Pretty Much Every Resident Of Our “Ally” Pakistan Hates Us

A Pew Research Center poll released this week provides a stark reminder of just how bad the reputation is in what is arguably one of our most important strategic allies:

Currently, just 12% express a positive view of the U.S. and only 8% have confidence in President Barack Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Obama’s ratings are as low as former President George W. Bush’s were in 2008. Most Pakistanis see the U.S. as an enemy, consider it a potential military threat, and oppose American-led anti-terrorism efforts. All of these views were comparably negative both before and after the killing of bin Laden.

Pakistanis are also highly negatively disposed toward most of the U.S. policies that impact their country:

Key features of U.S. foreign policy remain unpopular in Pakistan. Only one-in-five think the U.S. considers Pakistani interests when making foreign policy decisions. Almost seven-in-ten (69%) want U.S. and NATO troops out of neighboring Afghanistan. Roughly six-in-ten (62%) oppose U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

And beyond the opposition to the raid on bin Laden’s compound, there are other signs that Pakistanis are concerned about issues related to sovereignty and the use of American military force within their country’s borders. Among those who are aware of U.S. drone strikes against extremists in Pakistan, these attacks are widely seen as unnecessary and as too costly in terms of innocent lives. Fears about U.S. military power are widespread – 69% believe the U.S. could be a military threat to Pakistan.

And just to bring the point home, most Pakistanis believe that their biggest enemy isn’t al Qaeda, the Taliban, or the Pakistan Tailban, but the nation they were once a part of:

How much longer can we really trust these people?

H/T: Andrew Malcom

FILED UNDER: Asia, National Security, Terrorism, World Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. DMan says:

    I see there was no option for “Other.”

    I’m not too surprised that more Pakistanis see India as a threat than Al Qaeda or the Taliban. And anyone who can take off their American lenses for a second wouldn’t be too surprised either.

    Try this thought exercise: Imagine Mexico were China. Do you really think more Americans would see Al Qeada as more a threat than our powerful southern neighbor?

    The analogy isn’t perfect of course, but it’s a good start towards understanding why many Pakistanis might feel threatened more by India than the Taliban or Al Qeada.

  2. Abdul says:

    I’m Pakistani and I have family members who are involved and well placed in politics in Pakistan. There are basically two classes, villagers and the landlords. This is an oversimplification, of course, but think about this.

    Those in the upper class have been trying for several years to get NWFP under control, every single time even a piece of livestock, not to mention people, die in a US strike that is publicly opposed, the villagers there will not accept the idea that it was done for their benefit.

    Taliban and al Qaeda are basically a joke in every region. The only place they control any sort of Pakistani policy is in the minds of Americans. Most of the villagers really don’t care for this ultra-Islamic farce, they just want some security. But US forces go over threatening them and Taliban acts like they are friends. If you had no access to TV or 24 hour news, but you saw bombs falling, and the people doing it bully you, then whose side would you choose? Do you think Taliban is throwing acid in faces while they are trying to win hearts and minds? They are notorious for shifting tactics and making false apologies.

    And India is a threat to the educated classes in Pakistan, not a real military threat, but an economic one. However there is no way to attempt to compete because all focus has to be placed on damage control to the NWFP. Meanwhile India is free to engage globally as they choose, because they are not targeted.

    I don’t want to go for the essay in a post, so I’ll leave at that.

  3. DMan says:

    To address the rest of the post for a second, I’m sure there are plenty of thought experiments once could produce to begin understanding why many Pakistanis would view the United States as a threat. Abdul hits on some of these points from experience, but any American who has followed our policies in the region with an interest towards understanding the reactions that they may cause would be able to surmise much of this.

    Alternatively, we could avoid much thinking all together and just jump to the conclusion that Pakistanis must hate us because they are Muslim. Of course we hate when those damn Muslims jump to conclusions about us though, why are they so incapable of seeing the nuance of our constant invasions into their regions?

  4. James says:

    The Obama administration, and probably the Bush administration before it, has never looked upon or characterized Pakistan as an “ally.” Pakistan, they refer to as a “partner.” In fact, the difference between “ally” and “partner” is very specific and an important distinction.

    For example, from the   6/15/2011 press briefing :    

    Q    Jay, you describe the relationship with Pakistan as uneasy and complicated.

            MR. CARNEY:  I think I said “complicated,” but yes.

            Q    Well, you said it’s not an easy relationship.  

            MR. CARNEY:  Okay.  (Laughter.)

            Q    Uneasy was my word, I concede that.  But one word you didn’t use was “allies.”  Is Pakistan an ally of the United States?

            MR. CARNEY:  Pakistan is a partner of the United States, an important partner in fighting terrorism, fighting the terrorists who in that region plotted the attack on the United States on September 11th of 2001.  

            Q    Is partner different than ally?

            MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think there are diplomatic nuances between these words.  The important thing is Pakistan has been an important partner.  It is a relationship that we work very hard on.  We candidly acknowledge that it is complicated.  It is difficult.  But it is very important.  

            And we have the — the cooperation we do get from the Pakistanis has been vital to our efforts.  And that is why we continue to work with the Pakistanis to ensure that that cooperation continues.  

    I point this out because you ask “How much longer can we really trust these people?” as if we do, in some kind of rose-colored, naive innocence. Please.

    Then again, that’s what you get for reading Andrew Malcolm and citing him as if he might have an opinion worth listening to. I assure you, my three year old grandson has a more relevant opinion on any given subject, including relations with Pakistan, than Andrew Malcolm.

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    If Canada were conducting a shadow war on our soil and killing our civilians while ignoring our repeated requests to stop, we’d hate them. Why should Pakistanis be different?

  6. Jimbo says:

    If Canada were conducting a shadow war on our soil and killing our civilians while ignoring our repeated requests to stop, we’d hate them. Why should Pakistanis be different?

    This is exactly why the Afghans and Indians hate the Pakistanis.