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President Ayub’s Visit to U.S.S.R

Relations between U.S.S.R. and Pakistan have seen a lot of ups and down during the first decade after Pakistan’s independence. This period is vitally crucial in the sense that the world had divided into two blocs, communist led by soviet union and capitalist led by United States of America. The confrontation between USA and USSR made it difficult for the new independent states that who will be the best choice to make friendship with. In addition to the animosity of these two super powers, Pakistan and India’s rivalry greatly influenced the foreign policies of these two and of the cold war rivals towards them as well. So Pakistan foreign policy and its twists can better be seen by this angle. Not only that, Indian foreign policy makers also could not ignore Pakistani moves. The point is that Pakistan finally made the decision and  aligned itself with the western bloc and in consequence this move created hostility for Pakistan in Moscow as she did not want the south Asian countries to be involved in the fight of  the super powers. After having experienced great vicissitudes, Islamabad and the Kremlin leaders strongly realized that they could not remain but to improve ties for the betterment of the region and importantly to gain their established interests from each other.


When Khrushchev took the charge of the government, he showed his inclinations towards Pakistan that he wanted good relations with Pakistan. Interest thing to note here is that both the countries felt that the reason behind their cool relation was the absence of visits of the leaders to each other. After all Soviet ambassador in Islamabad conveyed the invitation of Khrushchev to president Ayub and was promptly accepted by the president. Eventually Ayub’s visit to Moscow took place in April 1965.

Firstly it is important to superficially discuss the reasons of twists in the foreign policies of both the countries. In case of Pakistan, antagonism towards India coaxes Pakistani policy makers into setting their new moves. In addition to this, during Ayub era Pakistan had adopted the policy of bilateralism which was mainly based on relations with USA, USSR and china at the same time. On the other hand the turn in the Soviet policy was firstly the concern of Pakistan’s growing relations with People’s Republic of china another giant in the region. Some other very important issues were necessary to be discussed at high level regarding both the countries interests. Pakistan was concerned with the soviet stand on Kashmir, the pashtoonistan issue and the increasing military aid by soviets to India. The soviets were impatient to discuss the use of Pakistan bases by America, Pakistan’s membership in western military pacts.


Ayub tried to justify his membership in western pacts and said that the main and painful concern for Pakistan was its security. For this purpose Pakistan had to take such steps by which its security can be guaranteed to some extent. He also assured the soviets leaders that his territory would never be used against them. The soviets, to appease Pakistan’s concern over  military aids to india, told Ayub that they supplied to India only some small sort of arms that only after the Chinese humiliating defeat on India. Furthermore the soviets wanted to save India from western imperialism. Ayub Khan tried to remove the misconception Pakistan and Chinese relations are not based on their common animosity towards India but the Chinese peaceful intentions for the region. On the other hand the Kremlin leaders demanded that Pakistan should prohibit foreign military bases on its territory, prohibit foreign nuclear weapons on its territory and limitation of military cooperation with military blocs. However after expressing their concerns and demands nothing important came out from this momentous visit of Ayub but it was not without some concern for other powers.  It was momentous not in the sense that something beneficial came out for Pakistan but in the sense that soviets growing concern on Pakistan’s fully support to USA reduced to some extent. At least Pakistan gave the message that she was not allied only with the western countries but she also wanted cordial relation with soviets as well.


Another repercussion of this visit was the warning from People’s Republic of china who honestly wanted good relations with Pakistan and wanted to save Pakistan from the treacherous net of the soviets.  Interestingly Washington was not much worried about this development,  she  wanted to see a rift between Islamabad and Peking and  this visit could have provided them. Most importantly it grieved India as she did not want an aligned contry like Pakistan making friendship with the communists. It after all came out as not so strong a relation which could make New Delhi so worried. It also brought nothing beneficial for Pakistan as the relation would become deteriorating in coming years.


The political dialogue between the two countries was expected to be advantageous for Pakistan. Pakistani foreign policy makers were bitterly criticized because they missed the opportunity when Moscow invited Liaqat Ali Khan to make good relations. This time Pakistan tried to test the soviets and got the results that soviets were not worth friendship for Pakistan. The failure of this visit also partly due to rigidness of Kremlin leaders and partly due to Ayub’s distrust on Soviet leaders.

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