Pakistan is one of the United States most important allies. The country lies in a region where America is actively at war on at least two fronts, the declared war in Afghanistan, and the undeclared war throughout the region utilizing drone strikes.
Despite the necessity of the relationship between the two countries, there have always been problems. The Obama administration has always suspected that Pakistan is playing both sides, accepting billions of dollars in military aid while subversively supporting the Taliban. That fear was compounded last year when Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s leader, was discovered in a suburb in the country.
The populace of the country has displayed an even greater unease at the alliance between the two powers. There has been suspicion between the United States and the entire Muslim world since the outbreak of the War on Terror. Those problems are becoming worse according to a new research report from Pew Global.
The report, released this morning, has revealed that 74% of Pakistan’s citizen’s see the United States as an enemy, while only 8% of Pakistani’s see the world’s most powerful country as a partner. 12% view the country favourably, while 80% see the United States as unfavourable.
Last year the numbers were not quite as poor. 69% of the country saw America as an enemy, while 73% saw America as unfavourable. The acceleration in the antipathy toward the United States is a poor sign in a country whose government comes under severe political pressure for its alliance.
Interestingly, those who saw thee military aid given by the United States to the government of Pakistan as favourable, first measured this year, was very unfavourable. Just 8% of respondents saw the aid as having a positive impact, while 40% saw it as having a negative one. 37% of respondents did not know the nature of the impact.
On a more positive note, the numbers of Pakistanis who see extremist groups as favourable is also low. Just 13% of respondents saw Al Qaeda as favourable and 13% saw the Taliban as favourable. Both of those numbers are slightly up from last year’s 12%. The numbers offering no opinion on the groups remains around 30% for Al Qaeda and 20% for the Taliban.
59% of respondents see India as a greater threat to Pakistan than either the Taliban or Al Qaeda. 23% see Al Qaeda as the greatest of the three threats. Meanwhile Pakistan’s relationship with China is viewed positively among most of the country’s citizens.
Around 90% of citizens see China as a partner, while only 2% see the country as an enemy. The long standing rivalry between India and China is possibly a motivator in those sentiments.
The United States is clearly making little headway in the country as an ally to the people. Actions by the American government suggest that is not an important goal in their policy there. As long as military aid continues to flow to the country there is little choice but to continue the relationship.
Pakistan and the United States have an alliance based on government level negotiations, and foreign aid. It is not an alliance between two peoples. The numbers from this poll reveal exactly that.