TWISTS and turns have been the principal characteristics of ties between Islamabad and Washington, which in earlier days of our independence in 1947, till the 1965 war with India were glorious, both having regular top-level contacts, and bonded in defence treaties of SEATO and Cento, but the second phase, beginning with the Peoples Party era of 1972, ups and downs became their hall-mark.
Though opinion can differ or perhaps vary on the subject, but historical, are testimony, proven and recorded in books. Denying this will be deliberate deviation of fact, could only be called fallacious. We had sunny days during Ayub Khan’s visit to United States, with Kennedy and Johnson receiving him with open arms, holding memorable banquets and the likes with him. Way back in the 50s, President Dwight D Eisenhower visited Karachi, drove in a convertible car through streets lined by people, cheering and applauding, and Johnson coming here to register the most memorable even of inviting a camel cart driver Bashir to America.
I fondly remember as school student arterial M A Jinnah Road in Karachi, fluttering flags of Pakistan and America alongwith of countries, linked to military alliances. US AID, Rural aid programme, financed by Washington for a long time, remain fresh in memory, despite passage of nearly half a century. But the John Foster Dulles Era had to fade out in pages of history, and in came leaders like Berkeley University-studied Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, burning with the passion and fire of socialism, and believing in moving his country as its prime minister towards the then communist block, Although Americans were unappy and did apply sanctions on us for signing the 1962 border agreement with China, and restricting use of US military supplies in war against India. But history has it course, and could not stop the young country moving towards China and Russia, then called USSR.
Chou En-Lai and Alexi Kosygin frequented Pakistan, and saw return visits of highest political leadership to Peking(called so then ), and Moscow, Leningrad , now Saint-Petersburg. America’s annoyance was not unnatural, but ties kept growing despite differences, testified by United States being the biggest foreign investor in Pakistan. A multi-purpose project like Dawood Hercules escaped sweeping nationalization of industrial, and financial institutions by Bhutto. A dispassionate analysis shows that America still lives in the heartbeats of Pakistanis, who, though often critical of American policies in South Asia, or applied internationally, continue to make a bee-line for US visa at American diplomatic missions in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad.
Airlines of the world would happily present figures to prove that a large volume of their income comes from Pakistani tourists flocking to East and West Coasts from New York to San Fransisco, and even to midland territories of Texas, Kansas city, Chicago etc. Almost a third of overseas Pakistanis still live in America, feel happy with their vocations . That they are contributing to growth and progress of United States, which they have their homes, is immensely satisfying for compatriots in their country of origin.However it has to be admitted that sailings have been rough more often than not in bilateral knot, tying the two countries still in lasting bond.