The AfPak War
In an article in the Washington Post, Anti-U.S. Wave Imperiling Efforts in Pakistan, Officials Say, writers explain the growing hostility towards the Americans in Pakistan But what is missing from this article is the historical aspect of anti Americanism in that part of the world. During my recent trip, I was shocked to see that almost everyone in the country has become a lot angrier and anti American sentiments have reached alarming proportions.
True, there is sill support for Washington, but America’s supporters are becoming a rarity in a Pakistan. One reason for this is the role that the media (read Urdu press and private T.V. channels) is airing every gossip, every conspiracy theory about America without explaining or educating the readers/listeners that the what you are about to hear or read has not been verified. More importantly, equal time is not given to those who would present a more balanced and factual picture about ground realities.
Anti American sentiments in Pakistan are not new. There has been a large population that has viewed America with suspicion. However, this trend of hating America really got a new life after Zia’s dictatorial and draconian tenure in Pakistan. Needless to say, Zia’s biggest supporter, donor and backer was the same America that finds it impossible to find support, any support in Pakistan.
Today, no matter what Americans do, the public opinion about America is not going to change any time. Even if something good or positive about America comes out, the right wingers in Pakistan drown the good news in hysterical shouting and accusations.
As mentioned before, with very few exceptions, private T.V. channels provide superb reach and a very powerful platform to those forces who want America to leave Afghanistan and Pakistan. These people also argue that 9/11 was an inside job by the Americans to launch an all out war against Muslims throughout the world. Because a vast majority of Pakistanis listen to this delusional rhetoric 24/7, they are going to believe it and this is exactly where we stand today. Majority of Pakistanis do believe that 9/11 was an inside job to declare war on Muslims. And this line of thinking prevents Pakistanis to view thing objectively or in the right context.
Nobody knows how to turn back the growing tide of Anti Americanism in Pakistan. I have recently come back to the United States after a year in Pakistan and I certainly don’t know the answer this question, but I do know that the more America tries to correct the record by answering the right wingers in Pakistan, the more people side with those nuts who blame America for everything wrong in the country. I think it is time for Washington to lower its profile and let Pakistanis focus on their daily challenges instead of huffing and puffing about America.