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Flag of Pakistan
9.27.03
Politics and Economy:
The U.S. and Pakistan
More on This Story:
Timeline

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have had an up and down history since Pakistan was founded in 1947. The U.S. has suspended aid to the country numerous times from 1965 through 1999 over issues of regional conflict with India over Kashmir, democracy concerns, nuclear weapons and security issues.

Pakistan has also been viewed as a crucial ally during the past fifty years and received nearly $12 billion in aid between 1947 and 2000. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan took on the role of front line ally in one of the final encounters of the Cold War. After the terror attacks of September 11, Pakistan was quickly numbered among the very most important partners in the War on Terror. The U.S. Congress allowed President Bush to waive the standing prohibition on aiding governments installed by coup through 2003. This exemption is expected to be extended through 2005. In addition, Pakistan received over $1.5 billion in U.S. aid in 2002 and 2003. In June 2003, President Bush announced he would back a $3 billion aid package for Pakistan for 2005.

A number of issues still trouble U.S. relations with Pakistan — human rights, narcotics, missile and nuclear proliferation. Most troubling to some analysts are continuing questions about Pakistan's relationship with terror networks. In August 2003, six members of Congress, led by Senator John McCain, traveled to Pakistan on a fact-finding mission. On September 26, 2003, NOW’s David Brancaccio talks to Bernard-Henri Lévy, French philosopher and author, who has spent a great deal of time in Pakistan to research his most recent book, WHO KILLED DANIEL PEARL? Earlier this year, NOW spoke with NEW YORKER journalist Seymour Hersh about the Pakistani intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligent, (ISI), and the War on Terror.

Below is a brief timeline of Pakistani - U.S. relations and links to help you learn more.

1906Muslim League founded as forum for Indian Muslim separatism.
1940Muslim League endorses idea of separate nation for India's Muslims.
1947Muslim state of East and West Pakistan created out of partition of India at the end of British rule. Hundreds of thousands are killed and millions left homeless on all sides of the conflict.
1948War with India over disputed territory of Kashmir. Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the first governor general of Pakistan, dies.
1951 Jinnah's successor Liaquat Ali Khan is assassinated and military rule is established.
1954Amid concerns about Soviet expansion, the U.S. and Pakistan sign a mutual defense agreement. Military aid to Pakistan between 1953 and 1961 totals $508 million.
1955 Pakistan joins the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organization (CTO).
1956 Constitution proclaims Pakistan an Islamic republic.
1958Martial law declared and General Ayyub Khan takes over.
1958U.S. and Pakistan sign a cooperation agreement.
1960 General Ayyub Khan becomes president.
1965Second war with India over Kashmir. The U.S. cuts off aid to both nations.
1969General Ayyub Khan resigns and General Yahya Khan takes over.
1971 The U.S. again suspends military aid to Pakistan because of Indian-Pakistani conflict. East Pakistan attempts to secede, leading to civil war. India intervenes in support of East Pakistan which eventually breaks away to become Bangladesh.
1972Simla peace agreement with India sets new border in Kashmir.
1973Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto becomes prime minister.
1975U.S. resumes limited financial aid to Pakistan.
1977 Allegations of vote-rigging by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) lead to widespread rioting. General Zia ul-Haq stages military coup. Bhutto is hanged in 1979.
1978 General Zia becomes president.
1979 U.S. suspends military aid after Pakistan constructs a uranium enrichment facility.
1980U.S. pledges military assistance to Pakistan following Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
1981U.S. offers Pakistan a $3.2 billion, five-year economic and military aid package.
1985 Martial law and political parties ban lifted.
A section of the Foreign Assistance Act known as the Pressler Amendment requires the President to certify to Congress that Pakistan does not possess nuclear weapons.
1988 General Zia, the US ambassador and top Pakistan army officials die in mysterious air crash.
1988Benazir Bhutto, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's daughter, and her PPP party wins general election.
1990Benazir Bhutto dismissed as prime minister on charges of incompetence and corruption.
U.S military aid is again suspended under the provisions of the Pressler Amendment.
1991 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif begins economic liberalization program.
Islamic Shariah law is formally incorporated into legal code.
1992 U.S. relaxes sanctions on Pakistan to allow food and economic assistance to non-governmental organizations.
1993President Khan and Prime Minister Sharif both resign under pressure from military. General election brings Benazir Bhutto back to power.
1996Bhutto government falls again due to corruption allegations.
1998 Pakistan conducts its own nuclear tests after India explodes several devices.
U.S. sends Pakistan $140 in economic and agricultural aid but the U.S. imposes full restrictions on all non-humanitarian aid because of continuing nuclear tests. The Clinton administration sets up five nonproliferation benchmarks for Pakistan, including halting nuclear testing, signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and restricting all exportation of nuclear technology and materials.
1999Conflict with India over Kashmir heats up again.

Benazir Bhutto and her husband convicted of corruption and given jail sentences.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif overthrown in military coup led by General Pervez Musharraf. U.S. sanctions limited aid to countries under coup governments come into effect.
2000Nawaz Sharif sentenced to life imprisonment on hijacking and terrorism charges. Sharif goes into exile in Saudi Arabia.
2001General Pervez Musharraf names himself president while remaining head of the army. Parliament is dissolved.
After the attacks of September 11, the U.S. lifts some sanctions placed on Pakistan after the nuclear tests of 1998 and the coup of 1999. Large amounts of aid begin to flow to Pakistan. Congress grants the president special waivers to coup-related sanctions on Pakistan through 2003.
Late in the year, tensions grow between India and Pakistan again over Kashmir.
2002Musharraf wins another five years in office in a referendum widely questioned by outside observers.
Pakistan test fires three missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Under a "Legal Framework Order," President Musharraf grants himself sweeping new powers, including the right to dismiss the National Assembly and the ability to appoint the chief of the army and provincial governors.
First general election since the 1999 military coup results no clear majority for any party. A coalition of six Islamist parties wins 20 percent of the seats.
Pakistan receives $1.5 billion in U.S. aid for FY2002 and FY2003.
General Musharraf announces a crackdown on terrorism. High-profile arrests include Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Khallid Mohammed.
American journalist Daniel Pearl is kidnapped and killed in January. In March a bomb in a Protestant church kills five in Islamabad, including a U.S. Embassy employee.
The U.S. State Department publishes report labeling Pakistan's human rights record as "poor."
2003Senate elections: Ruling party wins most seats in voting to the upper house.
President Bush announces a 5-year, $3 billion package for Pakistan.
Responding to continuing questions about terrorism a Congressional fact-finding mission travels to Pakistan.
Secretary of State Powell announces the sale of six C130 military transport aircraft to Pakistan.
Legislation to both extend and to end the waiver of coup-related sanctions is presented to Congress.

For more extensive information on Pakistan and U.S. relations with that nation please see:

Sources: BCC Country Profiles; Congressional Research Service, "Pakistan-U.S. Relations," September 3, 2003; Library of Congress: Country Study Pakistan



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