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How America lost Pakistan?

The majority of Pakistanis know that there exists a country called the United States of America (Umreeka to the commoner), they give two hoots to the stories, popping up like popcorns, to an elusive letter supposedly sent by the US ambassador in Washington – a letter that has taken the country by storm, resulting in PM advising the President to dissolve the federal parliament.

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Pakistanis are relatively moderate people, with a laid-back attitude towards life. The man on the street, embroiled in making his ends meet, does not bother much about what happens in the corridors of power. Stumbling through the harsh realities of everyday life, a considerable segment of Pakistani society understands now that the moneyed class – the feudal lords, media sharks, businessmen, and political upstarts, exploit religion and politics for their ulterior motives.

Whereas the majority of Pakistanis know that there exists a country called the United States of America (Umreeka to the commoner), they give two hoots to the stories, popping up like popcorns, to an elusive letter supposedly sent by the US ambassador in Washington – a letter that has taken the country by storm, resulting in PM advising the President to dissolve the federal parliament.

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Understanding the matter better

Whereas the legal brains keep exhausting themselves over the finer aspects of Articles 5A, 6A, and 69, etc., the people don’t bother. Yet, they express their displeasure through political rallies, demonstrations, and street scuffles that have now reached the premises of Avenfield Apartments – the hideout of the former PM who is now directing a revolution of sorts against the present government from London. The people are indifferent, yet concerned. This is the paradox.

At present, there are deep divisions between Pakistan and the US, even as there were deep divisions between Iran and the US in 1978. However, there is a major difference. In 1978, the ire of the Iranian people was directed against the ruler-the Shah who was considered America’s stooge. In the present turmoil in Pakistan, it is the sitting PM (technically, at least), who is the target of a US-sponsored regime change.

During the Cold War, whenever the Americans had to pack up from a country or region, they said they had lost it to the “Free World”. This happened in 1945 when the Soviet Union installed its client regimes in Eastern Europe and the eastern half of Germany. Similarly, they “lost” China in 1949 when the communists defeated the nationalists led by Chiang Kai Shek. In recent history, the US lost Iran to the Free World when Khomeini led his revolution against the Shah from a Paris suburb where he was in exile.

Read more: US and Pakistan strive to improve relations

What happened to cause such deep division between the US and Iran?

The origins of the rift between the US and Iran go back beyond the Islamic revolution. Many of Iran’s heartburns concern US manipulations to oust a popular leader and install the Shah. In the Second World War, America was involved in a UK/Soviet effort to keep oil flowing to the Allies from Iran and maintained close links with the country’s ruler as the Cold War got underway, afraid of Soviet ambitions in the region.

In 1953, apprehensive of a communist takeover and restrictions on oil shipments, the CIA joined Britain’s MI6 in orchestrating a coup to remove prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, a man many Iranians regard as a hero for resisting foreign domination. It was an age in which the US and other Western nations were paranoid about the risks posed to their way of life by the advance of communism and expansion of the Soviet bloc.

In the years following the coup, the US kept Iran under its thumb to act as a bulwark against Soviet ambitions, providing aid and, some say, training for the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK. This, according to ex-CIA Iranian field officer William Daughty, left “many Iranians more convinced than ever that the Shah and their country were simply a dominion of the United States, administered by or through the CIA”.

In the end, the Shah had to exit because he had become a symbol of hate – a ruler propped up by the US to serve as its ‘Policeman in the Gulf”. This hatred was reinforced by the fact that whereas the people lived under rampant corruption and an ever-increasing cost of living, the royal family and its beneficiaries lived in selective prosperity generated through revenues from oil.

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We, in Pakistan, are witnessing a similar situation

Many of our politicians came to power by reaching some sort of understanding with the United States. They rules Pakistan till they were fulfilling the US interests. Every one of them, from Ayub Khan down to Nawaz Sharif, was given agenda based on serving the US interests in the region. Ayub Khan, when he refused to toe the US line in the aftermath of the 1965 War, was forced to leave after an almost one-year agitation against his regime – an agitation that started when a group of students from Rawalpindi’s Gordon College was stopped at a customs check post on their way back from a trip to LandiKotal, and their smuggled items, shopped during the tour were confiscated.

In the recent past, Zardari and the Sharifs were the exceptions as they kept rejuvenating their US connection through fresh deals. Imran Khan, presumably, has come on the wrong side of Uncle Sam due to a series of actions that bruised America’s ego, the visit to Russia being the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back.

 

Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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