Pakistanis Growing Frustrated With U.S.

Bush and Musharraf Photo  President George W. Bush and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf pose during a photo-op in the Oval Office Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004.White House photo by Tina Hager The headline “Pakistanis Growing Frustrated With U.S.” is, on the one hand, a superb case of the pot calling the kettle black. Still, there’s not much doubt about the underlying sentiment:

Inside call centers and in high school social studies classes, at vegetable markets and in book bazaars, Pakistanis from different walks of life here say that ever since President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule two weeks ago, he’s been the most unpopular figure in the country. But running a close second, many say, is his ally: President Bush.

“We used to love America. Give me Tom Cruise and a vacation in Florida any day,” said Parveen Aslam, 30, who like many Pakistanis has relatives in the United States. “But why isn’t the U.S. standing up for Pakistan when we need it most? Is America even listening to us? We are calling them Busharraf now. They are the same man.”

While many Pakistanis lament that the Bush administration is involved in their country’s politics, they also see the United States as the only force strong enough to do what they say is necessary to temper the crisis: pressure the military-led government to restore the constitution, release thousands of political prisoners and lift restrictions on the news media.

This is a classic dilemma in international politics but one that is particularly problematic for the United States. Perhaps more than any other great power in history, we have couched our foreign policy in the language of democracy and human rights. Yet, when rubber meets road, we’ve almost always carried out a Realist agenda, putting our security interests ahead of our human rights agenda. That dichotomy, quite naturally, creates frustration abroad.

via OTB News

Photo credit: Tina Hager (White House).

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    The greatest equipment with which you can meet life is effrontery.

  2. John Burgess says:

    The fact that most Pakistani lawyers subscribe to the Euro-leftist view of liberty is a bit off-putting: Maximum liberty as long as it feels good. It doesn’t have to be responsible, only couched in politically correct terms.

  3. William d'Inger says:

    That’s a dangerous situation. Pakistan could easily implode into fundamentalist religious chaos giving terrorists possession of WMDs. The U.S. erred on the side of democracy by undercutting support for the Shah of Iran, and we know what happened there. If it’s a matter of maintaining the status quo in Pakistan versus having New York or Washington nuked, I think our national security trumps the alternative.

    As for the “they hate us” stories, they are of no significance. The MSM can always find some malcontent in the bazaars of Karachi to quote when they need a hate fix. It’s SOP when a Republican occupies the White House. Our position on the Musharraf issue won’t change a think in that respect.