Are We Defending the Pakistan of our Dreams, or the Real Thing?

We’re told that we fight to protect Pakistan – but how many of its people want US help, or even share our views about the threat?

  1. Analysis: Pakistan not apt to cooperate“, AP, 25 September 2009 — A confused mish-mash of views and information, although the headline is probably correct.
  2. Anti-U.S. Wave Imperiling Efforts in Pakistan, Officials Say“, Washington Post, 25 September 2009
  3. Pakistan Public Opinion Survey, International Republican Institute (IRI), March 2009

For more about how the people of Pakistan view the USA, see The love of an ally is sweet to behold (21 August 2009).


(1)  Analysis: Pakistan not apt to cooperate“, AP, 25 September 2009 — A confused mish-mash of American agitprop and actual information about Pakistan, although the headline is probably correct.  Excerpt:

Pakistan has been ambivalent about the militants, sometimes trying to enlist them as potential allies in case they take control again in neighboring Afghanistan — a prospect many here believe is getting closer.

(2)  Anti-U.S. Wave Imperiling Efforts in Pakistan, Officials Say“, Washington Post, 25 September 2009 — Excerpt:

A new wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan has slowed the arrival of hundreds of U.S. civilian and military officials charged with implementing assistance programs, undermined cooperation in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and put American lives at risk, according to officials from both countries.

In recent weeks, Pakistan has rejected as “incomplete” at least 180 U.S. government visa requests. Its own ambassador in Washington has criticized what he called a “blacklist” used by the Pakistani intelligence service to deny visas or to conduct “rigorous, intrusive and obviously crude surveillance” of journalists and nongovernmental aid organizations it dislikes, including the Congress-funded International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute.

Tension has been fueled by widespread media reports in Pakistan of increased U.S. military and intelligence activity — including the supposed arrival of 1,000 Marines and the establishment of “spy” centers in houses rented by the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Islamabad. U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson has publicly labeled the reports false …

“We recognize that Pakistani public opinion on the United States is still surprisingly low, given the tremendous effort by the United States to lead an international coalition in support of Pakistan,” Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said after Thursday’s meetings. “We are a long way from this meeting to realities on the ground.”

… One of the most vocal critics is security analyst and newspaper columnist Shireen Mazari, praised by supporters as a champion of Pakistan’s independence. Patterson’s Aug. 27 letter to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, head of the media group that owns the News newspaper and Geo Television, complained that Mazari’s column and talk shows had made “wildly incorrect” charges that could endanger Americans’ safety. In particular, Patterson objected to Mazari’s “baseless and inaccurate allegation” that Washington-based Creative Associates International, a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development with offices in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, was a “CIA front-company.”

In a telephone interview Sunday, Mazari said: “I definitely have concerns about the Americans’ intentions here, especially that they would like to get access to our nuclear assets. The U.S. mind-set is suspicious of strong Muslim states, and there is a certain imperial arrogance in their behavior that Pakistanis like me don’t like.”

Many Pakistanis see the United States as the latest in a long line of usurpers. “It’s like history repeating itself, from the time the East India Company came out here,” Mazhar Salim, 52, a phone-booth operator in Islamabad, said last weekend. “We are a Muslim country, and the non-Muslim world, the Americans and the Jews and the Indians, are all threatened by our civilization.”

(3) Pakistan Public Opinion Survey, International Republican Institute (IRI), March 2009

What is the most important issue facing Pakistan? (slide 11)

  • Inflation……………..46%
  • Unemployment……22%
  • Terrorism…………..10%
  • Poverty……………..09%
  • Law and order…….04%
  • Electricity/water..03%
  • Corruption………..02%
  • Corruption

I support the Army fighting the extremists in NWFP and FATA? (slide 16)

  • Agree…….45%
  • Disagree…52%

I support the US making military incursions in the tribal areas? (slide 17)

  • Agree…….24$
  • Disagree…72%

Do you think that Pakistan should cooperate with the US on its war against terror?

  • Agree…….37% (was 46% in September 2006)
  • Disagree…61% (was 43%)

I support a peace deal with the extremists. (slide 19)

  • Agree…….72%
  • Disagree…22%

Do you support the recent peace deal between the government and the Taliban, so that Sharia Law will be enforced in Swat? (slide 20)

  • Support….80%
  • Oppose:…16%

Do you think that the deal will bring peace to the region? (slide 21)

  • Yes…74%
  • No….20%

In the future, if the Taliban demand Sharia in other parts of Pakistan — like Karachi, Multan, Quetta or Lahore — would you support their demands? (slide 25)

  • Yes…56%
  • No….39%

If you had a choice between a stable and prosperous Pakistan that was ruled by a military dictatorship or a democratic government that led to an unstable and insecure Pakista, which would you choose? (slide 39)

  • Military dictatorship………20%
  • Democratic government…77%

Originally published at Fabius Maximus and reproduced here with the author’s permission.