Following notes on Foreign Policy of Pakistan have been taken from A Brief History of Pakistan by James Wynbrandt.
Foregin Policy During Bhutto’s Tenure:
On the foreign-policy front Bhutto terminated Pakistan’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and SEATO and recognized the Communist nations of East Germany, North Korea, and North Vietnam.
Bhutto pursued a policy of bilateralism, maintaining good relations with all nations by eschewing alliances with any.
The policy’s purpose was to facilitate relations with the three competing major powers: China, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
Foreign Policy during Zia’s Regime:
Relations with the United States improved during Zia’s rule as well. The Iranian Revolution had brought a virulently anti-U.S. Shi’i regime to power in Tehran, and the United States needed friends in the region. Pakistan, dominated by Sunnis, also saw a threat across the border in Iran. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 was another catalyst for the suddenly strong relationship.
Pakistan became a major ally of the United States as money and matériel were routed through Pakistan to support the mujahideen, or holy warriors, who were organized to battle the infidel invaders.
Pakistan, for its support of U.S. efforts, received most-favored-nation trading status.
Foreign Policy during Benazir’s First Tenure, 1988-90
The end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which occurred in the last days of Zia’s rule, signaled a change in Pakistan’s foreign relations.
The Geneva Accords, which ended the war, were signed in April 1988, and the following month Soviet forces began their withdrawal.
Pakistan had lost its strategic importance in the cold war.
Without the cold war, whose end was marked by the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the economic and military blandishments both sides had offered Pakistan and other emerging countries had come to an end.
She attempted to strengthen the country’s alliance with the United States.
In June 1989 Bhutto visited the United States to allay fears of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. She told the administration that Pakistan had no nuclear weapons, but defended her nation’s right to pursue its nuclear program. In an address to a joint session of Congress she proclaimed Pakistan’s willingness to make a pact with India declaring the subcontinent a nuclear-free zone.
Bhutto tried to ease tensions with India while seeking solutions to the disputes—primarily Kashmir—that had bedeviled relations since the birth of the two nations. In 1989 Rajiv Gandhi (r. 1984–89), India’s prime minister, visited Bhutto in Islamabad. In talks Bhutto reiterated Pakistan’s willingness to make the region a nuclear-free zone, a proposal Gandhi declined to consider.
Bhutto succeeded in gaining readmission to the Commonwealth in 1989, making Pakistan eligible for trading privileges with other dominions, which the country desperately needed. Previous efforts to rejoin had been blocked by India on the grounds that Pakistan was not a democracy, as it was under military rule. With a civilian again in charge of the nation, that objection was voided.
Foreing Policy during Nawaz’s First Regime, 1990-93:
In foreign affairs Nawaz Sharif strengthened relations with Central Asia’s Muslim republics that had formed in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
Pakistan also joined the international coalition to drive Iraq out of Kuwait during the Gulf War (1990–91)
Foreign Policy during Benazir’s Second Regime, 1993-96:
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush (r.1989–93) did not certify Pakistan as a nuclear-free nation, thereby triggering an aid embargo.
In 1986 the United States and Pakistan had agreed on a $4 billion economic development and security assistance program that Pakistan would receive, paid out from 1988 to 1993.
Pakistan was in the midst of an ambitious program to refurbish its armed forces, looking across the border at its bigger, nuclear-armed enemy, India.
In addition to depriving Pakistan of material it needed to have a credible defensive force, the Pressler Amendment targeted only Pakistan, though other nations were known to have nuclear weapons programs that violated the terms of the UN nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
Moreover, India had started the nuclear arms race and had escaped all penalties of the Symington and Pressler amendments.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States deteriorated sharply from 1990 through 1993, as issues of weapons development, terrorism, and narcotics caused a growing rift between Islamabad and Washington.
In 1992 the United States almost declared Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, primarily due to its support for Kashmiri militants.
In the summer of 1993 the United States placed more sanctions on Pakistan, charging it with receiving prohibited missile technology from China.
In late 1993 U.S. president Bill Clinton (r. 1993–2001) proposed revising the Pressler Amendment, citing the unequal treatment of Pakistan and India over their respective nuclear programs. But Clinton faced strong objections from legislators and withdrew his proposal in early 1994.
In January 1995, the thawing relationship between the two nations was underscored by a visit to Pakistan by U.S. defense secretary William Perry (r. 1994–97).
Following the visit, Perry proclaimed that the Pressler Amendment had failed in its objective to halt Pakistan’s nuclear program and had actually been counterproductive.
Benazir Bhutto traveled to Washington, D.C., in April, and in early 1996 the Brown Amendment was passed, which removed nonmilitary aid from the purview of the Pressler Amendment and gave the president a onetime waiver to permit the release of the military equipment embargoed since 1990.
President Clinton authorized the release of some $368 million in military equipment. Though the F-16s were not among the approved items.
Benazir Bhutto continued to pursue the country’s long-standing policy of seeking influence and power in Afghanistan to balance the threat felt from India.
During her first term as prime minister, training camps for mujahideen had remained open, and Pakistan had issued visas for thousands of militants from more than 20 countries traveling to the camps. The goal, many observers believed, was to maintain an army of jihadists who could be deployed to wage proxy wars against Pakistan’s rivals in Kashmir and Central Asia.
It was evident Bhutto intended to keep a force of militants available to use as a weapon against India in Kashmir.
When Bhutto was reelected for a second term as prime minister in 1993, she was eager to encourage trade with Pakistan’s neighbors in Central Asia. As part of that initiative she backed a pipeline running from Turkmenistan through southern Afghanistan to Pakistan.
However, the region had become less stable in the aftermath of the war against the Soviets, even as the Taliban began to emerge as a power in Afghanistan in 1993.
Rather than support a wider peace process in Afghanistan, Bhutto backed the Taliban, who she saw as a force that would provide security to protect the proposed pipeline and give stability to their country.
After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the ISI sought to extend Pakistan’s regional control across Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics. The ISI began funding the Taliban (“students”), a Pashtun Islamic student movement in Kandahar. Using bribery, guerrilla tactics, and military support, the ISI helped install the Taliban as rulers in Kabul in 1996 and eventually extend its control over 95 percent of the country.
Thus, it was under Bhutto, and with her encouragement, that the Taliban rose to power in Afghanistan and the power of religious fundamentalists grew in Pakistan.
In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations a few months before her death in 2007, Bhutto said, “I remember when the Taliban first came up in neighboring Afghanistan. Many of us, including our friends from the U.S., initially thought they would bring peace to that war-torn country. And that was a critical, fatal mistake we made. If I had to do things again, that’s certainly not a decision that I would have taken” (Bhutto 2007).
Foreign Policy During Nawaz’s Second Tenure, 1996-99
Early in May 1998 India’s new government under Prime Minister Atul Bihari Vajpayee (r. May–June 1996, 1998–2004), leader of the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tested a nuclear device, thereby confirming that it possessed nuclear weapons.
Two weeks later, on May 28, Pakistan conducted its own tests of five nuclear devices, with a reported yield of up to 40 kilotons, at a nuclear test facility at Chaghi, in Baluchistan.
On the same day the Sharif government proclaimed an emergency, suspending basic rights and freezing all foreign-currency accounts in Pakistani banks.
The United Nations passed a unanimous resolution calling on both Pakistan and India to end their nuclear weapons programs, and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan (r. 1997–2007) urged both countries to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Pakistan expressed willingness to sign the treaty if India did the same, but India declined.
By the time of the 1998 nuclear tests, Pakistan’s nuclear program (both military and domestic) had been functioning for more than two decades with assistance from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), France, and China.
Following Pakistan’s nuclear tests of late May and early June 1998, the United States reimposed sanctions (excluding humanitarian assistance), which had been eased in 1995, against Pakistan.
Japan joined the United States, freezing most of its development aid to Pakistan and withdrawing support for new loans for Pakistan in international bodies.
Pakistan’s fragile economy, buffeted since the beginning of the 1990s, faced potential collapse. The Sharif government had to negotiate bank loans in July 1998 to cover the budgetary shortfall caused by the sanctions, while increasing the price of nondiesel gasoline. That same month Standard and Poor’s downgraded Pakistan’s rating, predicting imminent bankruptcy.
After the two countries tested nuclear devices, tensions between India and Pakistan steadily increased. In February 1999 Sharif and Vajpayee attempted to de-escalate the situation. Vajpayee traveled to Lahore by bus and was met by Sharif at the Wagah border crossing on the Grand Trunk Road.
The two leaders issued the Lahore Declaration, defining the measures the countries would each take to stabilize relations.
All Pakistan political groups welcomed the effort to promote peace between Pakistan and India.
However, Kashmir remained a flashpoint between Pakistan and India, ever threatening to plunge the two countries back into war.
Muslim Kashmiri fighters, supported by Pakistan, continued their battle against Indian occupation forces. The fighters infiltrated Indian-controlled Kashmir and attacked symbols of Indian rule, including army posts and police stations. In response the Indian army established border posts along the Line of Control to combat the attacks. Because of the high altitude of these posts—from about 12,000 to more than 15,000 feet (4,000–5,200 m)—troops were withdrawn during the winter.
In April 1999, before Indian troops returned to their high-altitude garrisons, Kashmiri guerrillas captured posts along mountain ridges near the Indian-occupied towns of Kargil and Drass. From their positions the guerrillas launched artillery fi re on National Highway 1, which runs north from Kashmir’s capital, Srinagar.
Pakistan denied any knowledge of or support for the guerrilla action. But India claimed identification taken from slain guerrillas revealed they were members of Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry, a paramilitary force under Pakistan’s control.
Beginning in May Indian forces counterattacked in what was to become the first land war in history between two declared nuclear powers.
Two of its aircraft strayed into Pakistani territory, one of which was shot down.
The potential for a nuclear confrontation caused worldwide concern. As the fighting continued from May into July, and the Pakistani forces were slowly pushed back, U.S. president Clinton helped persuade Pakistan to use its influence with the guerrillas to stop fighting.
Bowing to international pressure, Sharif withdrew all Pakistani troops from Indian-held territory to the Line of Control. The guerrillas left the captured territory by August 1999. The withdrawal of Pakistani forces further increased Sharif’s unpopularity at home.
Foreign Policy after 9/11:
During his first two years in power Musharraf sought to bolster his image and support within Pakistan by taking the traditional position regarding India and expressing support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. The former position upheld his popularity with his main base of support, the military, while the latter placed him in good standing with the Islamists.
He also had to reposition himself with the West, which was dismayed at yet another military coup in Pakistan.
Under Musharraf Pakistan not only supported the Kashmir uprising but infiltrated manpower into the region.
In July 2001 Musharraf met with Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (r. 1996, 1998–2004) at Agra, India, to pursue a settlement on the Kashmir issue. At the Agra Summit the leaders also discussed reducing the risk of nuclear confrontation, closer commercial ties, and freeing of prisoners of war. But a solution to the Kashmir dispute continued to elude the leaders, and the meetings collapsed.
On December 13, 2001 Pakistani terrorists disguised as tourists planned to attack the Indian parliament and hold the legislators hostage until they agreed to settle the Kashmir dispute. But security stopped their explosives-laden car from entering the compound; the terrorists were killed in an ensuing gunfight.
The Pakistani government denied involvement, but in reaction Vajpayee ordered the Indian army to deploy on Pakistan’s border, and the Indian navy sailed within striking distance of Karachi.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations threatened a nuclear response to an attack. Meanwhile, U.S. officials pressured the Indian government to pull back its forces from the border.
During 2000 and the first half of 2001 Musharraf’s policy toward the United States focused on getting the sanctions lifted or, at the very least, the money returned that Pakistan had already paid for the undelivered fighter jets while employing his regional strategy.
He managed to score a coup when President Bill Clinton came to Pakistan for a brief visit in March 2000. Clinton not only urged Musharraf to reinstate the democratic institutions of Pakistan’s government, he also pushed for a settlement of the Kashmir conflict and assistance with getting the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden, whom the United States held responsible for two attacks against U.S. embassies in 1998.
Musharaf promised to intervene with the Taliban on behalf of U.S. interests, but as he later admitted in his memoirs, “After the Taliban came to power, we lost much of the leverage we had with them” (Musharraf 2006, 203).
Events of September 11 altered the dynamic of the region and once again brought Pakistan into a close alliance with the United States.
Within hours of the attacks the U.S. government concluded that they probably had been planned by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, where he had been given sanctuary by the Taliban. Any military reprisal would require Pakistan’s cooperation.
Until the events of September 11 Musharraf had continued the Central Asia policy of his predecessors. He supported the Taliban government in Afghanistan, seeking stability in the region, improved access to Central Asia, and an ally in Kashmir against India.
On September 12 Pakistani diplomats were given a choice by the U.S. government, delivered by U.S. deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage (served 2001–06): Pakistan could either support the Taliban, or it could support the United States.
General Musharraf chose to join the United States in its War on Terror.
Musharraf reassigned some pro-Taliban senior army officers and retired others. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
In a matter of days after the attacks, the United States was permitted to use four air bases in Pakistan for support, rather than offensive, operations. Pakistan also allowed use of its airspace for overflights of military aircraft engaged in combat operations. In return Pakistan received some $600 million per year in aid, and $3 billion in loans was forgiven.
The United States and coalition partners launched Operation Enduring Freedom to invade Afghanistan, remove the Taliban from power, and capture Osama bin Laden. Within two months the operation had driven the Taliban from power In the aftermath of the U.S. campaign bin Laden was believed to have fled to Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Now fully vested in the situation in Pakistan, U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell (served 2001–06) traveled there in January 2002, following the crisis caused by the attempted terrorist attack on India’s parliament. Powell made all future military and economic assistance contingent upon Pakistan divulging the location of its nuclear weapons, which Pakistan reluctantly agreed to do. U.S. and British firms built a command and control system to ensure that the nuclear weapons were secured. Pakistan also agreed to de-mate its nuclear core from the trigger mechanism and store the two separately, as was the practice in India and other nuclear powers. As a reward the United States provided Pakistan with an additional $1.2 billion in economic aid, and additional military equipment to aid the search for Osama bin Laden.
For complete Pakistan Affairs notes click here.