Korean War (1950 – 1953) and Pakistan

The Korean war was the first direct military confrontation of the episode of cold-war. The war started in 1950 and it took three years for the burning fire to be settled down.


Korea was geographically a peninsula, sharing its borders with China. In 1910, imperialist Japan seized control of the country; and thus it came under the dominion of Japan. However, world war 2 changed the landscape of the world; many puissant powers such as Germany and Japan had to go down to their knees after the crushing defeat by the Allied powers.

Already the cold-war had culminated where the capitalist “America” and communist “USSR” were effervescently fighting each other to bring their system to the whole world. The decision of the Korean peninsula was peculiar, for it was divided into two countries and different political and economic systems. The 38th parallel was the partitioning line; whereby North Korea was heeded towards Russia while South Korea opted to pursue America’s vision.

The immutable desire of the USSR to expand its strategic depth compelled it to persuade North Korea to attack South Korea. Heavy military and financial assistance were provided to bring the supposed plan to the real geographical map. China, which was already formulating itself as a communist country, also supported North Korea along with the USSR explicitly.

On the other hand, the Western bloc was firmly determined to halt the North Korean expansion into South Korea; and therefore chose to opt for any measure to weaken Russian influence on Korean land. The US showed an aggressive stance amidst the ignited war and sent military support to stall back the communist forces.

Pakistan during Korean War:

Pakistan took birth in 1947 in the worst economic conditions. To offset its miseries and shortcomings, she was badly craving global recognition and standing. As the theater of the Korean war began too early concerning its foreign policy situation, a very minuscule margin remained for any mistake and wrong decisions.

Moreover, China was also a key ally of the USSR during the Korean War but also had naturally developed the brothers like relationship with Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan, then Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan had titled Pakistan’s foreign policy towards the western bloc (of course the realist’s accounts are enough to explain the moves of Pakistan at that stage). Now, the question was yet to be answered whether to dive into the war with the western countries or not.

A former and veteran diplomat “Abdul Sattar” critically describes the scenario at that time in his book “Pakistan Foreign Policy” International pressure was huge and the policymakers were thinking of the implications if Pakistan would participate in the war against communist countries. As Pakistan was a naïve country whose just aim was to secure its position vis-à-vis neighboring India, she was unwilling to indulge in any sort of International tension. Furthermore, if Pakistan joined the war, probably Pakistan’s armed forces would have to directly engage in fighting with friendly China. No one could estimate what could be the contours of participation, but one thing is clear: the relations with China would have deteriorated.

However, despite all the pressure, Pakistan, finally, succeeded to refrain from sending troops into the Korean war. And in 1953, the Korean war ended and South Korea’s sovereignty was protected.

Economic Benefits of Pakistan in Korean War:

The supply chain due to the war was badly disrupted, which resulted in a shortage of food and raw material. The hike in prices of wheat, cotton, and Jute provided Pakistan an opportunity to raise its exports and offset its economic bleaks. Resultantly, Pakistan’s GDP growth increased at the rate of nine percent.

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