Pakistanis: We Want the U.S. Out

by JUSTIN DOOLITTLE

The A1 story in Sunday’s New York Times, written by Declan Walsh, is titled “U.S. Shift Poses Risk to Pakistan.” The story argues that, with the United States gradually dwindling down its political and military engagement with Pakistan, the latter faces a highly uncertain future. Walsh tells us that the disengagement will “diminish” the “prestige” and “political importance” Pakistan held as a “crucial player in global counterterrorism efforts” and could very well “upset its internal stability.”

It’s a piece that is revealing because one voice is noticeably left out of the analysis: that of the Pakistani people. Arguably the most salient fact about the U.S.-Pakistan dynamic is that Pakistanis – you know, the actual human beings who live in that country – despise the U.S. government and think the interaction between the two countries does more harm than good. Gallup conducted polling on these matters in Pakistan last year. An amazing 92% of Pakistanis expressed disapproval of U.S. leadership (i.e. Obama), while 4% approved. In a separate poll, 55% of Pakistanis reported that interaction with the West constitutes “more of a threat”; just 39% thought it was “more of a benefit.”

In a surprising development, Pakistanis don’t seem to support flagrant intrusions on their sovereignty, drone strikes that kill their fellow citizens, and a corrupt, secretive military government that regularly colludes with the U.S. (as of October, just 23% of Pakistanis expressed “confidence” in their government, which Gallup reports is widely viewed as being “too cozy” with the U.S.).

The Times article does not pay much attention to the thoughts and opinions of the Pakistani people, though. They’re background players and largely irrelevant. Walsh instead quotes a single Pakistani academic to support the article’s thesis; at other times in the piece he relies on unnamed “analysts” and “experts.” The only other individual he does quote on this narrow question of whether or not American disengagement “poses a risk” for Pakistan, a former Pakistani foreign minister, explicitly rejects the notion, saying that “less American involvement is good, not bad.”

The article concludes by stressing that, in fact, this alleged “shift” in the U.S.’s posture toward Pakistan is largely illusory, with “few” doubting that America “will remain deeply involved in Pakistan.” A former Obama administration official confidently predicts that the “mutual dependency” between the two countries “will not go away.” This basically undermines the entire point of the story.

Declan Walsh is a good reporter and he has spent a lot of time in Pakistan. But his virtual ignoring of the Pakistanis’ clearly expressed thoughts on these matters is instructive (the extent of the Pakistanis’ role in the article is a single sentence pointing out that drone strikes “stoked anger”). Consider the reverse scenario. Let’s say Pakistan had been propping up a corrupt military government here in the United States for years with aid and support. Pakistan was violating U.S. sovereignty at will, assassinating residents it considers a threat to Pakistani security, dumping their corpses in the ocean. Pakistan flew robots over American skies, from which missiles were regularly launched, killing American men, women, and children. Now imagine how we would feel if the most esteemed newspaper in the world published an article about all of this on its front page that completely ignored the will of the American public and disregarded our opinions.

Perhaps, when discussing geopolitics, we should consider the views of the populations themselves, and not just governments and elites. It’s a radical notion, but it just might make sense.

Justin Doolittle writes a political blog called Crimethink. He has an M.A. in public policy from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in political science from Coastal Carolina University.

Justin Doolittle is a freelance writer based in Long Island, New York. You can follow him on Twitter @JD1871.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire