By Spc. Bryce S. Dubee
Third U.S. Army Public Affairs Office
FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. -- Third U.S. Army recently hosted Ambassador Jamsheed Marker, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, as part of the unit's Officer Professional Development program.
The OPD program invites various subject matter experts from around the world to speak to members of Third Army about issues relating to the unit and its area of operations. As the Army component for U.S. Central Command, Third Army's area of responsibility includes than 27 countries, in an area ranging from the Horn of Africa, across the Arabian Peninsula, into Central Asia.
Marker has been the Pakistani ambassador to the United States since 1986. He has also served as the United Nations under-Secretary General and as a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Marker has been heralded for his role in bringing about the resolution of the East Timor conflict, and the independence of that nation.
Throughout his diplomatic career, Marker has represented Pakistan in the United Nations, the former Soviet Union, Canada, East Germany, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany, France and other countries. One of his many achievements is holding the record for having been the ambassador to more countries than any other person.
Speaking to a packed conference room at Third Army headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., while being simultaneously broadcast to Third Army headquarters in Kuwait, Marker's discussions that day concentrated on his perceptions of U.S./Pakistan relations.
In his opening remarks, Marker commented on what first prompted him to come to the United States as an ambassador. In 1984, while serving as ambassador to France, he attended a ceremony in the cemetery commemorating the landing at Normandy during World War II and he took some time to walk through the cemetery.
"There were English names, Irish names, French names, Dutch names, German names, Italian names and Latin names," he said. "And I remember thinking to my self that these boys" fathers and grandfathers had crossed the ocean to set up a new and free country, and the grandsons and sons had come back for the same reasons, and that is, to establish a free society. I thought that a society that could do that sort of thing must have something tremendous within it."
Having been associated with U.S./Pakistan relationship for some time, Marker said the relationship has always been one of fascination, punctuated by a series of love/hate events.
Discussing the history of this relationship dating back to Pakistan's formation in 1947, Marker said that the relationship went through three separate phases.
"I'm not sure that there is any other country in the world with which the United States has had such a complicated relationship," he said.
In the beginning, there were good relations that went on for about five to 10 years in which Pakistan received significant financial and military support, culminating in Pakistan signing the Baghdad Pact in 1955. This act put Pakistan in league with NATO and the West in opposition to the Soviet countries.
Later, Pakistan began to form ties with the People's Republic of China which, in conjunction with the Vietnam War, led to a cooling period of U.S. relations.
"A large investment had been made into Pakistan; economically, militarily and politically, and the people in Washington were starting to wonder what the Pakistanis were up to," said Marker.
Then in the 1970's, President Richard Nixon visited Pakistan and in the course of the visit, worked out a deal for Pakistan to help facilitate relations between the United States and China. The plan was successful, and after that point U.S./Pakistan relations took an upswing.
When Pakistan and India began proliferation of nuclear weapons, relations with the United States declined again. However, this changed when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and again the United States began to work closely with Pakistan in supporting the mujahideen.
"However, unknown to us at the time," said Marker. "We were creating a Frankenstein monster in the form of the Taliban."
Pakistan originally supported the Taliban in the fight against the Soviets, however after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the people of Pakistan, especially their leader President Pervez Musharraf, have changed their policies with Afghanistan.
"Musharraf's problem is that he has done a U-turn," said Marker. "However he's not in a powerful motorboat, what he's got is a hulking, over laden ship which is slow to respond and slow to turn."
"The idea right now is for Pakistan to progress towards becoming a moderate, progressive Islamic state, a Muslim country while at the same time trying to raise the living standard," Marker said. "There are far too many people in Pakistan still living on less than two dollars a day. And that has to be improved. That is what I think Musharraf is trying to concentrate on."