rights to Pakistan. India, furthermore, has threatened to block any overflights of its territory which either Pakistan or China might want to make on the Dacca-Canton route.

5. Concluded a cultural-exchange agreement with China and lobbied for its admission to the United Nations, both actions at a time when China has openly split with its Communist colleagues in the Kremlin for advocating peaceful coexistence and endorsing such East-West agreements as the test-ban treaty.

Pakistani officials also have publicly implied, although without documentation, that in the event of an attack from India, China would come to Pakistan’s defense as a military ally.

In August Pakistan suddenly decided to raise the status of its diplomatic representative in Communist Cuba from minister to ambassador. The United States, the day before, had announced it was holding up a $4.3 million loan to build a new Dacca airstrip which was to facilitate the China flights. Washington considered the Cuban representative action as intrinsically meaningless, since Pakistan does not possess even a diplomatic building in Havana. But some United States officials thought that, in effect, Pakistan was deliberately trying to frustrate Washington’s attempts to isolate the Communist regime of Fidel Castro.

Pakistani officials make no apology for these actions. Instead they take issue with the United States for joining Britain in furnishing arms and training to India for defense against China. Pakistan contends that China was provoked by India into its attack across the Himalayas in December, 1962.

TO UNDERSTAND Pakistan it is necessary to go back to the days when the Indian subcontinent was part of the British Empire and the British, in a lastditch attempt to hold on, resorted to their old policy of divide and rule. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, was Britain’s creature. During World War II American soldiers stationed in India saw Jinnah exhorting his fellow Muslims into separatism from the Hindus as he stood under a hot Delhi sun, dressed in Western clothes, wearing a monocle, and assisted by an interpreter.

When the British finally decided to leave they discovered they had created a Frankenstein monster: Muslim separatism was too deeply rooted to be ignored. The subcontinent then was partitioned into two independent countries, India and Pakistan, and Pakistan was impossibly split geographically. East Pakistan, on one side of India, had all the natural resources. West Pakistan, on India’s other flank a thousand miles away, was the economic and political center.

In addition to the fantastic fratricide created by Muslims and Hindus as they fled to the new political boundaries, there was the mutual quest for Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim state with a Hindu maharaja, which lies between West Pakistan and India proper. Pakistan moved its troops in first. But India then seized Kashmir’s heartland, the fertile Vale, and refused to get out.

Ever since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in the late forties, Pakistan’s strongest foreign policy has been a negative one: fear of India, revenge on India, and “regain” of Kashmir. Although Pakistan now has only 100 million people as compared with India’s nearly 400 million, Pakistan never has faced up to the fact that it is, both in people and territory, a much smaller state. But where a small country such as the Netherlands has been able to maintain big-power equality through its wits and commerce, Pakistan has depended for its equality with India on military might — provided by the United States. The United States has lavished economic aid on both countries, but until the 1962 invasion of India by China only Pakistan had received military aid.

The origin is interesting. At the beginning of the Eisenhower Administration the late Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was working on ways to contain the Soviet Union through its southern perimeter. Military aid to Pakistan was considered. But while it was months away from any decision in Washington, planted stories in the governmentcontrolled Pakistan press started announcing it. In addition, the Pakistanis, aware that a multinational pact like NATO would make any shipment of arms to them far more palatable to the United States Congress, told Washington that the Turks were anxious to get into an alliance and told the Turks that the United States was anxious to get them in. The Baghdad Pact, now called the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), followed.

Once the United States military commitment was made and Dulles started solidifying his plans for Soviet containment, the United States had a rude awakening. Pakistan said it was delighted with the new military assistance for its defense arrangements against India.

But what about Soviet containment? asked Washington. Pakistan replied that it had the manpower to arrange that too, if it received additional United States arms and money.

Pakistan’s second military arrangement with the United States, and one in which the United States is a formal member, is the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). The one time SEATO tried to emerge from its status as a paper organization was in 1961, when an appeal went out for token forces to buttress the United States troops sent to Thailand as a precaution against a runaway Laos. Pakistan, as well as SEATO’s other Asian member, the Philippines, refused to oblige. Pakistan, which had been sounded out beforehand, now claims that it never had been formally requested.

President Mohammed Ayub Khan, in an interview in his Rawalpindi office in the spring of 1962, made it plain that the United States could amuse itself with these military pacts if it wanted to, so long as Pakistan continued to get direct military assistance. Ayub’s secretary-general at the Ministry of External Affairs, S. K. Dehlavi, went a bit further. In an interview in March, 1962, Dehlavi declared flatly: “Our relations with China would be excellent if we weren’t a member of these pacts.” Dehlavi may have been mindful that Pakistan’s relations with its Muslim brethren in the Arab states might also be better without the pacts. CENTO, with its Middle East base, is particularly galling to the Arab states.

When Ayub promulgated a new constitution in the spring of 1962 he was faced with some far more outspoken political opposition at home. He then tried to placate his critics by showing more independence of his American benefactor and more interest in Communist China, which, through its invasion of India, then became “my enemy’s enemy.” But reports from Pakistan indicate that Ayub’s political opponents now are criticizing the government for allowing China to toy with Pakistan and for antagonizing Pakistan’s main source of bread and butter, the United States.

IN WASHINGTON there have been two reactions to Pakistan’s China policy. The White House and the State Department have been outraged. The invitation for a state visit extended to Red China, the signing of a civil-aviation agreement with China, and the raising of the question of Cuban representation were considered as incredible behavior from a military ally. But the Pentagon, and such powerful Pentagon supporters in the Congress as Senators Stuart Symington of Missouri, Richard B. Russell of Georgia, and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, has taken the position that an ally is an ally and you do not question it.

The Pentagon values its installation near Peshawar, which permits the tracking of Soviet missile shots. And it must be admitted that Pakistan did not flinch when the U-2 was discovered in 1960 with Peshawar as its takeoff base and Russia threatened terrible retaliation. Symington represents a school of thinking which argues that if increased aid to India, particularly the introduction of military aid, annoys a good ally like Pakistan, then the United States’s priority interest lies, as always, with its military ally.

Furthermore, it is hard for the legislators to forget Ayub’s soldierly blunt speech before a joint session of Congress in July, 1961, when he told them that, like foreign aid or not, “you had better not get tired at this point. ... If there is real trouble, there is no other country in Asia where you will be able to even put your foot in. The only people who will stand by you are the people of Pakistan.”

Ayub, an unapologizing paternalistic dictator who sports a clipped mustache, a swagger stick, and a no-nonsense British accent acquired during his studies at the Royal British Military Academy at Sandhurst, has a personality which appeals to Westerners. Ayub and Pakistan were particularly appealing to the Eisenhower Administration. But Pakistan suspected, and probably rightly, that it would be harder to please the late President Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy, even as a senator, had been a strong advocate of India’s needs. And Pakistan, as has been said, considers support for India incompatible with support for itself. The swearing-in of President Johnson, on the other hand, brought renewed hopes to Ayub and his government. It was Mr. Johnson who made an international hero out of Bashir, the camel driver whom he befriended during his visit to Pakistan in early 1961. And it was Mr. Johnson who was so disturbed by the antiAmerican sentiment in the Pakistan press that he saw to it that Ayub was invited to Washington for a state visit in July, 1961.

But the appeal for more United States support which Ayub made to Mr. Johnson while he was in Pakistan gained a silent response. And when Ayub’s subsequent visit to Washington ended, he had nothing in his hand. This caused deeper disillusionment on his return to Rawalpindi.

Today Ayub’s government is bluntly telling the United States and Britain that they must show their appreciation for Pakistan by abandoning their new military-aid program to India. At a press conference at the Pakistan embassy in Washington in October, Foreign Minister Bhutto declared that United States and British military aid to India was nonsense: India needed no protection against any renewed invasion from China, and any arms it received would only be turned against Pakistan.

“India, at the appropriate time, will negotiate a settlement with China on her border dispute,” Bhutto declared. “India has no intention whatsoever of allowing another conflict with the Chinese.” Bhutto dismissed any aggressive intentions on the part of China. “If there is to be a Chinese lebensraum, I can’t believe it would be in India, an area that already is so densely populated.” Bhutto also declared that the arms the West already had shipped to India “have weakened our capacity to make an effective contribution” to SEATO and CENTO. “We have to think twice or thrice before we take on additional liabilities or commitments. We need all our capacities for our own defenses.” Bhutto once again was underlining Pakistan’s determination to look upon its military alliances as alliances not against the Communist world but against India.

Pakistan’s excursions into the Communist world have not been confined to China. In 1961, Pakistan, which long had denounced the Soviet Union for an ideology incompatible with the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and for an economic, political, and military penetration into neighboring Afghanistan, sent a delegation to Moscow to secure help on oil exploration. The delegation came back with a $30 million agreement whereby Pakistan agreed to accept a number of Soviet technicians to train the Pakistanis in exploration techniques and gave the Soviets three areas in which to try their luck for oil — an 8000-square-mile sector in the Potwar Plateau in northeast Pakistan near Rawalpindi, one of similar size in the Indus Basin, and a larger sector in northwest Pakistan.

Pakistan was motivated by four factors: an anxious desire to smooth over the U-2 incident in 1960; a simmering resentment against Western oil companies for being the symbol of economic penetration and for overcharging underdeveloped countries for the refined oil products they bring in; an impatience for the oil wealth of the Near East and Indonesia; and a suspicion, voiced in the Pakistan press, that the six American and British oil-exploration firms already in Pakistan were not doing all they could to come up with a significant find which might cut into their profitable export business.

Pakistan agreed to repay the Soviet Union for its $30 million oil investment over a twelve-year period at 2½ percent interest. The repayment is being made in the raw cotton, jute, skins, and hides which constitute Pakistan’s main source of foreign exchange. Last October, Pakistan signed a $1,050,000 barter agreement with the Soviets in which Pakistan is to exchange jute for Soviet railroad ties. The Pakistani Ministry of Commerce described the agreement as a prelude to bigger deals with Communist countries.

The White House frequently has got its first word of Pakistan’s transactions with the Communist countries through its commercial wire-service news ticker. Yet, when the Administration tried to give its Pakistani ally the courtesy of advance notice on the decision to furnish India with arms, Ayub took off on a ten-day hunting trip to the Karakoram Mountains and thereby avoided having to receive President Kennedy’s letter. When the United States decision was publicly announced, Pakistan accused Washington of failing to consult.

In fact, if not in words, Pakistan now is engaged in a selective commitment to the United States. When United States Ambassador Walter P. McConaughy mentions this to the Ministry of External Affairs in Karachi he is reminded that the United States itself had no hesitation in “collaborating” with the Soviet Union against Germany during World War II.

Now the Administration in Washington is faced with a serious decision. The United States some time ago gave Pakistan a twelve-plane squadron of F-104 supersonic jet fighters equipped with sidewinder air-to-air missiles, sophisticated equipment which India does not yet have but would very much like to get. But while the United States has been discouraging India’s requests, Pakistan has been making India even more anxious by demanding of the United States an additional supersonic jet squadron as the first installment of a major replacement program for the Pakistani Air Force’s backbone of United States F-86 fighters. This presents the immediate danger of escalating the war potential in both India and Pakistan. In view of Pakistan’s current relations with the Communist world, this also presents a certain risk for the security of United States weapon design and equipment.

Essentially, the United States is interested in a peaceful Indian subcontinent in which both Pakistan and India can attend to their enormous economic needs and apply the bulk of their national income to feeding and educating their masses. The United States believes that a healthy, interested population is the first line of defense against Communism, anarchy, and tyranny.

The United States also is vitally interested in seeing to it that Pakistan and India point their guns to the north, in defense against their mutual potential aggressor, Communist China.

Since its invasion by China, India has withdrawn most of its forces from the West Pakistan front and concentrated them in the north. But Pakistan still considers India its one major enemy and continues to point its forces at India. In addition, it continues to receive some half billion dollars a year in United States economic and military aid, and constantly wants more. The United States economic aid is given to Pakistan, as to all countries, as a means of helping an underdeveloped population to its feet and into the modern world.

But the military aid is, by Pakistan’s own admission, not being used for the purpose the United States intended: defense against potential Communist aggression. On the contrary, Pakistan is doing its best to befriend the United States’s Communist enemies, with considerable self-exposure to their cunning habits of infiltration. And Pakistan today is using its $50 to $60 million a year in military aid to aim its weapons against India, a country the United States is vitally interested in seeing survive as the major Asian counterweight to Communist China.