Iraq–Pakistan relations

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Pakistani-Iraqi relations



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 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 Iraq War. Relations normalized in 2004, and Pakistan currently maintains an embassy in Baghdad while Iraq has an embassy in Islamabad. Pakistan was an outspoken critic of 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[edit]


After diplomatically establishing relations with each other in 1947, Iraq and Pakistan's diplomatic problems began to mount in the 1950s. Iraq provided weapons and ammunition to Baloch separatists against the Iranian Government, causing disturbances in Pakistan. In 1955, Pakistan and Iraq joined the CENTO to oppose the Soviet Union. Yet, Iraq withdrew from CENTO in 1959, following the overthrow of the monarchy.

Diplomatic rift and tensions[edit]

Relations between the two countries deteriorated even further in the 1970s, beginning with the 1971 OIC summit in Lahore. Iraq was also the first Arab country to have recognized Bangladesh in 1972 only after East Germany.[1] Iraqi President Hassan al-Bakr financially and militarily supported the Baloch rebels during the internal rebellion in Balochistan, Pakistan. The support continued until 1973 when Pakistan's Military Intelligence (MI) successfully convinced one Baloch leader to defect to Pakistan. On 10 February 1973, the Punjab Rangers and the Capital Territory Police raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad without warning 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, Pakistan's Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto blamed India and Afghanistan, as well as Iraq and the Soviet Union, for involvement in a "conspiracy ...[with] subversive and irredentist elements which seek to disrupt Pakistan's integrity."[1]

A successful military operation led to an ultimate dismantling of Baloch rebels in the province.[2] In the 1980s, the Martial Law Administrator of Balochistan, General Rahimuddin Khan, enacted policies that stabilized the province.[2] In the wake of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed in 1981 in the Middle East.[3] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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 that since Pakistan was closer to United States, the country would be dragged into a war against a friendly neighbor. The high-ranking members of Pakistan Armed Forces strongly objected to 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.[3]

The Iran-Iraq war provided Zia with an opportunity to deal with Iran.[3] Many stinger missiles shipped for Afghan mujahideen were sold to Iran which proved to be a defining factor for Iran in the Tanker war.[3]

Gulf War and sanctions[edit]

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.[4]

Ironically, General Beg accused Western countries of encouraging Iraq to invade Kuwait, though he continued to lead his armed forces against Iraq to support Saudi Arabia.[5][6][7] As Iraq's war with Kuwait divided Pakistanis, Beg carefully commanded and deployed the Pakistan Armed Forces' contingent forces during the Operation Desert Storm.[4][6][8]

After the 1991 Gulf war, Iraq began building closer relations with India after having considered it one of its closest allies. It then became a major oil supplier to India.[9] 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.[10] In 1999, their partnership crumbled 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.[10][11] India and Iraq established joint ministerial committees and trade delegations to promote extensive bilateral co-operation.[12][13]

Normalization of relations[edit]

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.[14] Pakistan was under tremendous public pressure to vote against the war, although some had considered voting for the war.[15] However, after the war ended, Pakistan had indicated that it was willing to send its Middle East military contingent forces to Iraq for peacekeeping if the Iraqi people wanted them to do so.[16]

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.[17] The Pakistani 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."[17] Tensions between the two countries remained 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.[18][19] Nonetheless, the relations were normalized following the United States troops withdrawal from Iraq. In 2013, both countries signed a defence pact.[20][21]

Iraq's ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Rushdi Al-Ani claimed that Iraq considers Pakistan a Muslim super power and that Iraq was willing to supply Pakistan with oil unconditionally.[22]

In 2014 Iraq purchased the Super Mushak trainer aircraft from Pakistan as part of improving defense relations between the two countries.[23]


  1. ^ a b Shahid Saeed (3 April 2011). "Caught! (But what?): Follows the mystery of the arms cache that was discovered in the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad in 1973". Friday Times. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Mylroie, Laurie (2001). Study of revenge : the first World Trade Center attack and Saddam Hussein's war against America (Rev. ed. ed.). Washington, D.C.: AEI Press. ISBN 0-8447-4169-8. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Shah, Mehtab Ali (1997). The foreign policy of Pakistan : ethnic impacts on diplomacy, 1971-1994. London [u.a.]: Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-169-5. 
  4. ^ a b Singh, R.S.N. (2008). "Nawaz Sharif and Military". The military factor in Pakistan. New Delhi: Frankfort, IL. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-9815378-9-8. 
  5. ^ Hiro, Dilip (2003). Desert shield to desert storm : the second Gulf war. New York: Authors Choice Press. ISBN 0-595-26904-4. 
  6. ^ a b Ghareeb, Majid Khadduri, Edmund (2001). War in the Gulf, 1990-91 : the Iraq-Kuwait conflict and its implications. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press, Ghareeb. ISBN 0-19-514979-3. 
  7. ^ Petre, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, written with Peter (1993). It doesn't take a hero : the autobiography (Bantam paperback ed. ed.). New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-56338-6. 
  8. ^ Crossette, Barbara (: August 14, 1990). "CONFRONTATION IN THE GULF; Pakistanis Agree to Join Defense of Saudi Arabia". NYTime, 1990. Retrieved 26 March 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Schaffer, Teresita C. (2009). India and the United States in the 21st century : reinventing partnership. Washington, D.C.: CSIS Press. ISBN 0892065729. 
  10. ^ a b US-Iraq War: India's Middle East policy
  11. ^ India, Iraq Agree on Co-operation
  12. ^ Iraq prizes ties with India: Saddam
  13. ^ Iraq Economic and Commercial Relations
  14. ^ Pakistan opposes Iraq war - BBC News
  15. ^ Pakistan's key Iraq decision - BBC News
  16. ^ Pakistan willing to send Iraq troops - BBC News
  17. ^ a b Qudssia Akhlaque (July 9, 2003). "Pakistan to wait for appropriate time: Troops for Iraq". Dawn Area studies. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Sinan, Omar (July 29, 2004). "Pakistani hostages killed by militants". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  20. ^ APP (Friday, 18-November-2011). "Pakistan to improve relations with Iraq: Khar". Gazette. Retrieved 10 August 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  21. ^ APP (March 25, 2013). "Pakistan, Iraq to sign defence cooperation pact". The Nation. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
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