By Bruce Riedel

Sixty years in the past, on July 11, 1961, a unprecedented state go to occurred at Mount Vernon, the house of America’s first president, George Washington. It was a summit assembly that also reverberates right this moment.

It was First Woman Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy who conceived of the summit at Mount Vernon between her husband John F. Kennedy and Pakistani President Mohammad Ayub Khan. She was impressed by the Kennedys’ go to to the Habsburgs’ Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna earlier within the 12 months. She quietly approached the managers of the Mount Vernon property, who eagerly agreed to host the Pakistanis. She additionally organized for the jewellery retailer Tiffany’s to supply the flowers and decorations for the dinner.

Pakistan was an essential accomplice for the USA in 1961, linked by treaty to the containment of the Soviet Union and China. The Central Intelligence Company (CIA) flew U2 surveillance flights from Pakistani bases to watch China’s rising nuclear arsenal. The CIA additionally secretly supported Tibetan rebels combating for independence from an airbase in what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Ayub Khan had simply suspended Pakistani cooperation with the Tibet covert operation as a result of Kennedy had promised India a big financial help package deal and signaled {that a} nearer relationship with New Delhi was coming. The Pakistani dictator was in opposition to a more in-depth American relationship with India. Shutting down the Tibet operation was a quiet behind the scenes means of expressing unease with Kennedy’s tilting in the direction of India.

On the request of Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, JFK took Ayub Khan for a non-public one-on-one stroll within the mansion backyard and requested the Pakistani chief to reopen the airbase for secret resupply flights to the rebels in Tibet. Ayub Khan agreed however requested for a dedication that no American army gear would ever be offered to India with out prior session with Pakistan. Kennedy agreed.

The dinner was an excellent success. The most effective and brightest of the brand new administration had been there. The primary course was poulet chasseur made within the White Home after which reheated in a transportable military kitchen within the grounds of the mansion.

The following spring Mrs. Kennedy traveled to India and Pakistan. It was the primary journey overseas alone by a primary woman within the tv age. She dazzled viewers all over the place, together with again house.

In October 1962, on the top of the Cuban missile disaster, China invaded India. As I’ve written in my ebook “JFK’s Forgotten Disaster: Tibet, the CIA, and the Sino-Indian Battle,” Kennedy managed two large and harmful crises on reverse sides of the globe. The Indians appealed for American weapons, Kennedy ignored his promise to Ayub Khan, and an enormous provide of arms flowed into India. Furthermore, Kennedy made it clear that the USA wouldn’t tolerate Pakistani makes an attempt to reap the benefits of India’s predicament in disputed Kashmir. The president was aided in dealing with the perilous disaster by his private rapport with Ayub Khan created at Mount Vernon.

On the peak of disaster, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru requested Kennedy for American fighters, bombers, and their crews to affix the combat in opposition to the Chinese language. It was a momentous request. The USA would take part a warfare with China. Earlier than Kennedy needed to reply, the Chinese language introduced a unilateral cease-fire.

The 1962 disaster set in practice the dynamics that will lead many years later to the geopolitics of right this moment with the USA aligned with India and Pakistan aligned with China. It helped spark the nuclear arms race in Asia. The disaster resonates all through Asia right this moment.

At this time Pakistan is the fifth most populous nation on the earth, with one of the lively nuclear weapons applications. It’s China’s closest and most essential ally. Relations with India stay tense. Most instantly, Pakistan is supporting the Taliban offensive designed to topple the Afghan authorities in Kabul after the American withdrawal, although it publicly says it needs a political answer, not a Taliban army victory. The Pakistani military provides the Taliban secure haven, arms, coaching, and logistical help that are essential to their means to function.

President Joe Biden has but to speak to Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as since taking workplace. Imran Khan has lately spoken publicly about Islamabad’s shut ties to Beijing, praising it as a job mannequin and defending its oppression of its Uyghur Muslims. Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin has spoken with Pakistan’s Chief of the Military Employees Common Qamar Javed Bajwa greater than as soon as however has but to fulfill with him in individual. For the Afghan withdrawal, it’s most likely too late to alter Pakistan’s coverage to again the Taliban. The puzzle is why the administration will not be partaking extra actively with this essential nation.

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