More Pakistanis See US as Enemy, Despite Aid

July 3rd, 2012 - by admin

Los Angeles Times – 2012-07-03 00:39:31

ISLAMABAD (June 28, 2012) — In the last couple of years, Washington has earmarked a bigger chunk of its aid to Pakistan for civilian projects, hoping to engender goodwill with the country’s intensely anti-American populace. The latest polling suggests that the strategy hasn’t worked.

About 75 percent of Pakistanis surveyed regard the United States as an enemy, according to a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. That’s actually up more than 10 percent since three years ago, when 64 percent said they viewed America as an enemy.

A key reason for the ongoing ill will appears to be America’s use of drone strikes as a tactic against Islamist militants based in Pakistan. According to the Pew survey, only 17 percent of Pakistanis surveyed said they support the strikes. Pakistanis even appear less willing to back the use of their own military against Islamist extremists. In the new survey, 32 percent supported the use of Pakistani security forces, a sizable drop from 53 percent three years ago.

A growing number of Pakistanis also feel that improving relations with Washington isn’t a major priority, the poll found. Last year, 60 percent of Pakistanis surveyed said strengthening ties with the United States was important; this year only 45 percent said they feel that way.

The United States channels hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic aid to Pakistan every year. Much of that aid is for such civilian needs as limiting Pakistan’s crippling power crisis and improving its weak education system.

Yet about 40 percent of Pakistanis surveyed said they think that US economic and military assistance actually has a negative effect on their country. Only 12 percent said they believe that economic assistance from Washington helps solve Pakistan’s problems.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan are at their lowest point since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. Anger resounds over US air strikes that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, the secret US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the military city of Abbottabad in May 2011, which Pakistanis viewed as a blatant breach of their sovereignty, and the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in the eastern city of Lahore in January 2011.

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