Foreign Relations

Simla Agreement

 After the damning defeat of 1971, Pakistan was in poor and pitiable state, while India, in every respect was most dominant, in a position to dictate its terms. What did Mr. Bhutto have in his hands to compel his counterpart Indira to agree to his terms? The situation for Mr. Bhutto was very difficult, his path was full of thorns; but one of his remarkable qualities was that he had never lost heart even in the most difficult and the most hopeless situations.

He rose equal to the occasion by his rare natural gifts, and he amply proved it in Simla. On 21st June 1972, President Bhutto flew with his daughter Ms. Benazir and his entourage to Simla, where the Quaid-e-Awam had his most crucial and historical talks and discussions with the ruling Indian regime and the astute Hindu politicians. Just as Jinnah was the sole spokesman of the Muslims of United India, so was Mr. Bhutto the sole spokesman of Pakistan. He had taken the largest entourage with himself on this occasion.

Islamic Summit Conference and The Third World

He called the Islamic Summit Conference at Lahore on 22-24 February 1974, which proved a tremendous success. Bhutto’s capacities were much bigger than the geographical limits of Pakistan.

Immediately after assuming political power, he toured most of the Muslim countries, contacted Heads of the State, discussed the situation under which Pakistan had to suffer, he explained the potentials of the Muslim countries; and spoke about his further programme for welfare of the Muslim World.

By his highly impressive and most logical arguments, he could at once convince the Muslim Rulers of the grave situation that the Muslim World had to face, the patent and latent potentials which they possessed, and the imminent need of unity for their survival. Thus, he enlisted their support for Pakistan whose international image was touching the lowest ebb at that time.

Relations with China:

 Friendly relations between Pakistan and China were firmly established in 1963. Mr. Bhutto was known to have made a significant contribution to their development; the Chinese leaders held him in high personal regard. During his visit to Beijing in February 1972 they agreed to write off some of their earlier loans to Pakistan amounting to S110 million. In may they sent Pakistan 60 MiG-19 fighters and 100 T-54 and T-59 tanks as part of a new S300 million economic and military aid package which Mr. Bhutto was said to have negotiated during his visit.

Political cooperation between Pakistan and China was even more remarkable. The Shanghai communiqué at the end of President Nixon’s visit to China in February 1972 included a commitment to the territorial integrity of Pakistan. Using its veto in the Security Council, China kept Bangladesh out of the United Nations for a time and did not establish diplomatic relations with it until October 1975, which was more than a year after Pakistan had recognized it.

Indeed, in 1973, and 1974 the Chinese foreign Ministry declined to accept letters which Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has sent for Premier Chou En-Lai, and which the Burmese and Yugoslav embassies in Beijing had tried to deliver. Similarly, China did not agree to an exchange of ambassadors with India until diplomatic relations between Pakistan and India were restored in July 1976. In both cases the Chinese diplomacy was aimed at inducing settlements in South Asia that would be acceptable to Pakistan.

 The government of Pakistan, on its part, rebuffed the Soviet Union’s Asian security scheme because of its anti-Chinese orientation, and it used its diplomatic resources to bring about an improvement of China’s relations with Iran and some of the Arab states. At a some what more mundane level, Pakistani businessmen acted as purchasing agents for China to acquire items in the international market which the Chinese themselves could not buy.

Relations with United States

 Pakistan’s relations with the United States were free of serious trouble until about the middle of 1976. American economic assistance to Pakistan remained substantial, and it was able to buy ammunition, vehicles, and spare parts for the American military equipment it had. But the supply of whole units in major categories, such as aircraft and tanks, which was suspended in 1965, was not resumed, inspite of the urging of Mr. Bhutto and a favorable decision by the Ford administration in February 1975.

Henry Kissinger implies that while he and Nixon were not unreceptive to Mr. Bhutto’s request, it could not be met because of strong opposition in the United States Congress. Moreover, there was little sympathy for Mr. Bhutto, and considerable disapproval of his style, among the career officials in the Department of State, whose area specialists had always been more favorably disposed toward India. Kissinger notes that Mr. Bhutto’s “anti-American tune” played to “serve his domestic purposes,” and his “cynical conduct” from time to time, had created a “legacy of distrust” that haunted him within our government throughout his political life.

In 1976 Pakistan was negotiating to buy, and the United States appeared willing to sell, 110 American A-7 fighter-bombers. But it seems the United States made the sale conditional upon Pakistan agreeing not to acquire a nuclear reprocessing plant, which it had contracted to buy from France. The Plant became a major irritant in Pakistani-American relations.

Mr. Bhutto was peaceable but defiant toward India; peaceable because his country did not have the capacity to wage conflict; defiant, because, as a patriot and as his country’s Prime Minister, he thought it was his duty to resist India’s hegemonic ambitions and designs.

Relations with Soviet Union

The Soviet leaders had assisted India in defeating and dismembering Pakistan in 1971. During Mr Bhutto’s visit to Moscow in March 1972 they linked the improvement of Soviet-Pakistan relations with the normalization of relations among Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. They agreed to restore trade and aid relations, which were suspended in 1971. Rafi Raza, Mr. Bhutto’s Minister for Industries, went to Moscow in December 1974 and brought back word of a Soviet agreement to advance 4.5 billion rupees, in foreign exchange, to help Pakistan build a steel mill near Karachi.

He said the mill would go into production in 1980, employ some 40000 persons, and help the development of Port Qasim. It is not clear how much of the promised funds were released while Mr. Bhutto was still in office. As of June 30, 1977, the Soviet Union had, over the years, committed a total of S517.64 million in loans to Pakistan, but it had actually disbursed only S82.49 million. The mill was eventually built and went into production, but not during Mr. Bhutto’s tenure.

Moscow continued to place a higher value on its relations with India and Afghanistan, and as long as Pakistan’s relations with these two countries remained tense, therefore Pakistan’s relations with the Soviet Union could not improve significantly. Pakistan’s membership in CENTO, its alliance with the United States, and its friendship with China were just as irritating to the Soviet Union now as they were before. Mr. Bhutto declined support for the Soviet Union now as they were before. Mr. Bhutto declined support for the Soviet project of creating an Asian security system on the grounds that it would be directed against China. He also turned down a Soviet request for access to Pakistani roads for transiting goods in Soviet-Indian trade. The Soviets, on their part, took a hand in fomenting separatism in NWFP and Balochistan.

Relations wsith Afghanistan

Governments in Afghanistan have traditionally claimed that they have a “political” dispute with Pakistan, which must be settled before the two countries can be friendly. At worst they demand that the provinces of NWFP and Balochistan be allowed to secede from Pakistan and form a state of their own, to be called Pakhtunistan, which may remain independent or join Afghanistan. When the Pakistan-Afghan cold war is in thaw, Kabul asked that the government of Pakistan allow the Pathan and Baluchi counter-elite to do their political work, compete for power in the Pakistani political system, and rule when and where they win. Between 1963 and 1973, while King Zahir Shah exercised a moderating influence in the Afghan government, the issue remained silent.

Mr. Bhutto visited the king shortly after assuming office and received assurances that Afghanistan would not do anything to hamper Pakistan’s recovery from its recent war with India. Prime Minister Mr. Bhutto visited President Daoud in Kabul in June 1976, and Preso\ident Daoud came to Rawalpindi in August. The two sides then agreed to abide by the Bandung principles of peaceful coexistence and avoid interference in each other’s domestic affairs.

Mr. Bhutto later wrote that president Daoud had agreed at these talks to recognize the Durand Line as the frontier between the two countries, and thus to bury the Pakhtunistan issue, if the government of Pakistan would release the NAP leaders from Balochistan and NWFP, who had been in jail since 1973 and 1975 respectively. President Daoud was shaken by the spreading discontent in his country and an uprising in the Punjsher region in July 1975. Thus, Mr. Bhutto, let President Daoud know that interference in the domestic affairs of a neighbor was a game he could play just as effectively.

Relations with Iran

 Pakistan’s relations with Iran were always cordial, because the Pakistanis entertained a strong sense of religious, linguistic, and cultural affinities with the Iranian people. The two countries had been allies of the United States, and of each other, against the threat of Soviet expansionism. During the 1950s and much of the 1960s, the elite in Pakistan thought they were ahead of the Iranians in terms of economic, administrative, and even political modernization. But their status plunged as Pakistan met defeat and dismemberment in 1971 and as Iran became rich due to enormous increases in its oil revenues. The Shah of Iran assumed the role of protector of Pakistan.

After the British announced their intention to withdraw from the Persian Gulf in 1971, the Shah was determined, with American approval, to make Iran the dominant power in the region and an overseer for excluding, or minimizing, Soviet presence and influence in the region.

He embarked upon a massive program of building Iran’s military capability to equip it for its role. The Shah was aware that his design conflicted with a similar Indian drive for primacy in the area. Afghanistan, an ally of the Soviet Union and India, and Egypt, a major power in the Arab world, might also oppose the Shah’s urges. He tried to conciliate these likely opponents of his project with offers of economic assistance and collaboration.

Relations With Arab States

 Mr. Bhutto worked to develop relationships of mutual respect, even affection, with several Arab leaders, notably Muammar Qaddafi, Yasser Arafat, and Sheikh Zayd ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates, and he was appropriately respectful to the Kings of Saudi Arabia. Benazir Bhutto has written that he won their confidence by offering them cooperation on their terms and for their good, and by assuring them that Pakistan did not desire a hegemonic role, and that it did not see Iran or any Arab state in the area as a rival. He supported Arab and Islamic causes in his meetings with these rulers and leaders, and he articulated their concerns eloquently in international forums

  Blow to the West Bhutto's foundation of the PPP was a setback for the reactionary forces in a country long dominated by the Right. The slogan of "Food, Shelter and Clothing" shifted the focus of Pakistan politics from theological to economic issues. This focus has never shifted back. Bhutto nationalised the commanding heights of the economy; another blow to the capitalist West. During his tenure there was a massive transfer of resources towards the dominant rural economy by setting higher prices for agricultural products.
Bhutto's Talents As a member of Pakistan's delegation to the United Nation in 1957, at the age of 29 years, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressed the Sixth Conference of the United Nations on "The Definition of Aggression", a speech which is still regarded as one of the best on the subject. As a participant at the International Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in March, 1958 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto spoke for mankind with the bold declaration: "The High Seas are free to all." He was the youngest Federal Cabinet member in the history of Pakistan, at the age of 30. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto held the key portfolios of Minister of Commerce, Minister of Information, Minister of National Reconstruction, Minister of Fuel, Power and Natural Resources before becoming the Foreign Minister.


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