Remembering JFK on 50th Anniversary of Assassination in Dallas, Tx
After watching the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's welcome in Washington this week, one of my blog readers asked me the following question: "Has Any Pakistani leader ever received a warm Washington welcome like Modi's?"The answer is: Yes, President Ayub Khan of Pakistan received a much bigger and warmer welcome in America than Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week. Before I describe it, let me try and put things in perspective for my readers.
President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy receiving President Ayub KhanFormer Secretary of State Henry Kissinger of the United States has often been quoted as saying: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”Let's interpret Kissinger's quote to explain the crux of the shifting alliances since the end of the US-Soviet Cold War in early 1990s. The United States needed Pakistan to counter the Soviet influence in Asia until late 1980s. Today, America needs India to check the rise of China as a great superpower which is seen as challenging the United States as the sole superpower now.
Even as the Obama administration courts Modi, the top US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, are in Beijing for "Strategic and Economic Dialogue". It's an acknowledgment of the fact that the U.S. and China are the two largest economies in the world. American Treasury Secretary has described the US-China relationship as "the most important economic relationship in the world."
Meanwhile, Pakistan is drawing close to China to broaden its strategic relationship with stronger economic and military ties. Joint military programs like the JF-17 Thunder combat jet and the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are manifestations of it.
L to R: JFK, Nasim Aurangzeb, Jackie Kennedy & Ayub Khan at Mt Vernon
Now, let me describe in a little more detail Pakistani President Ayub Khan's 1961 visit to the United States. The fact is Modi's reception pales in comparison to what a Pakistani leader got during the Cold War.
The Pakistani President was extended the rare honor of being welcomed by the US President and the First Lady at the airport when the PIA airplane carrying him landed at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC.
He was also given the privilege of addressing a special Joint Session of the US Congress on Capitol Hill where he received standing ovation. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was the first Pakistani leader to address a session of US Congress back in 1950. Pakistani Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto also addressed a joint session of US Congress in 1989.
There was a state dinner in Ayub's honor hosted by President and Mrs. Kennedy at Mount Vernon, the historic residence of America's founding father and first president George Washington.
Later, he was hosted at a dinner by New York City mayor after he rode an open top car in a ticker-tape parade through the Big Apple with tens of thousands of New Yorkers lining the parade route and cheering him on.
Then President Ayub visited The Alamo in Texas where then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted him for a Texas style barbecue. Ayub Khan addressed joint houses of Texas legislature.
On his way back, the then UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden hosted a dinner in his honor before President Ayub returned to Pakistan.
The fact is Modi's reception pales in comparison with what the Pakistani leader was given during the Cold War.
Here's a video of President Ayub Khan's US visit:
When Ayub Met JFK
Post-Cold War Shifting Alliances
China-Pakistan Strategic Relationship
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
Modi's Pakistan Policy
Chimerica: China-US Relations
Will Chinese Yuan Replace US Dollar as Reserve Currency?
China-Pakistan Defense Ties Irk West