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Liaquat Ali Khan`s visit

December 02, 2008


I write with reference to Mr. Umar Makhdumi's letter November 28 in its turn quoting Mr. Hamid Ali Qureshi's letter of November 23 on this much-misunderstood subject.

In addition to the learned accounts by Ambassador Shahid Amin and author Muhammad Reza Kazmi, I should like to refer the readers of Dawn to the relevant chapter, aptly entitled “The Visit that Never Was”, in the book “Foreign Policy of Pakistan Reflections of an Ambassador” by my father, Ambassador Sajjad Hyder.

It explains lucidly how “there was a change of heart on the Soviet side” by August 1949, and that by October 1949 it was clear that “yet another party had intervened in the matter of Liaquat Ali Khan's visit to Moscow”.

In addition I would like to add that, before between and beyond seminal events such as Pakistan's joining SEATO/ CENTO, Gen. Ayub Khan's visit to Moscow and the signing of the Tashkent Indo-Pak Declaration, it is our envoys that bear the brunt of difficult bilateral relations and deserve the credit — rarely given — for harmonizing this pivotal relationship.

Pakistan has fielded a host of most distinguished Ambassadors to Moscow, including Mr. Akhtar Hussain, Mr. Jamshed Marker, Mian Arshad Hussain, Mr. S.K. Dehlavi, Mr. Sajjad Hyder and Sahibzada Yakub-Khan. To each — plus those before and after them, belong their individual achievements in this most crucial of geo-political axes. In my father's case, he succeeded in most ably negotiating the continuation of the Steel Mills complex — in mid 1970's our largest industrial unit as rightly noted by Mr. Makhdumi; but failed in his utmost and eloquent efforts from 1978 to deter Islamabad from entering the Afghan abyss, to the lasting detriment of our country.