Liaquat Ali Khan's state visit to the United States

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Liaquat Ali Khan and First Lady Sheila Irene Pant are welcomed at New Orleans Airport. Garlands of flowers presented by the American public greet Prime Minister Ali Khan and his wife.

The state visit of Liaquat Ali Khan to the United States from 3 May to 26 May 1950, was an official state visit paid by the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, accompanied by the First Lady of Pakistan, Sheila Irene Pant.

Personal initiatives and invitation facilitated by the President of the United States, Harry Truman, Prime Minister of Pakistan Ali Khan and First Lady of Pakistan Begum Ali Khan, were received by the general American public when the state airlines carrying the delegation landed at the New Orleans Airport, New Orleans, Louisiana.[1] Upon Prime Minister Ali Khan's arrival, there was an official parade in the New York City in his honour, he was also conferred with an honorary degree by the Columbia University. During his visit, he also spoke at the House of Representatives, the lower house of the United States Congress.[2]

At home front, Prime Minister Ali Khan's trip to the United States was highly politicised and criticised by the left–wing sphere who levelled its charges on ignoring the Soviet Union's invitation in favour of the United States.[3] Upon returning to Pakistan, Ali Khan spoke highly of his visit to the US but survived a conspiracy hatched by the left–wing sphere in 1951. According to the English newspaper, Dawn, Ali Khan's state visit and further reliance towards the United States became a permanent fixture of the foreign policy of Pakistan during the Cold War.[4]


Prime minister Ali Khan shakes hands with President Harry Truman, upon his arrival.

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the United States was one of the first countries to recognise the new State of Pakistan as US Department of State had rushed the US Consul-General in Morocco to Karachi to represent the US government in the Pakistan's Independence Day ceremony on 14 August 1947 with a message of warm greetings and good wishes from the White House.[1]

The independence of Pakistan in 1947 oversaw the first war over Kashmir region.[1] During the war, Founder of Pakistan and Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah unsuccessfully asked the United States for $2 billion in military and financial aid but the US followed a policy of neutrality, rebuffing any requests made by Pakistan's government.[5] During this time, Pakistan's relations with the USSR remained to be fluctuated. In 1949, Indian Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru paid the state visit to the United States, which eventually led Pakistan's government to cement relations with the Soviet Union.[5] Finally on 3 June 1949, Soviet Union sent an invitation to Prime Minister Ali Khan which came as a surprise to the United States.[5] With India's strict commitment towards the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) influenced the United States to send an invitation to Ali Khan in 1950.[5]

Visit and aftermath[edit]

President Truman accompanies Prime Minister Ali Khan in Washington D.C.

In a reference written by Kalim Bahadur in his book Democracy in Pakistan: Crises and Conflicts, Prime Minister Ali Khan quickly accepted the invitation and postponed his visit to Moscow.[5] On 3 May 1950, Prime Minister Ali Khan, the First Lady of Pakistan, Begum Ali Khan and the large civic-military delegation arrived to the United States via United Kingdom and their official flight landed at the New Orleans Airport, New Orleans, Louisiana.[6] Prime Minister Ali Khan was met with honour and received a warm welcome from the general American public; he was personally received by the President of the United States, Harry Truman. Upon reaching New York City, President Truman organised a parade and accorded the red-carpet treatment to welcome Ali Khan and his family.[7]

Ali Khan gave a lecture on political science at Columbia University, which conferred him with an honorary degree. Thereafter, he also engaged and spoke to the US House of Representatives. Speaking at the United States Congress session, Ali Khan highlighted the importance of Pakistan's geostrategic location, and the visit set the course of Pakistan's foreign policy: close ties with the United States and co-operation against a perceived threat from the USSR. Upon returning to Pakistan, he strongly defended his trip to the United States in a broadcast from Radio Pakistan on 30 June:

This visit not only enabled me to see the American people and their wonderful country but also gave me an occasion to inform the inhabitants of that country about the birth of Pakistan, its short but eventful history and the Islamic way of life adopted as an ideal by the people of my country

— Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, 1950, source[1]

Criticism and politicisation[edit]

At home front, Prime Minister Ali Khan was highly politicised and criticised by the left-wing sphere who charged him with ignoring the Soviet Union's initiation. However, Ali Khan counter-argued that the USSR had slowly extended the invitation and "were unable to fix a date to pay a state visit." Ali Khan's state visit and alignment towards the United States became a pivot in Pakistan's foreign policy during the Cold War. After the assassination of Ali Khan, the relations with the USSR soured until 1965 when the relations improved to such an extent that USSR sponsored the Tashkent Agreement between India and Pakistan.

In 1972, due to Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's rapprochement, visit led to normalise the relation after providing a help to finance the founding of Pakistan's largest industrial complex: Pakistan Steel Mills. In a critical assessment opinion written in English newspaper Dawn, Liaquat Ali Khan is chiefly responsible for throwing Pakistan into the US camp.

Media gallery[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Aziz, Qutubuddin. "Special Edition: Quaid-i-Millat's visit to the United States The foundation of friendship and economic co-operation". Jang English Services. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Staff editor (6 October 2011). "Pakistan Chronicle's collection: Liaquat Ali Khan goes to the US (1950)". The Friday Times. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Staff writer (17 October 2010). "The foreign policy of Liaquat Ali Khan". Dawn news foreign policy archives. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Makhdumi, Umar M. (11 November 2011). "Liaquat Ali Khan's visit to US". Dawn News. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Bahadur, Kalim (1998). Democracy in Pakistan : crises and conflicts. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications. ISBN 8124100837. 
  6. ^ Graebner, M. Srinivas Chary ; foreword by Norman A. (1994). The eagle and the peacock : U.S. foreign policy toward India since independence (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313276021. 
  7. ^ Goswami, Arvind (2012). 3 D Deceit, Duplicity & Dissimulation of U.S. Foreign Policy towards India. Author House Public. Co. ISBN 1477257098. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bahadur, Kalim (1998). Democracy in Pakistan : crises and conflicts. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications. ISBN 8124100837.