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Three Things Pakistanis Hate: al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the United States « The Washington Independent

I suppose the headline from the new Pakistani public opinion poll is They Really Hate The Taliban, but that’s cold comfort. There has been a consensus in Pakistan against the Taliban since the Taliban conquered the Swat valley, and The Washington Post reports that, accordingly, “about two-thirds” of Pakistanis have unfavorable opinions of them and al-Qaeda. But:

Condemnation of extremists did not coincide with a more favorable view of the United States, held by only 16 percent of the Pakistanis surveyed. Only 13 percent said they had confidence in President Obama, a stark contrast to his overwhelming popularity in much of the rest of the world. A hefty 64 percent said they regard the United States as an enemy of Pakistan.

So they view the United States and the Taliban about equally. U.S. officials are fond of saying that Pakistani antipathy to the United States is attributable to Pakistani fears of U.S. inconsistency. But that’s like saying your wife ran away because she thinks you’re going to leave her. Maybe instead she doesn’t like your behavior more generally, and thinks you’re determined to control her life.

Only 22 percent said the United States takes Pakistani views into account when making foreign policy decisions, a number largely unchanged since 2007.

Pakistani elites may see a value to a long-term U.S. relationship. But the evidence is that such a view is wider than it is deep. Perhaps U.S. expansion of the relationship to economic and development assistance will change that dynamic. But even if so, it starts out at a distinct disadvantage.

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