The Corner

Pakistan: The Contradiction

Mainstream media treatments of Pakistan continue to be riven by a glaring contradiction. On the one hand, the media acknowledges that Musharraf’s cooperation with the U.S. against terrorists has driven down his popularity with Pakistan’s people. On the other hand, the media wants to believe that this same public, via democracy, will somehow create a government dedicated to fighting terrorism. The contradiction is particularly evident in this piece from Time, “A Blow Against al-Qaeda–and Musharraf.”

According to Time, Musharraf will be blamed by the public for feeding the U.S. intelligence that allowed a predator drone to kill al-Qaeda’s number three operative. But somehow this is not supposed to mean that Pakistan’s public opposes the war on terror. To prove the point, as usual, the media quotes a Pakistani analyst who knows how to manipulate American readers:

It would be erroneous to draw any conclusions from public criticism against Musharraf for letting in U.S. forces. In the greater context, there is a lack of trust between the people of Pakistan and Musharraf’s government. Because of his lack of political legitimacy there is bound to be criticism, but that does not mean that Pakistanis do not want terrorists to be stopped.

This is nonsense. Anger at America’s war on terror isn’t going to go away if Musharraf passes from the political scene. Nawaz Sharif is already playing to this anger in his campaign and Imran Khan has is hard at work manipulating American pundits and Democratic senators, despite his strongly stated opposition to America’s war on terror. The public in Pakistan wants America to stop hunting terrorists in the tribal regions, and almost surely favors a NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan.  That is why “democracy” in Pakistan is not going to solve our problems there.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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