Public Opinion Of The U.S. In Pakistan Falls Dramatically

We’ve known for quite some time that the average Pakistani has a negative opinion of the United States, but a new Gallup poll shows that this antipathy has grown to record levels:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With President Barack Obama’s first term characterized by strained relations between Pakistan and the U.S., more than nine in 10 Pakistanis (92%) disapprove of U.S. leadership and 4% approve, the lowest approval rating Pakistanis have ever given.

Pakistanis’ approval of the leadership of their ostensible ally, the United States, has historically been quite low. However, perceptions began to change, albeit modestly, through much of Obama’s first term. As recently as May 2011, 27% of Pakistanis approved of U.S. leadership, the apex of support. Noticeably, approval declined after the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, carried out by the U.S. military without the assistance of the Pakistani military — an event that many Pakistanis viewed as a blatant disregard for Pakistani sovereignty.

These findings are based on a survey conducted from Sept. 30-Oct. 16, 2012, in Pakistan. The survey directly followed massive demonstrations against the release of an anti-Muslim film made in the U.S.

It’s arguably the case that the time at which the survey was taken coincided with a time when anti-Western ire had been stirred up, and that therefore these numbers may be a bit inflated, however I doubt that they would be all that different if the survey were taken today. It’s not just the film, after all, that influences what Pakistanis are thinking. They’ve got ten years or war, drone strikes, and decades of American support for repressive regimes. We’re leaving Afghanistan in 2014, but one wonders what we’re leaving behind in Pakistan.

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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. edmondo says:

    Gee, ten years of extralegal drone strikes raining down on them and they still don’t like us? Some people are just hard to please.

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Obviously the Pakistanis didn’t get the U.S. left-wing’s memo about the “reset” of U.S. global diplomacy and geopolitical relations and endeavors and the ensuing good feelings that certainly would follow.

    Right now they’re hatred of us presumably is at a high point, granted — war along their borders, drone attacks inside their borders, special ops. attacks, etc. — but even if Rambobama morphs from a lion into a lamb they’ll still pretty much hate us.

    The way to deal with Pakistan is through closer ties with India. The latter is a huge, emerging country, quickly growing towards becoming a 1st-world economy, it’s non-Muslim, they want to be our friends, they want to be trading partners of ours, and they’ve already kicked the Pakistanis’ asses multiple times since that 1940’s-era partition. The enemy and the superior of your frenemy is your friend.

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    “their hatred,” that is. Grammar never was my strong suit. Sigh.

  4. Rob in CT says:

    Wait, you mean they don’t LIKE it when we bomb them? Holy shit.

  5. You guys have it all wrong. They’re not mad about the drone strikes. They’re mad that they can’t market themselves as a safe harbor for terrorists anymore.

    Too bad, so sad.

  6. @Tsar Nicholas:

    “Obviously the Pakistanis didn’t get the U.S. left-wing’s memo about the “reset” of U.S. global diplomacy and geopolitical relations and endeavors and the ensuing good feelings that certainly would follow.”

    HA! You said the exact same thing about North Korea…….

    You’re like a vaudeville act, man. Different room….same ole jokes.

  7. Rob in CT says:

    Funny, since the “reset” was specific to US-Russian relations, as I recall.

  8. andrew says:

    We weren’t too popular in Germany and Japan during WWII either. So what?

  9. bill says:

    @andrew: maybe we could turn pakistan into a great car building nation? i mean really, they figured out how to make their own nukes, should be easy for them.