Anti American Sentiments Hurt Pakistan’s Cause

This post originally appeared on Wasiq Ali’s blog this morning and was too important to not re-post here.

By Wasiq Ali

The Washington Post of September 25, 2009 carries a news story about the rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan titled Anti-U.S. Wave Imperiling Efforts in Pakistan, Officials Say

As the story points out – “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.”

Those who have leaked the story have deliberately chosen to do so at a time when the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) summit is going on.

Stories like these have been leaked by people who think they can harm President Asif Ali Zardari and Ambassador Husain Haqqani. However, what they fail to understand is that President Zardari and Ambassador Haqqani represent Pakistan and that in spreading such stories they are hurting Pakistan.

The international community is on the side of Pakistan and Pakistanis and wants to help them. We need trade, aid and assistance from our allies like the United States. The Kerry-Lugar bill which was just passed has increased American aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion every year for the next five years. This is time to strengthen Pakistan’s relations with the United States and not to attack the relationship.

The WP story has an interview with America-hater Shireen Mazari who states “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.”

The way that Shireen Mazari has given an interview very clearly shows us that it is her lobby and associates who have leaked this story. From their point of view they think they are hurting the PPP-led government and ‘scoring points.’

But from the point of view of the average Pakistani they are hurting his livelihood and the future of his children. If more economic assistance and investment comes into the country then there will be more jobs, better schools, improved infrastructure and higher pay.

Instead of attacking people like Ambassador Haqqani as being pro-American we actually owe him a huge thanks for using all the skills at his and his embassy’s disposal to improve the US-Pakistan relationship. As the WP story states “At the highest levels, bilateral cooperation is said to be running smoothly. President Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met Thursday in New York with a gathering of Pakistan’s international ‘friends.’ The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, meets regularly with his Pakistani counterpart, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani.”

However, “just below the top, officials in Islamabad and Washington say, the relationship is fraught with mutual suspicion and is under pressure so extreme that it threatens cooperation against the insurgents.”

What this means is that the leaders of both countries realize that it is in their benefit to move ahead, the problems are more at the mid and mid-to-lower level officials. It is interesting that the WP story says that a recent Pew Research Center poll “found considerable support for the “idea” of working with the United States to combat terrorism.” This means that the average Pakistani is supportive of American assistance. The problem comes from conspiracy theorists, anti-Americanists like Shireen Mazari and others who want to rile people over issues without realizing that this is going to hurt the country in the long term.

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