Anti-Americanism in Pakistan
The Post-9/11 Scenario
Mehtab Ali Bhatti
The notion and concept of anti-Americanism – a pervasive feeling of anger, hostility and condemnation towards the United States of America – has been implanted in the minds of Pakistanis since many decades; owing, on the one hand, to the mistakes committed by the American government and its prejudiced policies towards Pakistan and the failures and weaknesses of the Pakistani authorities, on the other. Since the inception of Pakistan, the relations between the two states have been on a roller-coaster ride because of convergence and divergence of national interests. These bilateral relations were based on a commitment to help each other in hard times, but by realistic assumption – according to realistic paradigm state is a unitary actor which pursues power and recognizes no authority above its own. Power and its projection is another aspect of realism which is defined by both national and self-interest; or in other words through competing power interests – this did not prove true as is evident from the 1965 and 1971 wars. In these two events, Pakistan was in hot waters but was left high and dry by the United States. This created an extreme resentment and a wave of anti-Americanism in Pakistan.
Some people brought anti-Americanism to the streets by staging protests. In these protests, especially those organized to condemn any American aggression that could hurt religious sentiments of the people or even put indigenous values at stake, attempts were even made to damage American property. There have been a number of such events wherein hatred and feeling of anti-Americanism were ignited which resulted into violent protests.
Historically, the feelings of anti-Americanism started taking roots in the 1950s. They rose in the 1960s when America did not assist Pakistan in its 1965 war against India. These further soared to new heights in the 1970s when Zia ousted country’s democratically-elected Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. This strong anti-Americanism, however, abated in the 1980s because of the US affability towards and support to Afghan Mujahideen which ultimately rid Afghanistan of the Soviet forces. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the US abandoned both the Afghan mujahideen and Pakistan and throughout the 1990s, the latter kept reeling under criushihng sanctions imposed by the United States, especially when Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in May 1998 – this also created extreme resentment among the Pakistanis. Consequently, the post-9/11 decade brought new layers of frustrations, complexities hatred and grievances. This era particularly invited the wrath of the religious parties of Pakistan, e.g. Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) as they demonstrated extensively against Pakistan’s decision to align with the United States in its so-called war on terrorism in Afghanistan.
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