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 Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
US-Pakistan: A complicated relationship
General Musharraf and George Bush
President Bush has put Pakistan's leader under pressure

As far as Washington is concerned the tension between India and Pakistan is an unwelcome distraction from its war against terrorism.

The US is deploying some of its most senior diplomats to try to avoid yet another India-Pakistan war.
US Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage is currently visiting the region

The current round of shuttle diplomacy by the US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will be followed next week by a visit to Islamabad and Delhi by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

For decades Pakistan has tried to focus international attention on the Kashmir dispute.

Kashmir is at last engaging the interest of the big powers.

But Pakistan still feels frustrated.

Officials in Islamabad complain that while the US is now paying attention to the Kashmir dispute, it is doing so in a way that favours India.

President George W Bush has repeatedly called upon General Musharraf to honour his promise to end Pakistan's support for the militants in Kashmir.

Pakistan, though, fears that if it does so on a permanent basis the anti-Indian insurgency in Kashmir will wither away and that there will be no pressure on Delhi to enter into a serious dialogue about Kashmir's future.

Washington's 'mood swings'

For many Pakistanis the perceived US tilt to India is yet another example of Washington's unreliability.

US-Pakistani relations have always been subject to extreme mood swings. In the 1950s Pakistan's first military ruler, Field Marshal General Ayub Khan, described his country as America's "most allied ally".
Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld is due to visit India and Pakistan next week

While Delhi tended to look towards Moscow during the Cold War, Pakistan backed the US. In return Washington provided sustained backing for the Pakistan armed forces.

Again in the 1980s the US needed Islamabad's support. It pumped billions of dollars into Pakistan to fund the campaign against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

But these periods of harmonious relations have often been followed by sharp disagreements between Islamabad and Washington.

Since 11 September the pattern has been repeated.

Within hours of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, General Musharraf offered the US his support in the war against the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

In doing so he reversed years of Pakistani policy that had consistently backed the Taleban regime.

Relations 'turning sour'

President Bush responded with promises of aid, trade and a new era in US-Pakistani co-operation.
We expected we would be abandoned once again - but we never imagined it would happen so soon

Pakistani diplomat

But US-Pakistani relations have soured recently.

Increasingly, Washington has defined the Pakistan-based militants in Kashmir as terrorists.

The US is now telling Islamabad that it must agree to India's demand that the insurgency in Kashmir be scaled back.

Pakistani officials complain that their support for the US at a time of crisis has not been reciprocated. As one Pakistani diplomat has put it: "We expected we would be abandoned once again - but we never imagined it would happen so soon."

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See also:

05 Jun 02 | Politics
05 Jun 02 | South Asia
04 Jun 02 | Media reports
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
02 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
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