Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anti-Americanism in Pakistan

February 23, 2011
Special Dispatch No.3612
Senior Pakistani Journalist Khaled Ahmed Analyzes Anti-Americanism in Pakistan, Says: 'The Most Outstanding Reason for Hating America is Embedded in the State-Supported Campaign of Interpreting Taliban and Al-Qaeda Terrorism in Pakistan'; 'The People in Pakistan Hate America the Same Way as the Rest of the Islamic World on the Basis of a Flawed Interpretation of World Affairs... [which] Says that America is an Enemy of Islam'

An anti-U.S. protest organized by Jamaat-e-Islami (Image courtesy: Roznama Ummat, February 12, 2011)

In a recent article, veteran Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed examined the roots of the anti-Americanism sweeping across Pakistan in the wake of the arrest of Raymond Davis, an official of the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, over double murder charges.

In the article, titled "Roots of Pakistani Anti-Americanism,' Ahmed argued that anti-Americanism in Pakistan in contemporary times emanates from the Pakistan Army and is bolstered by former military officers, among them former Pakistan Army chief General Aslam Beg and Lt.-Gen. Hamid Gul, the former chief of the Pakistani military's all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The senior journalist added that Pakistani anti-Americanism is also rooted in the way Muslim societies across the world view America as an enemy of Islam, noting that Pakistan's ideology was never close to the hegemon, the U.S., it supported over the years.

Following are excerpts from the article:[1]

"Spearheaded By the [Pakistan] Army Through Its Articulate Retired Generals, the Two Types of Anti-Americanism can Be Called Aslambegian (Secular) And Hamidgulian (Ideological)"

"With the unfolding of the Raymond Davis case in Lahore, Pakistan finds itself at the edge of taking a fundamental decision about the conduct of its internal and external policies. The case also signals a new peak in Pakistan's anti-Americanism, in both secular-liberal and ideological quarters. Spearheaded by the army through its articulate retired generals, the two types of anti-Americanism can be called Aslambegian (secular) and Hamidgulian (ideological).[2]

"What is in retreat is the realist or pragmatic school of thought that weak states lean on to avoid implosion in the wake of external punishment. Pakistan could be at the crossroads of breaking away from its long partnership with a hegemonic power [the United States]. There is a lot of literature available on hegemons in history, critical when described by the Left, but positive when described by the realist school of thought. Hegemons have been held up in power because of the pax they provide, especially to the weaker states...

"Anti-Americanism all over the world is actually hatred of the hegemon. The Roman Empire, lasting almost a thousand years, was brought down by the 'hating neighbors,' by less civilized Vandals and Visigoths, to initiate a period of chaos.

"The 700-year long Ottoman Empire was similarly brought down by its haters in the West and the Arab world without subsequently improving the region it ruled. The failure of the post-colonial state in Africa and the Middle East also points to the negative fallout from the end of the British Empire.

"According to Deepak Lal, professor of development economics... in his book In Defence of Empires (2004): 'The major argument in favour of empires is that, through their pax, they provide the most basic of public goods – order – in an anarchical international society of states.' He observes that empires have unfairly gotten a bad name, not least in U.S. domestic politics. This is particularly unfortunate, he thinks, as the world needs an American pax to provide both global peace and prosperity..."

"The Next Global Power [Pakistan] Wants to Shift to After America – China - is Equally a Stranger to Pakistan's Ideology"

"It was the competitive-hegemonic pax of two superpowers that shored up Pakistan's military power against India after 1947 and prevented it from adopting a realist posture in South Asia. The anti-Americanism of the Pakistan Army stems from the changes in American policy towards India and a clash between Pakistan's regional concerns and America's global interests. Pakistan was never ideologically close to the hegemon it supported; the next global power it wants to shift to after America, China, is equally a stranger to Pakistan's ideology...

America's 'realism' in foreign policy has alienated the Pakistani generals. Francis Fukuyama, in his book After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads (2007), outlines four approaches in American policy: 1) Realism in the tradition of Henry Kissinger that respects power and tends to downplay the internal nature of other regimes and human rights concerns; 2) liberal internationalism that transcends power politics altogether and moves to an international order based on law and institutions;

"3) Jacksonian American nationalism that tends to take a narrow, security-related view of American national interests, distrusts multilateralism and tend towards nativism and isolationism in its more extreme manifestation; and 4) Neoconservatism which speaks from a moral platform and justifies pre-emption, regime change, unilateralism and benevolent hegemony in foreign policy.

"The people in Pakistan hate America the same way as the rest of the Islamic world on the basis of a flawed interpretation of world affairs... [which] says 'America is an enemy of Islam.' A recall of the Crusades at the beginning of the second millennium – a dismal failure – falls in this category..."

"The Power of External Funding [in Fueling Anti-Americanism] Cannot Be Ruled Out"

"Why do Muslims hate America? According to one source, the following reasons are responsible for this hatred. Historical grievances (the Crusades, the end of the Caliphate, the establishment of the state of Israel, imperialism/colonialism); extremist ideology (ultraconservative worldview, anti-modernity, use of Sharia law versus secularism, interpretation of offensive Jihad in the Koran and the negative view of non-Muslims); globalization (Westernization, Americanization, modernization, economic disparity, emergence of mass media, insufficient integration in Western societies).

"Then comes the matter of authoritarian Muslim governments (use of elements of secularism, failed political and economic models, support from Western governments, failure to achieve progress on Israeli-Palestinian issue, corruption, lack of good governance); non-Muslim rule or Western military presence in Islamist lands (Israel-Palestinian conflict, Afghan-Soviet War, the Iraq Gulf War 1991 and subsequent sanctions, US troops in Saudi Arabia, war in Iraq and Afghanistan)...

"The power of external funding [in fueling anti-Americanism] cannot be ruled out. External funding of Islamist extremism (global funding of the conservative Wahhabi brand of Islam (fuelled by petrodollars), radical madrassas in Pakistan and the growth of radical Islamist networks (to include on the internet)); and U.S. policies (support to Israel, the Gulf War and subsequent sanctions against Iraq, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drone attacks in Pakistan, and the suspension of international legal norms (e.g., Guantanamo and the operation of secret prisons) and the perceived use of torture (e.g., water boarding and Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses)).

"The tendency of the state to start acting like a human being by placing sense of honor before the interest of the state is a prominent trait of the state of Pakistan these days. Increasingly the rhetoric of the man in the street is adopted by state functionaries and politicians. Sense of honor is a highly emotive instinct and endangers policies formulated on the basis of pragmatic wisdom..."

"Every Time an Attack by Taliban... is Reported the State Functionaries Blame It on 'Unfriendly Foreign Hand'"

"The most outstanding reason for hating America is embedded in the state-supported campaign of interpreting Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorism in Pakistan. Every time an attack by Taliban on the civilian population is reported the state functionaries blame it on 'unfriendly foreign hand' and quite often the hyphenated reference to America together with India and Israel is also made. The reference to India as primal enemy is absorbed as a part of textbook indoctrination; the reference to Israel is made to add conviction to the charge on the basis of the roots of anti-Americanism described above; and America emerges as the bigger villain because it supports and nurtures both the regional enemy (India) and the global-Islamic enemy (Israel).

The India-centric nature of this condemnation of the U.S. is quite obvious. The Pakistan Army looks at Afghanistan as a region where India can challenge Pakistan, given the anti-Pakistan irredentist outlook of the Pashtun in Afghanistan; at the same time it strikes at the root of the doctrine of 'strategic depth' that Pakistan Army seeks against India in Afghanistan.

"America has not accepted Pakistan's stance that all decisions pertaining to the future order in Afghanistan be taken in consultation with Pakistan; in other words, Pakistan must reserve the right on the basis of its security interests to see that Afghanistan is not made a cockpit of intrigue against Pakistan. The American refusal to accept this position – because of Pakistan Army's reluctance to fully accept Al-Qaeda and Taliban as enemies – leads to its vilification..."


[1] The Friday Times (Pakistan), February 18-24, 2011. The text of the article has been mildly edited for clarity.

[2] Aslambegian refers to former Pakistan Army chief General Aslam Beg and Hamidgulian refers to Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistan Army's Inter-Services Intelligenc

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