Myth or Reality
Pakistan is paying the price for trying to be a real sovereign state.
The history of American interventions and regime change pursuits in various countries is too well established, yet a recapitulation is necessitated in view of the current political impasse in Pakistan due to an unprecedented fight back by the elected Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Since the 19th century, the United States has participated and interfered, both overtly and covertly, in the replacement of several foreign governments. In the latter half of the 19th century, the U.S. government initiated actions for regime change mainly in Latin America and the southwest Pacific, including the Spanish–American and Philippine–American wars. At the onset of the 20th century, the United States shaped or installed governments in many countries around the world, including neighbours Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
During World War II, the United States helped overthrow many Nazi German or Imperial Japanese regimes. Examples include regimes in the Philippines, Korea, the Eastern portion of China, and much of Europe. United States forces were also instrumental in ending the rule of Adolf Hitler over Germany and of Benito Mussolini over Italy. In the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. government struggled with the Soviet Union for global leadership, influence and security within the context of the Cold War.
Under the Eisenhower administration, the U.S. government feared that national security would be compromised by governments propped by the Soviet Union’s own involvement in regime change and promoted the domino theory, with later presidents following Eisenhower’s precedent.
Subsequently, the United States expanded the geographic scope of its actions beyond the traditional area of operations, Central America and the Caribbean. Significant operations included the United States and United Kingdom-orchestrated 1953 Iranian coup d’état, the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion targeting Cuba, and support for the overthrow of Sukarno by General Suharto in Indonesia.
In addition, the U.S. has interfered in the national elections of countries, including Italy in 1948, the Philippines in 1953, and Japan in the 1950s and 1960s as well as Lebanon in 1957. According to one study, the U.S. performed at least 81 overt and covert known interventions in foreign elections during the period 1946–2000. Another study found that the U.S. engaged in 64 covert and six overt attempts at regime change during the Cold War.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States has led or supported wars to determine the governance of a number of countries. The stated U.S. aims in these conflicts have included fighting the War on Terror, as in the Afghan War with forced involvement of Pakistan, or removing self-declared dictatorial and hostile regimes on flimsy grounds, as in the Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Syrian wars.
Speaking specifically about Pakistan, the intrigues that commenced with the assassination of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali khan on October 16, 1951 fast forwarded to murder of yet another Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007 at the same venue in Rawalpindi. Sadly, state inquiries of both cases were kept in wraps and justice remained wanting. The removal of President Ayub Khan through a coloured revolution of its own time in 1969 after his book addressed to the American “Friends not Masters”, soon resulted in loss of East Pakistan in December 1971 and rise of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as prime minister. However, Bhutto also met an unfortunate end in 1977 for pursuing the Pakistan nuclear programme, holding an OIC Summit in Pakistan and on charges of murdering his political opponents. His successor President General Zia-ul-Haq was also killed in a mysterious air crash in 1988 for becoming too strong to unify the OIC and pushing up Pakistan’s nuclear programme in defiance to the West. President General Pervez Musharraf was also removed from the political scene as soon as he was considered unable to deliver on the ever expanding Western ‘do more’ list.