US-Pakistan Relations: A Retrospective (They Have Always Been Problematic)

Posted on August 23, 2017
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Foreign Relations, History, People
26 Comments
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Adil Najam

This post was originally published on September 14, 2010, as US-Pakistan relations were taking one of their usual tumbles. It is being reprinted again as they take yet another tumble – this time Donald Trump inspired.

Given the rumblings of where the relations between Pakistan-US relations stand today – especially relations after US President Donald Trumps uninspiring remarks on what he described as his new Afghanistan policy – re-reading this letter written by then Gen. Mohammad Ayub Khan, then Chief of Army Staff to Admiral Arthur Radford, then Chairman Joint Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, is instructive. For Pakistan, as well as for the United States.

It was written in 1955. Yet, it seems as relevant to the relationship today as it was then.



For whatever it is worth, note that this was written in September 1955, before Ayub Khan’s Martial Law but he was already the Minister of Defense. I do not know much about the exact context of the letter, nor about how it was responded to (or whether there was a response). But I do find it an interesting read to understand where US-Pakistan relations have come from, but also to reflect upon where they stand today.

Consider, for example, the second to last paragraph, which is worth reproducing again:

“Forgive me for being frank, but I would be failing in my duty if I did not tell you that our people are completely frustrated. They think they have been given an enormous amount of work unnecessarily and that they have been let down. They are in a mood not to accept an American word however solemnly given. This is sad in that it does not augur well for our future good relationship which was one of the things I had been hoping to develop.”

This post was originally published on September 14, 2010, as US-Pakistan relations were taking one of their usual tumbles. It is being reprinted again as they take yet another tumble – this time Donald Trump inspired.

26 responses to “US-Pakistan Relations: A Retrospective (They Have Always Been Problematic)”

  1. WK Rashid says:

    Thank you Dr. Najam for sharing this [after such long time!].

    Ayub Khan was a visionary. He always wanted Pakistan to be Asian Tiger, rather than Islamic state, as quoted from Book Review of his Autobiography “Friends not Master” below:

    “When dealing with world affairs, he [Ayub] refers to having them viewed as an Asian. It is within the Asian community that he felt the need to establish for Pakistan a permanent place of respect and strength. On the other hand he expresses great disappointment at how the Islamic and specially the Arab world had failed to rise to the occasion and gather themselves on one platform against the problems facing them.”

    Reference: https://www.ravimagazine.com/book-review-friends-not-masters-autobiography-of-general-ayub-khan/

    General Ayub’s autobiography remains a great document from history [you can download in PDF at above link]

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