Daud Khattak, tribune.com.pk
Image (not from article) from, with caption: Jackie Kennedy and her sister ride a camel in Karachi in 1962 | Photo credit: JFK Library Archives
At a time when Pakistan-US relations are possibly at the lowest ebb for a number of reasons, few people remember or even know of the peak days when a US first lady visited Pakistan and extensively travelled across the country to a rousing welcome by thousands of men, women and children 55 years ago.
From Karachi to Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, people were seen lining the roads and streets, waving, cheering and cherishing their country’s friendship with the United States.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy, the highly cultured and well-educated wife of the charismatic John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th US president, was the last first lady visiting this country which was on a trajectory of growth and prosperity in the first 20 years of its emergence on the world’s map.
Jacqueline Kennedy’s fairy-tale Pakistan visit from March 21-26, 1962 was reciprocal to a trip of the United States by President Muhammad Ayub Khan in July 1961 where, President Kennedy, as a show of warmth, greeted his Pakistani guest at the airport instead of the White House.
Soon after taking charge of the White House, one of President Kennedy’s several challenges was to win over the support of and keep away the two freshly-independent South Asian states — India and Pakistan — away from the expanding shadows of communism in the region. And no one could have performed the job better than Jacqueline Kennedy, who had already become a face of US public diplomacy. ...
Although numerous Pakistani governments and heads of governments have developed close ties with the United States and its leadership in the days that followed, Jackie’s visit was unprecedented in terms of its appeal to the people of Pakistan and the power of public diplomacy where pro-American sentiments in the then West Pakistan were touching the peak. ...
Although Pakistan and the United States have undergone various stages of ties from security and military to economic and hardcore diplomacy, the only ties having lasting impact are established through public diplomacy and not through huge sums of money in military assistance or state welfare projects.