|President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy receiving President Ayub Khan
Even as the Obama administration courts Modi, the top US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, are in Beijing for "Strategic and Economic Dialogue". It's an acknowledgment of the fact that the U.S. and China are the two largest economies in the world. American Treasury Secretary has described the US-China relationship as "the most important economic relationship in the world."
Meanwhile, Pakistan is drawing close to China to broaden its strategic relationship with stronger economic and military ties. Joint military programs like the JF-17 Thunder combat jet and the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are manifestations of it.
|L to R: JFK, Nasim Aurangzeb, Jackie Kennedy & Ayub Khan at Mt Vernon
Now, let me describe in a little more detail Pakistani President Ayub Khan's 1961 visit to the United States. The fact is Modi's reception pales in comparison to what a Pakistani leader got during the Cold War.
The Pakistani President was extended the rare honor of being welcomed by the US President and the First Lady at the airport when the PIA airplane carrying him landed at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC.
He was also given the privilege of addressing a special Joint Session of the US Congress on Capitol Hill where he received standing ovation. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was the first Pakistani leader to address a session of US Congress back in 1950. Pakistani Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto also addressed a joint session of US Congress in 1989.
There was a state dinner in Ayub's honor hosted by President and Mrs. Kennedy at Mount Vernon, the historic residence of America's founding father and first president George Washington.
Later, he was hosted at a dinner by New York City mayor after he rode an open top car in a ticker-tape parade through the Big Apple with tens of thousands of New Yorkers lining the parade route and cheering him on.
Then President Ayub visited The Alamo in Texas where then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted him for a Texas style barbecue. Ayub Khan addressed joint houses of Texas legislature.
On his way back, the then UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden hosted a dinner in his honor before President Ayub returned to Pakistan.
The fact is Modi's reception pales in comparison with what the Pakistani leader was given during the Cold War.
Here's a video of President Ayub Khan's US visit:
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