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Anti-American Sentiment On The Rise In Pakistan

by @ 10:44 am on September 12, 2009. Filed under Afghanistan, China, Foreign Affairs, India, Middle East, Pakistan

As the War on Terror shifts it’s focus to the northern regions of Pakistan, it seems that the average Pakistani is becoming more suspicious of the United States:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — For weeks now, the Pakistani media have portrayed America, its military and defense contractors in the darkest of lights, all part of an apparent campaign of anti-American vilification that is sweeping the country and, according to some, is putting American lives at risk.

Pakistanis are reacting to what many here see as an “imperial” American presence, echoing Iraq and Afghanistan, with Washington dictating to the Pakistani military and the government. Polls show that Pakistanis regard the U.S., formally a close ally and the country’s biggest donor, as a hostile power.

U.S. officials have either denied the allegations or moved to blunt the criticism, but suspicions remain and relations between the two countries are getting more strained.

The lively Pakistani media has been filled with stories of under-cover American agents operating in the country, tales of a huge contingent of U.S. Marines planned to be stationed at the embassy, and reports of Blackwater private security personnel running amuck. Armed Americans have supposedly harassed and terrified residents and police officers in Islamabad and Peshawar, according to local press reports.

And the hysteria seems to be having an impact on government policy, and impacted it’s willingness to cooperate with the United States on anti-terror initiatives:

The Pakistani government has repeatedly stated that joining the U.S. “war on terror” has cost the nation an estimated $34 billion and ministers frequently lambast the U.S. for trespassing on Pakistani territory with use of spy planes to target suspected militants — an emotive tacit for the Pakistani population.

Ambassador Patterson said that “the (Pakistani) government could be more helpful” in combating the anti-American controversies, which took on a new fever pitch since the beginning of August.

The weak Islamabad government appears unable to come to the defense of its ally and even tried to score some popularity points by joining the U.S.-baiting.

A widely believed conspiracy contends that America is deliberately destabilizing Pakistan, to bring down a “strong Muslim country”, and ultimately seize its nuclear weapons. Pakistanis, especially its military establishment, also are distrustful of U.S. motives in Afghanistan, seeing it as part of a strategy for regional domination. Further Pakistanis are appalled that the regime of Hamid Karzai in Kabul is close to archenemy India.

“Part of the reason why we can’t fight terrorism is because the terrorists have adopted what I’d call anti-U.S. imperialist discourse, which makes them more popular,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, an analyst and author of Military Inc.

Many also blame the U.S. for “imposing” a president on the country, Zardari, who is deeply disliked and who last year succeeded an unpopular U.S.-backed military dictator. So democrats resent American interference in Pakistani politics, while conservatives distrust American aims in Afghanistan.

Pakistan isn’t just any other Muslim country, of course.

As the article notes, it’s a Muslim country with nuclear weapons; as many as 200 of them according to some estimates. A destabilized, anti-American, nuclear armed Pakistan would be an incredibly big problem, as would a Pakistan that falls into the hands of terrorists.Which is why something tells me that those Pakistani fears of an American plan to seize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal may have more truth to it than Washington will ever admit — if something goes wrong in Pakistan, the most important question would be what happens to the nuclear arsenal and it’s a question of interest not only to us and the whole Middle East, but also to India and China.

This one’s a big problem, folks.

H/T: United Liberty

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