FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail