Strong US Ally
By Dr. Shahid Athar
On the 59th anniversary
of Independence of Pakistan on August 14th, I write
to congratulate the people and government of Pakistan
as well as Americans of Pakistani descent. Pakistan
is a close ally of USA for last 50 years and in
the words of Dr. Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary
of State in 1971 after his historic trip to China
with the help of Pakistan , "is a bridge which
should not be destroyed after crossing once"
Over the last 50 years, through defense and economic
ties the United States has given Pakistan billions
of dollars in economic and military assistance.
In return Pakistan has provided technical manpower,
become a market for US goods and an extension of
US foreign policy and war on terrorism in that region.
I remind those who have selective amnesia that in
1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan,
Pakistan became the first line of defense shattering
the Soviet dream of reaching the Indian Ocean. Pakistani
took nearly 3 million Afghan refugees fleeing Russian
occupation which put a great burden on its economy.
In the Gulf war, Pakistan joined the coalition against
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. When Somalia needed help,
Pakistan had sent 5000 troops before the US Marines
could arrive. When the US Marines handed control
of Mogadishu to the UN, it was again Pakistani troops
that took charge.
Even though none of the 19 hijackers of 9/11 tragedy
were Pakistanis, Pakistan willingly and actively
joined the US in its fight against terrorism as
it was the right thing to do. Pakistan has deployed
80,000 troops on the Pak-Afghan border to fight
the former Talibans and handed over hundreds of
terrorists to the US. Pakistan has cooperated with
Washington in every field and has allowed use of
Pakistan Air bases by the American Air force.
What we saw now in England on 7/7 or last week of
the alleged plot by young British citizens of Pakistani
descent had nothing to do with the Pakistani government
or the people of the country. It is the direct result
of anger of these people over the Iraq war and blind
support for the Israeli adventure in Lebanon. Both
terrorism and tyranny are bad and must be condemned
by those who wish for peace. As the late Indian
Prime Minister Nehru once said, "We should
live in peace and Let others live in peace."
(Shahid Athar, MD. 8424 Naab Rd, 2D, Indianapolis,
IN 46260 317-872-5159
Former Secretary, Pakistan Friendship Association