Why most Pakistanis dislike US?
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2017-09-12 06:57:42

Why most Pakistanis dislike US?


Pakistan’s new foreign and national security policy apparently would now be based on ‘No More’, when it comes to ‘Do More’, though we know what we have to do for ourselves. One of the reasons why most Pakistanis dislike the US is merely because of its repeated betrayal and distrust.



There is a history of almost 60 years of disappointment in Pakistan from the US. What it needs to understand is the fact that Pakistan is not part of the problem, but a solution to the problem. The problem came as a result of the US policies in post-Soviet Afghanistan and reaction to 9/11. It is Pakistan which has always paid the price.


Civil and military leadership once again felt they have been betrayed by the US and its allies, despite its war against terrorism and extremism, in which it suffered the loss of over 70,000 people including around 20,000 security personnel.


The reaction over new US Afghan policy was more sharp this time because after so many sacrifices, it is still considered by the US as part of the problem rather solution. What was more painful was the appreciation of its hostile neighbour.


Pakistan may never accept such a role for India in Afghanistan. Thus, Pakistan strongly felt betrayed once again like in 1971 or after Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, when it was dumped to deal with hundreds and thousands of foreign and local Mujahideen, many of whom later joined militant networks.Pakistan’s political and military leadership may never accept an Afghan policy in which India would be included as a partner.



Therefore, this statement from Trump hurt Pakistan the most, which in the last 40 years has become the victim of the US-led two wars in Afghanistan, one against Soviet and the other against Taliban or al-Qaeda.


Pakistan suffered in both wars. The first war resulted in changing the entire demographics of Pakistani society through narcotics and arms culture, and also divided the nation into sectarian and ethnic conflicts particularly in areas boarding Afghanistan, the other war saw the rise in terror networks and more extremism.


So, when army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa declared ‘No’ to the demand of ‘Do More’, it matched with the general sentiments on ground. He did not end merely by saying that the world must respect Pakistan’s role in the fight and stop demanding ‘Do More’, but he categorically announced complete elimination of terrorism and extremism.

Earlier, the Parliament also stated that it is time that the world must recognise Pakistan’s role and should hold it responsible for world’s own failure in Afghanistan.




Today, Pak-US relationship is perhaps all-time low since 9/11, which in many ways would only increase the anti-American sentiments and the US itself will have to share responsibility for it.



While there is also an element of disappointment within Pakistan, over BRICS resolution, but it was also considered as a wake-up call from its most trusted ally China and new ally Russia.


More clarity will come over BRICS demand during an all important visit of Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif to China and Russia. He will also be visiting Iran and all this will help in framing Pakistan’s new foreign policy. One thing is certain that Pakistan must struggle seriously to overcome the menace of extremism.



Yes, both army chief General Qamar Bajwa and Pakistan’s foreign minister were clear that non-state actors have no room in Pakistan. General Bajwa’s stance that ‘Fassad’ in the name of Jihad would not be acceptable. 



There is a history of love and hate relationship between Pakistan and United States since the days of first civil nuclear programme in 1956, called Atom for Peace.

But, among the common Pakistanis, the perception always has been anti-American, particularly after 1971. Some old political pundits also believe that US had ditched Pakistan time and again despite Pakistani establishments pro-American role.



The perception among common Pakistanis has always been that of distrust as they strongly felt America never came to their help in need. They not only blame US for its controversial role during the 1971 war against India, but also hold it responsible for the downfall of popular leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, because he had launched the nuclear programme to match India’s nuclear programme and blame the US for his hanging also.

Years later, when his daughter Benazir Bhutto came to Pakistan, the first challenge for her was to control anti-US sentiments within her followers.



Those were the days when the PPP jiyalas had always been in the forefront in building the US flags. She once told me that she herself faced criticism within the party when she decided to stop anti-American sentiments.



Another reason why the US, unpopular in Pakistan, was because of its constant support for unpopular military dictators, whether it is Field Marshal Ayub Khan, General Ziaul Haq or General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Since popular political parties and leadership have been anti-dictators, they blamed the US for backing dictators.



In the post-9/11, the religious-cum-political parties exploited this situation and for the first time in 2002, as a result of anti-American sentiments, they emerged as strong political force and swept Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and got 50 per cent NA seats in Karachi.

Pakistan has already paid a heavy price. On the one hand, because of its role in the war against terrorism; terrorists targeted civilians and security forces personnel with a series of suicide bombings, and on the other hand, they also targeted successive presidents and prime ministers.



The disappointment also came when the world did not fully support the bold operation in North Waziristan. Pakistan also cooperated with the world despite serious reservations over drone attacks.



There are greater challenges and dangers ahead, as Pakistan is passing through a difficult phase, both on domestic and foreign fronts. One thing is for sure that no major political upheaval would be allowed and the elections will be held on time, the accountability process will continue uninterrupted and no change of government is possible before the next polls.



The purpose is to move forward even with weak political and democratic system and let successive governments complete their terms in office. This may ease political tension within the country.



Whether it’s a myth or reality, the fact remains that most Pakistanis dislike America for more than one reason. Only through a more rational approach, the US could help ease tensions.

The world needs to do a lot more for Pakistan in terms of appreciating its efforts instead of asking Pakistan to ‘Do More’. Yes, it’s a long war particularly when it comes to winning against extremism and it’s a war of minds, a war of ideology, and Pakistan knows the price of losing such war. So, what it has demanded of the world is only respect and appreciation for its role.

The US can only change this perception within Pakistan by changing its policy and has to trust its civil and military leadership. The world has paid a heavy price in post-9/11 era, and only Americans can answer as to why it could not won the war against terrorism and extremism despite spending trillion of dollars. Destruction of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan as states and nations only helped the narrative of extremists.



Pakistan has fought a difficult war against all odds. The world must ‘Do More’, but we also know what we have to do the next, as it has now become ‘our own war’.


Mazhar Abbas



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