US Politics of Betrayal: The Urdu Press on Pakistan-US Relations since the 1971 War

Akhtar, Shakil (2016) US Politics of Betrayal: The Urdu Press on Pakistan-US Relations since the 1971 War. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This research examines the history and structure of the Urdu press discourse on Pakistan-US relations since the 1971 War in order to understand its perceptions of US betrayal. Two of the most popular Urdu newspapers in Pakistan have been studied with reference to three alleged cases of US betrayal. These are: the US failure in the 1971 War to provide sufficient military support to Pakistan to prevent its disintegration; US opposition to Pakistan's nuclear program and ignoring of the security concerns of its ally in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; and the unilateral US operation conducted on 2 May 2011 targeting Osama bin Laden which violated Pakistan’s sovereignty. The Urdu press has not only been identifying examples of US betrayal of Pakistan since the 1971 War, but also has developed a structure for that discourse. The dominant voices of the discourse generally argue that the US not only betrays but also conspires against Pakistan's security. The discourse offers certain modalities of US conspiracy, such as pressurising tactics like sanctions and attaching conditions onto economic and military aid to Pakistan, or interfering in Pakistan's domestic affairs through diplomatic or undiplomatic means. Further, US conspiracy and betrayal is also rationalised by mainly offering three types of causes. First, it is argued that the US betrays Pakistan in order to pursue its own strategic interests in South Asia. Second, it is argued that the US is a hegemonic, capitalistic force, which conspires against Pakistan in collaboration with the Pakistani ruling elite and betrays it in order to protect its own material interests. Third, it is argued that the US is an anti-Islamic force, which conspires against and repeatedly betrays a Muslim country. Interviews with some of the prominent journalists and politicians conducted for this research also identified some excluded voices within Pakistan which did not agree with this discourse of a US politics of betrayal. Thus, this study analyses the history of the Urdu press discourse which contributes to the social construction of the idea of a US politics of betrayal, but in so doing, it also builds understanding of its structure, and helps to rationalise the perception of a US politics of betrayal since the 1971 War.

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