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Iraq–Pakistan relations refers to the foreign relations between the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Iraq has the unique distinction of being one of the first Arab countries to have diplomatically recognized Pakistan as a sovereign country in 1947.
Although both nations were part of the Central Treaty Organization led by the United States in the 1950s, the countries became hostile toward one another in the 1970s. Tensions persisted throughout the early 2000s, with the Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2003 Iraq War. Relations normalized in 2004, and Pakistan currently maintains an embassy in Baghdad while Iraq has an embassy in Islamabad. Pakistan was outspoken against the US invasion of Iraq. President Musharraf, the president of Pakistan at the time of the invasion, warned the United States that conflict with a 'brotherly' nation like Iraq would be treated as action against Pakistan. However, shortly after, Pakistan developed internal problems of its own. President Musharraf was removed from the presidency and a state of emergency in Pakistan was declared.
History of Foreign relations
Iraq was one of the few Arab countries to have diplomatically established relations with Pakistan in 1947. In the 1950s, the diplomatic problems began to mount when Iraq provided weapons and ammunition to Baloch separatist against the Iranian Government, which also caused disturbances in Pakistan. In 1955, Pakistan and Iraq joined the CENTO military alliance led by the United States to oppose the Soviet Union. Iraq withdrew from CENTO in 1959, following the overthrow of the monarchy.
Diplomatic rift and tensions
There were two incidents that led to the deterioration of relations between the two countries in the 1970s. It was before the 1971 OIC summit in Lahore that Iraq's relations subsequently reached a low ebb with Pakistan. Iraq was also the first Arab country to have recognized Bangladesh in 1972 only after East-Germany. Iraqi President Hassan al-Bakr financially and militarily supported the Baloch rebels during the internal rebellion in Balochistan, Pakistan. This lead to the souring of relations between the two countries.
The support continued until 1973 when the Military Intelligence (MI) successfully convinced one Baloch leader to defect to Pakistan. On 10 February 1973, the Punjab Rangers and the police raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad without prior official warning to the Iraqi government. This tactical operation revealed a large cache of small arms, ammunition and hand grenades. Other weapon supplies were found in crates marked "Foreign Ministry, Baghdad" and these were believed to be destined for Pakistani Baloch rebels. Pakistan responded by expelling and declaring persona non grata Iraqi Ambassador Hikmat Sulaiman and other consular staff. In a letter written to President Richard Nixon on 14 February 1973, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Bhutto blamed India and Afghanistan, besides Iraq and the Soviet Union, for involvement in a "conspiracy ...[with] subversive and irredentist elements which seek to disrupt Pakistan's integrity."
A successful military operation led to an ultimate dismantling of Baloch rebels in the province. In the 1980s, the Martial Law Administrator of Balochistan, General Rahimuddin Khan's policies stabilized the province. During the height of the Iran-Iraq war, President Saddam Hussein tried to work with the Baloch rebels to divert Iran's focus to Pakistan but this was ultimately unsuccessful. In the wake of Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed in 1981 in the Middle East. Most of the military instructors were from the Pakistan Armed Forces, around ~40,000 military personnel of Pakistan Armed Forces were stationed in Saudi Arabia to reinforce the internal and external security of the country. The Iran-Iraq war was a polarizing issue in Pakistan, with half of its population now under threat from its own Shiite population and from revolutionary Iran. President Zia managed Pakistan's security efficiently knowing the fact that since Pakistan was closer to United States, the country would be dragged into a war against a friendly neighbour at the behest of the United States. The high-ranking members of Pakistan Armed Forces strongly objected the killing of Shiite pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. Zia did not issue any orders to Pakistan Armed Forces-Arab Contingent Forces, to engage any country militarily.
Despite the United States urging, the Iran-Iraq war provided Zia with an opportunity to deal with Iran. Many stinger missiles shipped for Afghan mujahideen were sold to Iran which proved to be a defining factor for Iran in the Tanker war.
Gulf War and sanctions
In 1991, Iraq invaded Kuwait due to political tensions between the two Arab countries. Pakistan fully endorsed the United States-led military campaign against Iraq, with chief of army staff General Aslam Beg and Chairman Joint Chiefs Admiral Iftikhar Sirohey overseeing the deployment of the Pakistan Armed Forces Middle East Contingent forces.
Ironically, General Beg accused the Western countries for encouraging Iraq to invade Kuwait, though he kept his armed forces fighting against Iraq as a support to Saudi Arabia. The Iraq war with Kuwait was a polarizing political issue in Pakistan and Beg carefully commanded and deployed the Pakistan Armed Forces' contingent forces during the Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
After the 1991 Gulf war Iraq began building closer relations with India after having considered it as one of its closest allies.It then became a major oil supplier to India. Iraq had supported India's right to develop its nuclear program following its tests of five nuclear weapons on May 11 and May 13, 1998. In 1999, the relations soured when Iraq and India began to work towards a stronger relationship. In 2000, the then-Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan visited India, and on 6 August 2002, President Saddam Hussein conveyed Iraq's "unwavering support" to India over the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan. India and Iraq established joint ministerial committees and trade delegations to promote extensive bilateral co-operation.
Normalization of relations
In 2003, prior to the outbreak of the second Gulf War, the Government of Pakistan announced it was opposed to any military action against Iraq. Pakistan was under tremendous public pressure to vote against the war although some had been considering a vote for the war. After the war ended however Pakistan had indicated that it was willing to send its Middle East military contingent forces to Iraq for peacekeeping if the Iraqi people wished so.
As early as 2003, the United States and the United Kingdom made many calls for the deployment of the Pakistan military's contingent forces for peacekeeping operations in Iraq. The Pakistan military officials countered that: "Given the uprising against the US-led coalition forces in Iraq and the internal anarchy there, sending our troops at this time would be like jumping into fire." Relations remains intense over the issue of foreign hostages in Iraq. In 2004–05, 14 Pakistani citizens were made hostages of which two hostages were killed by their captors in Iraq.
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