Rising Anti-Americanism in Pakistan

On May 14, after deliberations of over 10 hours, the democratically-elected Pakistan Parliament in a joint session of both houses passed a unanimous resolution to reclaim Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national security against U.S. military actions.  Invoking the U.N. Charter, international law, and humanitarian norms, the resolution specifically condemns “the continued drone attacks on the territory of Pakistan,” which have increased manifold under President Obama.  The resolution empowers the Pakistan Government “to consider taking necessary steps including withdrawal of transit facility allowed to NATO/ISAF forces” in case the CIA-operated drone attacks are not “stopped forthwith.” The Parliament also expressed “its deep distress” over “the campaign in certain (U.S.) quarters” to malign Pakistan as a nation that secretly supports terrorist outfits.

The U.S. National Security Council (NSC), the President’s principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters, should take notice of the rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan. It must review the policy of drone attacks and find ways to establish rapport with the Pakistan Parliament. Failure to do so would most likely harm U.S. strategic and foreign policy interests.

Drones as Propaganda Tools

Shrouded in secrecy, drone attacks have turned into propaganda tools for both defenders and critics. Because the international and Pakistani media are denied access to the tribal areas, the target territory of drone attacks, the precise count of casualties remains unclear. Furthermore, no one knows with certainty whether drones kill more militants or civilians. Defenders, mostly in the U.S., support drones as efficacious machines to fight militants lodged in inaccessible mountains. Critics, mostly in Pakistan, condemn drones as lawless gadgets that kill innocent men, women, and children, the indigenous population of tribal areas.

The Pakistani electronic media, exercising its newly-found freedom of expression, is the greatest critic of drone attacks.  Day after day, Pakistani anchors, sitting among politicians, government officials, and opinion makers, condemn drone attacks, reinforcing the unprecedented anti-Americanism throughout Pakistan. Even pro-Western elites, educated in American universities and trained in military academies, are disappointed with the U.S. disrespect for Pakistan as a nation. The NSC must not underestimate the fallout of these negative sentiments.

Silk-Route Alliance

The NSC is reported to have examined the Parliament’s resolution and the rising anti-Americanism. Some in the NSC oppose the frequency, and perhaps the wisdom, of drone attacks, particularly at the eve of Afghanistan war.  All in the NSC, however, know that Pakistan has few operable options to stop drone attacks. Pakistan cannot shoot down drones for such countermeasures would invite the U.S. Congress to impose economic and military sanctions, in addition to withholding billions of dollars in assistance. Pakistan is also unlikely to withdraw transit facilities for fear of jeopardizing trade and diplomatic relations with NATO states.  In no way can Pakistan afford a dramatic breach with the U.S.

Nonetheless, a helpless Pakistan, under intense anti-American pressure at home, may begin to take small steps to drift away toward China, the so-called all-weather friend, and possibly woo Russia, modifying its pro-U.S. foreign policy. A Silk-Route alliance, including China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asian states, is unlikely to forge anytime soon, but Pakistan, more than China, will be the key to such an alliance. Central Asian states, rich in natural resources, will find the alliance economically appealing. The alliance with Muslim states will effectively eliminate the Uighur secessionist threat in the Xinjiang province, a huge benefit to China. India too is unlikely to fully embrace the U.S. as a counter-weight to the Silk-Route Alliance. India cannot trust the U.S. after the U.S. brutally degrades and abandons Pakistan, a sixty-year old subservient ally. The Silk-Route alliance may thus expel the U.S. from the region.

Courting Pakistan’s Parliament

If the NSC wishes to retain Pakistan as an ally, it must take immediate steps to demonstrate that it respects Pakistan’s democratically-elected Parliament. The NSC may consider the following steps in mending the breach with the Parliament:

1. The NSC should invite influential members of the Parliament to the U.S. to meet with members of Congress for meaningful exchange of views. Members of Congress must also visit Pakistan to make the case for the U.S. national security. This democratic bilateralism will deepen mutual understanding of elected institutions.

2. The NSC should dissuade government officials and members of Congress from issuing provocative statements that paint Pakistan as an unreliable or duplicitous ally. Such degrading rhetoric is more appropriate after the NSC decides to ditch Pakistan as an ally.

3. The NSC should stop drone attacks forthwith, meeting a key demand of Pakistan’s Parliament.  Killing a few more militants cannot change the ground realties of the Afghan war.  In alienating the people of Pakistan and its Parliament, the drone attacks cause more harm than benefit to U.S. geostrategic interests.

These and similar steps will launch a pragmatic policy of treating Pakistan as a dignified ally, which recognizes Pakistan’s sacrifices in supporting the U.S. campaign against terrorism. With the rising anti-Americanism, Pakistan will no longer remain a slave state.

Ali Khan is professor of Law at Washburn University School of Law and the author of A Theory of Universal Democracy (2003).

Limited Time Special Offer!
Get CounterPunch Print Edition By Email for Only $25 a Year!

More articles by:
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes