Suez Canal crisis is referred to a set of conflicts which eventually culminated as a war between Britain, Israel, and France, against Egypt in 1956 and finished in 1958. The conflict appeared with the gradual evolution of Nationalism in Egypt and major offensives launched by the Israel in return on the Egyptian territory made President Abdul Nasser to Nationalize the Suez Canal which was the repository of international transportation. All major trade roots and transportations were made via this canal which halted the business of almost whole world. This crisis was the juncture of military and diplomatic conflicts among the allies and Egypt. On 26th of July 1956 President Abdul Nasser took the decision to nationalize the canal and the main objective of allies was to regain the control of canal which was proving to be a scuttling cause for their economy. The invasion of Egypt caused the ripples all over the world and in the end by the pressure of UN and United States the allies had to withdraw without attaining their ostensible goals.
Before analyzing Pakistan’s policy and stance on this crisis the history of Suez Canal is very important to be discussed. After the formation of Suez Canal it became the most important and shortest route between Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. It was completed in 1869 by the French finance and run by Egyptian company. Due to some financial crises the company had to sell the 44% shares of this canal which was bought by the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1875. The monopoly over the canal was over thrown by the Egyptian Nationalists after Second World War when British Empire was about to fall. On 23rd July 1952 after a military coup the Egypt was made a Republic and after that eventually the most vital asset in the eyes of allies the Canal was fully taken over by the Egyptian government which initiated Sues Canal crisis also named as Sinai War or Arab-Israel War .
After the start of Suez Crisis the whole world came under its influence and blocs of mutual interests came on same sides. Pakistan being a member of commonwealth and an ardent ally of capitalist bloc sought her interests and preferences secure with the allies on official level. On the national stage Pakistan’s stance was highly criticized by the people of Pakistan. This crisis got lots of popular support for the Muslim brethren who were under the assault of tripartite aggression. But few reservations and clarifications were made by the government of Pakistan. It was the time when bilateral relations of Pakistan and Egypt were very sour. Bad blood between both the countries was prevailing due to the policy initially adopted by Pakistan regarding this matter. After a stark rebuttal of Pakistani people regarding policy adopted by the government they had to change their stance on Egypt and assured to give possible support to Egypt. But some positive measures taken by the government of Pakistan such as she upheld the right of Egypt as a sovereign state to nationalize. Pakistan had extended its support to the Egyptian struggle against invasion. It had backed the Egyptian demand for the evacuation of British occupation forces from the Suez Canal Zone. Pakistan stood against the joint attack of three forces on Egypt. The paradoxical predicament in which Pakistan was left was very hard to make a firm policy regarding this crisis. On one hand it was really important for Pakistan that the Canal should remain open and on the other hand public pressure was not letting Pakistan not to support Egypt openly. Initially Pakistan adopted policy restraint and followed following framework.
- Condemned the use of force against Egypt.
- Egypt’s sovereign right to control the canal was acknowledged.
- Negotiations were preferred against aggression.
- Method was to be inferred which could help both the owner and users of the canal without any exploitation.
Aforementioned points were taken care of in order to make policy regarding Suez Canal Crisis. So a neutral kind of stance was adopted by Pakistan and the government refrained to accept Western or Eastern proposals. This kind of stance aggravated the animosity of Egyptian government towards Pakistan. Pakistan’s suggestion to involve a mediator such as United Nations to solve the problem was sternly rejected by Egyptian government. The matter was envisaged by the Egyptians as a blow on their sovereignty to involve anyone in their domestic affairs.
In the end it will be right to say that this issue deteriorated the relations of both the countries on official level in spite of having domestic and popular support regarding this matter. The policy regarding this issue was murky and inconsequential in order to bring out solid solution to the problem.