From Byword- India Today (September 30)
America," Jinnah told author-photographer Margaret Bourke-White just one month after partition in 1947, "needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America." The shadow of Russia muted the claim from pompous to possible. Jinnah always understood the power of an enemy far better than the value of a friend. America, he believed, would buy into the Soviet threat, and Pakistan use it as a decoy to obtain arms for what Jinnah believed would be an existentialist war with India.
Bourke-White remarked, perceptively, while recording the conversation in her book Halfway to Freedom: "Jinnah's most frequently used technique in the struggle for his new nation had been playing off opponent against opponent. Evidently this technique was now to be extended into foreign policy." Pakistan, which abandoned Jinnah's domestic philosophy of a secular Muslim state very quickly, and without remorse, has been more faithful to Jinnah's foreign policy.
Jawaharlal Nehru, reflecting the philosophy of India's freedom movement, set India's foreign policy by a different compass: the search for common friends rather than enemies in common. He dismissed alliances as neo-colonisation. His idealism could bubble to levels unacceptable to his more sceptical colleagues, many of whom accused Nehru privately of dangerous naivete only to be proved publicly right during the 1962 China war.
American foreign policy, shaped by the life-and-death drama of a world war against fascism, quickly followed by another against Communism, understood the impulse of nationalism but was deeply suspicious of any internationalism that blurred the difference between 'good' and 'evil', as Washington defined the terms. Neutrality was almost as grave a crime as hostility. Wartime sensibilities stretched to accommodate any kind of government if it remained onside in the confrontation with the Soviets. The greater threat obviated the problem of lesser evils like dictatorship in the range of allies. To be fair, the Communist bloc was hardly a shining example of democracy, or even social justice; it was equally cynical and less productive to boot. In any case, Washington was at ease with either democrat or dictator in Pakistan as long as both were Cold Warriors.
Much has been written about the impact on India of the collapse of the Soviet Union, rather less about the consequences for Pakistan. The over-extended celebrations of the US-Pak victory in Afghanistan drowned out an obvious reality: friends become as irrelevant as enemies at the end of war. America's alliance with western Europe would quite likely have dissipated after 1945 had the ideological-military challenge from Russia not kept them together. Jinnah had wisely predicted that Soviet Union would force America to befriend Pakistan. But that wisdom was co-terminus with the existence of the Soviet Union.
Geopolitics is a variable science; geography may not change, but politics does. America and Pakistan have drifted into virtual conflict which both governments were loath to acknowledge for different reasons. The Mujahideen who declared war on America, a long list of militias including al Qaeda, continue to treat Pakistan as a sanctuary, a fortress from which they hit America, whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The Pakistan army offers terrorists succour and space in pursuit of a "patriotic" agenda, as a strike force against India and any government in Kabul that refuses to accept Pakistani hegemony in Afghanistan. The Pak military establishment is not particularly unhappy when America bleeds in Afghanistan.
For a long while Washington refused to read the evidence, or pretended it was satisfied with patently manufactured excuses. The Pentagon has swallowed its anger for a decade, in the belief that even a duplicitous Pak army is better than an openly hostile Pak army. It even kept quiet when Pak soldiers ambushed American officers and men on May 14, 2007 at a place called Teri Mangal after a tripartite meeting with Afghans. An American major was killed, and three other officers wounded; the Black Hawk in which they escaped was described as "blood-soaked".
But fiction has become difficult to sustain after the discovery and death of Osama bin Laden. On September 22 Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, put this duplicity on record when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that anti-American terrorists, responsible for 77 US casualties in one truck bomb strike alone, were a "strategic arm" of the ISI. It was a week in which Barack Obama could not find the time to meet Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani. Gilani canceled his trip to New York. Islamabad is scrambling to reorganise with its usual mix of bluster, sulk and SOS to old friends. It will have to come to terms with a radical shift in the strategic environment. India and America now have an enemy in common-the terrorist with a base in Pakistan.