“No more funding to Pakistan” – was the US President Donald Trump’s first tweet on New Year’s Day, which clearly sets the priority of US to fightback terrorism and to support India in all stance to counter terrorism. He did highlight the fact that almost 33 billion dollars were given away during the last 15 years in return for nothing but lies and decent. But the question emerges is that why was the US, a country thousands of miles away funding Pakistan for all these years and what changed?

This complex tale begins in 1947. After years of struggle, India finally gained independence from British rile but not without paying a price. The country was divided on religious lines and Pakistan was born comprising of two territories –One in the West and the other in the East. In the West, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, lying between both nations, turned into a focal point of conflict. Pakistan, then struggled to position as non-aligned member of the International community. And thereby, Former Prime Minister tried to establish friendly relations with both Soviet Union as well as with the United States with the hope that it will be benefitted from an alliance with both superpowers- the strongest countries at that time but surprisingly they had diametrically opposed ideologies – One communist and the other capitalist which often clashed in the post era war. The rift was deep, the atmosphere mistrustful and the world was largely divided into 2 blocs – the pro US and pro Soviets. And that’s how the bittersweet relation between Pakistan and America started.

Soon Pakistan found that USSR was tilted in favour of rivals i.e. India and thereby forced Pakistan to move closer to the US. On an invitation from the US, then Prime Minister Ali Khan paid a visit to the country in 1950. Since then, many leaders visited America, including Army commander Ayub Khan, who said that “he didn’t come here to look at barracks. Our army can be your army if you want us. But let’s make a decision”. Literally that statement meant that Pakistan didn’t want to portrait as inferior nation but wanted to come into mutual agreement to benefit both the nations simultaneously.

Ayub Khan’s role in politics continued to grow, he signed CENTO (Central Organisation –a military alliance of the Cold War) and other Mutual defence agreement with the US and in 1958 took over the country’s presidency. Pakistan was now under a military dictatorship. The Cold War was at its height and the move aligned well with US interest.

While the US provided Pakistan funding and training, they received in return facilities inside Pakistan from which they set up a CIA base and conducted spy missions over the Soviet Union. Economic and other benefits through this new friendship remained mostly with West Pakistan. As a result, East Pakistan developed anti US and anti-West Pakistan feelings.

While India and China went to War in 1962, US President JFK offered India economic and military aid and Ayub Khan was not pleased. Pakistan was also growing close to China during this time and relations with US were deteriorating. The US felt that Pakistan lacked the stability needed to justify further readings. At the same time, Ayub khan was getting bolder in his stand against India in 1964 Pakistani Army troops disguised as locals entered Jammu and Kashmir to spread discord and fuelled an uprising among the locals which they hoped would result in the ultimate takeover of the state.

The move was a failure and escalated into the war. The US placed an embargo on both nations in terms of further supply of ammunition of war equipments and also put sanctions on funding to both nations. Consequently, Pakistan suffered the consequences which proved too costly for their economy. Growth rate that year fell to less than 1 percent and Ayub Khan was forced to relinquish power. Growing differences both geographically and politically led to Civil War between East Pakistan and West Pakistan. And East Pakistan with India’s help managed to break away forming Bangladesh.

India then conducted nuclear tests in 1974 pushing Pakistan to build its own arsenal further straining ties with the United States who always asserted the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear weapons across the world US President Jimmy Carter cut military aid to Pakistan in 1970 over the construction of a secret Uranium facility. Pakistani students then burnt the US embassy in Islamabad resulting in the deaths of 2 US marines and 2 Pakistanis. It was the lowest point in the two countries relations – but then something changed in the following month, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

The US fearful of Soviet expansion looked to their old ally Pakistan as a front line defence against communism. They approved a 3.2 billion dollar and package for Pakistan, and the country turned into the main route through which arms were supplied to the insurgent group called the Mujhahideen. This lasted 9 years in which about 2 million people lost their lives. After the war US disengaged from Pakistan and in 1998 both India and Pakistan declared themselves as nuclear powers, much to the disappointment of the US.

Following the attacks of September 11th, the US launched its war on terrorism and Pakistan offered its help, abandoning support to the Taliban in Afghanistan and joining hands with the US. In the next 7 years, the US provided a staggering 12 billion dollars in aid and equipment including aircrafts, anti tank missiles and helicopters.

But in 2008, the US began to question Pakistan’s commitment. Then NASA director Mike claimed that the ISI was tipping off Jihadists in advance before Americans had the chance to attack them. Even before Pakistani President Parvez Musharraf had admitted that part of US funds were diverted to prepare for war with India instead of all being used for its intended cause, which was to fight terrorism. There were even allegations that Pakistan has shielded Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden on its soil. In 2011, the economist observed that Pakistan had become an embarrassment for the US. The downfall in relation culminated with US President Donald Trump’s new strategy for the region and a rising anti US sentiment in Pakistan.

With the recent election of the Pakistani PM Imran Khan, and his commitment to improve ties with the US, we can only wait and see how this relation proceed in future.

Written by Ayush Bansal for The Connectere

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