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Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (1954)

Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (1954)

World War II brought in its wake many new developments and events. The most immediate outcome of the war was the coming of a bipolar world being dominated by capitalist United States and the communist Soviet Union. Subscribing to two different and antithetical ideologies, the two powers indulged in a cold war as US wanted to preserve and strengthen capitalism whereas USSR aspired towards a world revolution. Both started vying for allies and extended economic and military aid whenever needed. Initially the center of cold war was Western Europe but soon attention shifted towards Asia where new events attracted the great powers.

 

After World War II, Britain could not sustain its hold over its colonies due to the wreckage it had underwent during war. Therefore, it deemed it expedient to give independence to its colonies. Thus, it is in the backdrop of these events that Indian subcontinent was partitioned and Pakistan and India came into existence. The partition was a lopsided event in the sense that it created a very strong India while Pakistan was very unstable and shaky. Added to this was the hostility of Indians who never countenanced the idea of vivisection of their motherland. Every attempt was made to undo Pakistan; in this respect it was denied its due share of military equipment, ordnance factories and an amount of 750 million dollars. India also made aggression on Kashmir and annexed it forcefully by suppressing its people ruthlessly. They also went on a war over the Kashmir issue. Referring the matter to UN and other international bodies did not make much headway. Thus, soon after impendence Pakistan confronted a precarious situation whereby her very survival was at stake. A sense of insecurity and aggression from a much powerful and bigger India constantly haunted her. In order to preclude such a prospect, Pakistan desperately needed to strengthen its defenses and security. Thus, Pakistan badly needed a powerful ally who could provide her with the needed military assistance and also to act as an equalizer against India. As military innovation and equipment is necessary for national survival, Pakistan was fulfilling these necessities of by buying from other countries at very inflated prices which put a heavy drain on its financial situation. During these years Pakistan also suffered from severe famines and food shortages which resulted in a very chaotic situation. So faced with such daunting problems, Pakistan could not have kept pace with Indian might had it not been for an alliance with an effective partner.

 

Under Truman doctrine, US had embarked upon a policy of containment _ the policy of checking the expansionist ambitions of Soviet Union. The reason why US became concerned with South Asia was china falling in communist bloc. United States was afraid lest other states of Asia might not be affected by this. Thus, US turned towards India and Pakistan to form a strategic bulwark against Sino_ Soviet communism. Initially United States showed little concern for Pakistan and was more inclined towards India trying to woo her into an alliance. However, India was committed to a non-aligned stance. Her policy of non-alignment, refusal to join US-sponsored pact in 1951 and denial of Chinese aggression during Korean War (1950-19531) led US to become inclined towards Pakistan. Besides, Pakistan’s condemnation of North Koreans as aggressors and responsiveness towards American policies and overtures were enough to force Americans to consider an alliance with Pakistan as an alternative. Hence, Pakistan and United states drew close together and entered into a mutual defense assistance agreement in 19 May 1954.  It also resulted in Pakistan’s joining of SEATO and Baghdad pact _ later CENTO.

 

By signing these defense pacts, Pakistan was guaranteed military and economic aid. In return, Pakistan’s soil was used a base for conducting reconnaissance operations against Soviet Union. Pakistan got substantial gains from these pacts as US poured in money and equipment to strengthen Pakistan against Sino-Soviet ambitions in south Asia and Middle East. US extended over s900 million worth of military equipment under the mutual defense assistance agreement. Pakistan’s army was significantly updated by variety of equipment including tanks and jet fighters. Its communication and radar system was also reorganized. It received equipment for one additional armored division, four infantry divisions, and one armored division, and received support elements for two corps. The Pakistan air force received six squadrons of modern jet aircraft including F-104, B-57, F-86 and c-130; the navy also received twelve ships. Besides, ports of Karachi and Chittagong were modernized. Due to this army was transformed into a well-organized and well equipped force working on the modus operandi of United States forces. Hundreds and thousands of Pakistani officers were given training by US officers. By these pacts Pakistan made up for its deficiencies suffered at partition and now her army had considerably become modern thereby acting as deterrent against the aggression of India. Though, the balance of power still tilted towards India, yet by these incorporations Pakistan felt confident enough to hold out Indian belligerence.

 

Tensions in Pak-US relations were bound to occur given the diverging interests of both were concerned. United States was concerned with extending her policy of containment and the aid was aimed at defending non-communist countries from the aggression of communism. However, for Pakistan it primarily was to increase her defenses and military and economic capability vis-à-vis India. The leaders of Pakistan were first and the foremost concerned with the security and safety of Pakistan which was on numerous occasions threatened by India. Secondly they thought USA might be helpful in settling the Kashmir dispute by pressuring India for arranging a plebiscite in the area. Thus, it was basically Indian aggression that brought Pakistan into the lap of us sponsored pacts. Pakistan emphasized that threat of Indian aggression was a more a great evil than communism and that aggression should be resisted wherever it came from. In fact, Pakistan was not so much threatened by soviet aggression. Us was still reluctant to let go of India and did not want to antagonize her. Therefore India was assured that Pakistan would not use its weapons against India. Pakistan’s decision to join western pacts had invited the wrath of Soviet Union which threatened to attack Pakistan after the U2 incident. On the other hand it led India to look towards Soviet Union for help which she readily extended to India against Pakistan.

 

Pakistan’s disillusionment with USA began when during Sino-Indian border dispute US provided lavish economic aid to India as it still nurtured the hope of drawing India close in containing Sino-Soviet communism. Pakistan was agitated as it clamored that India would use these weapons against Pakistan and that India was more inclined towards communists then what was the rationale for extending this aid. Pakistan’s disconcert with US_ that US was more inclined towards non-aligned India than its ally_ led it to search for other venues and therefore Pakistan tried to forge cordial relations with china and Soviet Union.  United States greatly resented this change and could not gauge the true motive behind it. Further dissentions grew when US aid to Pakistan diminished and it was altogether stopped during 1965 war. During the 1965 war, United States put an embargo on supply of aid to both Pakistan and India and adopted a neutral stance. Pakistan was badly hurt by this decision as India was receiving military aid from Soviet Union as usual while Pakistan’s ally _united states_ stopped its aid.

 

Thus, it is true that in a relationship between disparate powers, the weaker side always suffers. Likewise Pakistan despite the fact that it got considerable military and economic aid from United States suffered a lot due to the volatile nature of US alliance. US never showed concern for Pakistan’s security and cut off the supply of aid when Pakistan made overtures of friendship to china consequent upon US aid to India. For US giving aid to India which was a pro-communist was legitimate, whereas the action of Pakistan was culpable even though it was undertaken under duress. Thus, United States betrayed Pakistan by giving aid to India and left her in the lurch at a critical juncture of 1965 war when Pakistan desperately needed its ally.

About Ali Tariq

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