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Invitation from USSR during 1950s

Under the untiring struggle of Indian Muslims in the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged as an ideological Muslim State on the map of the world. The planning and implementation of partition had worst adverse impacts territorially, economically and militarily on Pakistan. Pakistan was in desperate need of military and economic aid at the time of its inception. At the same time, international environment was full of tensions due to the hostility between United States and Soviet Union. In its initial years of independence, Pakistan received invitation from both USSR and USA which could ultimately shaped Pakistan foreign policy in 1950s.


At the time of independence the international environment was characterized by tight bi-polarity. United States and Soviet Union were the dominant powers of the planet. USSR was the leader of communist bloc while USA was the supporters of capitalism all over the world. Both the ideologies were antagonistic to each other and had started networks of alliances and sphere of influences to strengthen themselves and weaken their opponent.


As for as Pakistan’s foreign policy was concerned, it adopted an independent foreign policy while upholding the principles for international law, respect for independence, non-aggression and non-interference in the internal affairs of any country. It is important to be remembered that Pakistan faced serious problems of development and defense and felt severe threat to the very foundation of the newly born Muslim state due to the hostile attitude of India from the time of its inception. India even refused to resolve the differences on the basis of principles of law and justice. Hence then Pakistan’s foreign policy was shaped by the desperate need for the arms to ensure the security of the new state and money to finance its economic machinery and tried their best to find an equalizer against India.


As for as, Pakistan-Soviets Russia relations were concerned, it saw many ups and down from the time of Pakistan’s inception. Though Pakistan had started with a policy of non-alignment and adopted the principles of not siding in the conflicts of ideologies between the nations.


However, Pakistan’s policy of non-involvement in the power politics did not favor it. Regarding the issue of Kashmir, the Soviet’s attitude was neutral while the Western powers of UN Security Council tried to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Status quo on the issues was acceptable to India but not at all to Pakistan and USSR’s attitude was too leaning towards India. Pakistan also made it implicit that it would accept financial assistances from any source, but the Soviets did not respond to it. Moreover, ideologically and politically Soviets socialist system was unattractive for the western minded Pakistani leadership who were committed to Western type of democracy. In the same manner, USSR did not take an initiative to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan. Although, some circles in Pakistan were inspired by rapid economic developments of USSR and its policy of opposition towards imperialism. But the question arises here, why Soviets Union invited Premier Liaqat Ali Khan to visit Moscow?.


The reality was that, two events in the first phase of 1949 compelled USSR and Pakistan to take a fresh look at their relationship. First was India’s decision to remain the member of Common Wealth even after it became a republic. Meanwhile India’s policies were too pro-Western. Second was US president invitation to Nehru to visit the United States on May 7, 1949. In reaction to this Soviets Union extended an invitation to Pakistani premier and desired to visit Moscow. The Soviets invitation was accepted but not materialized due to the conspired circumstances created for him and Liaqat Ali Khan went to United States instead of USSR. No explanation at official level was given for this decision.


However, one fact remain true that, after the second world war US had emerged from the war far  more powerful than it had been in 1938-39. She had mobilized its economy for the purpose of maintaining very large and powerful naval as well as army and air force and also to revive the war stricken economies Western Europe and Japan. On the other hand Russian economy was badly suffered from the war against Nazi’s Germany and was not in position to provide economic assistance to Pakistan. At the same time USA assured Pakistan that there was no alteration in its policies of impartiality to both India and Pakistan. In fact, the key reason of Pakistan preference of USA on USSR was due to Pakistan’s anti-communist rhetoric and discouragements of contacts on official level with Soviet Russia.


In tense situation Pakistan approach  United States because USA was the only promising source of financial and military assistance. Besides, ideologically and politically US system was more eye-catching and near to Pakistan. Being involved in the containment of Soviets influence in Europe and reviving the Western economies on Capitalist models, South Asia was second priority for the US as far as her interests were concerned. However, their response was bit cooperative because of Pakistan’s geo-strategic location as it was situated near the oil rich Gulf region. Thus strategic location helped Pakistan for gaining US cooperation. Constrained by its needs and problems Pakistan approached US for financial aid during the Liaqat Ali Khan visit to USA in May 1950. America showed the interest to broaden cooperation but official response to the question of financial aid was indifferent.


To cut the long story short, Pakistan opted for joining US led bloc instead of Russian bloc which had crucial impacts on the future of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Before examining benefits and costs of alliances, it is important to bear in mind that the key factor behind Pakistan’s policy of joining the Western alliances was the need to find an equalizer against India. Under military pacts Pakistan secured Western military equipments for the armed forces as in January 1957, Ayub Khan could declare “we are no more short of men and material”. The only implicit benefit of the alliances with west was that Pakistan secured more arms and strengthened its defenses against India. However the costs of the alliances were more serious than its benefits. India and USSR came closer to each other against Pakistan as the Soviet interpreted the military pacts as US cold war strategy for the Soviet containment. With that, USSR increased its backing to India against Pakistan and the Indo-Russian links strengthen manifolds. Russia started openly supporting Indian cause on the issue of Kashmir and even acknowledged it a state of India. They supported India politically, economically, military and technically and even established a connection of brotherhood with India.  Besides, Soviet Union also extended its support towards Afghanistan on Pakhtoonistan issue.

More adverse impact was that, USSR abused its veto power by preventing every resolution on Kashmir in the Security Council. So the costs of opting for USA bloc instead USSR were more than its benefits. Even at the time of wars-1965, 1971, Pakistan did not accept any assistance under the military pacts.

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