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Eternal Triangles

Arun Sahgal

By Nirode Mohanty
Macmillan, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 241, price not stated.


Nirode Mohanty’s book forms part of many current writings on the American-Pakistani relationship, a relationship which is under critical scrutiny as the United States begins to draw down from Afghanistan, calling in question its post-withdrawal relationship. It needs to be underscored that the entire contour of the relationship over the last six decades has been highly transactional in nature marked by divergent strategic interests.   Pakistani perspective post Independence was shaped by dealing with rival India and to develop capabilities and capacities that will reduce the power differential with a bigger and stronger India. Single-minded search for parity and strategic depth have driven the political and military elites to leverage their relative strategic position to garner economic and military concessions for allowing its territory to be used for the furtherance of American strategic interests, be it the Cold War or fight against terrorism.   What should be of interest to both the lay reader and strategic affairs analyst is the manner in which Pakistan has never compromised its own core interests even when being forced to be a pawn in the ‘Great Game’. However, this relationship of conve-nience has never forsaken its Muslim identity which as the book attempts to argue led it to support radical and extremist ideologies to an extent that today it finds the same forces eating into the vitals of the nation and raising the spectre of state failure.   The book highlights the context of American-Pakistan relationship which strained, disenchanted and at times even intimate, has always been driven by the dictum of necessity, even as the Americans were fully aware of Pakistan being an unstable state, caught in radicalism and militarism. During the Cold War it was the logic of fighting Soviet expansionism as part of the Great Game that brought the two countries together resulting in Pakistan becoming part of SEATO and CENTO as well as creating the mujahedeen army with American weapons and financial support, to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Not only this; the Reagan Administration repeatedly denied any knowledge of Pakistan’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons in order to provide critical military support including F-16’s all for its continued support to defeat Soviet forces in Afghanistan. From Pakistan’s perspective an influence over Afghanistan was to support its notion of strategic depth as indeed its support to ‘Kashmiri Muslims’.   Post-2001, the relationship has been based on the US war on ...

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