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Anti-Americansim: Time to Make it Unfashionable

When I first learned that the suspect in an incident to set off a bomb in Times Square was Pakistani, my reaction was somewhat jaded. Most of us Pakistanis living here in the United States have become accustomed to the unflattering amount of attention given to our country of birth. Perhaps as a sign of the times, I have found that I no longer need to pronounce “Pakistan” in an American accent. Everyone here knows Pakistan well – and not for reasons that elicit pride.

Nonetheless, many of us were surprised to read about the background profile of Faisal Shahzad. He was young, educated and socially assimilated. For someone who had taken advantage of a standard of living and educational opportunities afforded to very few people in the world, he seemed like an unlikely candidate to bite the same hand that fed him.

Unfortunately, if Faisal Shahzad wanted to find legitimacy in his actions, he did not need to go to the far flung tribal regions of Pakistan to find it. In each visit back home to Pakistan, I have found that anti-American sentiment has become increasingly embedded, part and parcel, in the mainstream culture of Pakistan. We propagate anti-Americanism at dinner tables and casually sprout conspiracy theories, couched in a mixture of facts and urban myth, that blame even the load shedding on the CIA. Blaming our ills on the Americans has become fashionable.

This culture of anti-Americanism, inflamed by the media and mainstream society, is doing something far worse than encouraging new terrorists: it is alienating one of the few real opportunities the country has had to rebuild its future. For perhaps the first time in the country’s history, the people of the world are genuinely focused on developing the economic and social sectors of the Pakistan. Perhaps as a result of the new administration here in the United States, the perception of what causes terrorism has also shifted. Americans, along with the rest of the world, now “get it” – the root cause of terrorism is poverty and lack of education. Build schools, create jobs and offer opportunities, and people will be less inclined to advocate destruction.

To that end, a developing Pakistan is in the best interests of the United States, and both the government and average Americans have launched several initiatives to ensure that capital is properly deployed to fuel development in the country. Even for the private sector, Pakistan offers large untapped markets for investments and a large middle class of consumers, much like China and India have already offered to large multi-national corporations. People realize that a country as large and diverse as Pakistan can not just be left to linger in the abyss.

In that light, the Americans have showed up on our doorstep to help – and we seem to want to turn them away. Why?

First, we may be once bitten, twice shy. History has taught us that the Americans will only help us if it is in their own interest. This is true of every country, including our own, and it is no different this time. But why can’t we share in a quid pro quo of mutually beneficial interests? Whatever the United States’ policy has been or may be with respect to other countries in the world, it has made several ostensible gestures to show that, this time around, it must be committed to the long term development of Pakistan.

More importantly, Pakistanis living here in the United States are working tirelessly at the grassroots levels to raise funds and investments for Pakistan’s social sectors, through dozens of new non-profit organizations. Without the support of Pakistanis back home, the positive branding of these fund raising efforts becomes less compelling. Recently, at the behest of the Obama administration, several Pakistanis launched the new American Pakistan Foundation, aimed at strategically deploying capital for Pakistan’s long term development. The keynote speakers at the inaugural event of the new foundation included the organization’s key benefactors: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. With that level of commitment, the least we can do is meet them half way.

Secondly, many of us, especially those who land at American borders with a green passport, have a perception that Americans think of all Pakistanis as terrorists. Even if this is true, can we blame them? Most of the international incidents involving terrorist acts in the last few years have been linked back to Pakistan. If an American were to attempt to bomb a crowded street in Karachi, I can assure you that being treated differently would be the least of the worries of any American who attempted to visit Pakistan again.

Third, we tend to view American society as dissimilar to our own. In fact, the central tenets of American society – justice, civility and equality – are similar to the tenets that the founder of a country once preached to a young nation that was destined for greatness. It is that very culture of meritocracy which has allowed many Pakistanis to become one of the most successful minority communities in the United States. If we could only emulate that culture of meritocracy in Pakistan, it would just be a matter of time before the natural talents and diversity of Pakistan would manifest itself.

In that vein, much of the anti-American sentiment imbedded in our culture seems farcical. I offer this opinion not as an American patriot, but as a concerned Pakistani who sees the palpable effort being expended here in the name of our future as a nation. Every time a Faisal Shahzad finds legitimacy to his actions in, of all places, our mainstream culture, we are closer to driving away that knock of opportunity sitting at our doorstep. Once it is gone, I am not so sure we will find it again.

Let us unite in our common sense of reason and drop the pretense of anti-Americanism. Let us ensure that next time one of our own thinks about killing innocent civilians in a crowded city, he will have to consider facing the collective wrath of 170 million Pakistanis.

Faraz Rana is a corporate lawyer based in New York City and provides pro bono legal services to several organizations aimed at raising funds for Pakistani causes. He can be reached [email protected]


39 Comments

  • Reply Adnan Siddiqi |

    The author, who is in USA, is more concerned about his own ass than Pakistan.

    Did he ever try to find out the reasons behind anti-Americanism? and Hey! this is not only Pakistan where people despise it, it's a world-wide phenomenon.

    And by the way, people despite US polices rather than Americans. A Big difference.

    • Alfred E. Neuman |

      So the great difficulties faced by the american muslims preserving their image and standing in the american community are greater than those faced by the hundreds of thousands of muslims killed tortured maimed by the US ably funded with tax dollars from loyal Pakistani american corporate lawyers?

    • ali hamdani |

      @adnansiddique. We should have more open minds. We should see on one side theTaliban keep ruining our country and the other hand USA helps us with assistance. If we people used that assistance without corruption we would have been like malyasia today. We have many faults in ourselvses mr. Adnan rather than pointing on others.

    • Adnan Khan |

      @Alfred E. Neuman: Have you heard of Punctuation?

    • Al |

      @Ali Hamdani: Our policy makers are as much to blame for the assorted militants running crazy around the country but please get over your obsession with America. It is not helping us in anyway – by 'us' i mean ordinary Pakistanis. It is only helping the ruling political & military elite to further its interests. In fact this whole mess is a direct result of the occupation in Afghanistan.

      And to the author: This anti-americanism is all over the muslim world & a number of other countries as well. In fact according to some surveys, in Turkey which is much more developed than we are and which is a bigger ally of the US than we are, anti-americanism is even greater than in Pakistan.

    • Aamir Mughal |

      Al says: = May 19, 2010 at 9:45 am @Ali Hamdani: Our policy makers are as much to blame for the assorted militants running crazy around the country but please get over your obsession with America.

      =======================

      USA and Pakistani Establishment cannot be absolved from the present violent mess in Pakistan wave of Anti Americanism amongst Muslims all around the globe. If we closely analyse the characters involved in the whole scenario then we may find that many leading US Figures [Reagan Administration and Later Bush Senior/Junior Administration] were the Central Figures during Afghan War are also in the forefront in Alleged War On Terror. For kind perusal and keeping the record straight: Ronald Reagan, Afghan Mujahideen, Talibans & Royal Mess. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2010/03/ronald-r

    • Maham Shahid |

      i think that you're completely right Mr. Adnan Siddiqi. The author really thinks that America is 'supporting' pakistan and wants to help us!! that is biggest bullshit i've ever heard!! TO the author: theres a reason for our hatred towards America and you should find out that before showing your love for America!!

  • Reply Nadir El Edroos |

    The more we indulge ourselves in rhetoric and emotive responses in the form of "Anti-Americanism" the more it is loosing its effectiveness.

    Negative perceptions of the US has no sway over US foreign policy. Its a given that whether America pours billions into Pakistan, or whether it launches drone strikes, Pakistanis are going to place the blame for all of our miseries at America's doorstep.

    While we should encourage criticism based on policy and rationality, empty threats, street protests where we do more harm to Pakistani property than America, claims of malicious and maligned conspiracies etc, goes to show how we refuse to take responsibility for our country on the one hand, and are quite hypocritical on the other.

    While we "hate" America for its actions, we also "hate" it for not flooding our nation with dollars, giving us more weapons and not pushing India on Kashmir.

    I am far from being pro-American, but if we really want to wash our hands off America, then at the very least we should start by paying our taxes so that we are not dependent on American aid.

    We are facing a Rs. 900 Billion budget deficit in the coming financial year. Any guesses whose going to fill the gap? The US, its allies and multi-lateral organizations in which the US has the most influence.

    Anyways, in short – we despise American interference and influence, yet we ourselves are responsible for creating the circumstance that allows for that interference and influence to continue.

    • jibran |

      I am far from being pro-American….

      LOL,….Loll, lolll

  • Reply Zia |

    Mr. Shahzad and his ilk can burn in hell, no Pakistani is sympathetic to his cause and actions. But basis for anti-americanism is something else.

    Crude targeted assassinations by drones have killed 3000 innocent citizens and has only managed to kill 30 members of al-qaida, if that. Try stopping this brutal non-sense on the part of the USA. Your blogs of outrage will have no effect in quelling the anti-americanism.

    Of course you can have your new country wipe out Pakistan by the thousands of weapons of mass destruction which they posses. That probably will solve the problem you are having.

    • Aamir Mughal |

      But basis for anti-americanism is something else.

      ==================

      Anti Americanism is only because of wrong US Foreign Policies in the 3rd World.

  • Reply S.A.R.A |

    This article looks more like a job application for a CIA Agent. A Lawyer aye? Sorry not convinced, even though logic I can agree with!

  • Reply nomi |

    Time to Make it Unfashionable?
    This article seems like one of the goals CIA has achieved through Faisal Fiasco. They have terrified their own countrymen enough using 9/11. Now they are after Pakistanis.

    • M.S |

      hahaha nice reply!!they're scared shitless cause of us, and damn i'm loving it!!

  • Reply Joe Giglio |

    Yo fraz, you pakistanian mozlem terrorist enjoying a high in our land. You think by writing a few articles against terrorists you can prove your loyalty to the US? Facts is that Pakistanis have been caught with their pants down. We know who you really are. You Pakistanians and mozlems should me made to go fight in afghanistan and iraq against the terrorists to prove your loyalty. Words mean nothing. Are you ready to fight for us against the terrorists?

    • Moz |

      Agreed 100%.

      Yeah, and listen dumbass. Stop begging like dogs for aid all the time.

    • M.S |

      And who's begging from YOU?!! All you 'emaricaanz' are suffering from inferiority complex and since we're oh so important for you , go on stalk us!! we just love your 'defensive' replies…it shows how important we are to you!! and atleast we have enough guts to be 'terrorists' unlike you who cant even learn to spell 'muslims' much less talk about them!! so you'd rather attend your grammer class first then talk crap.

  • Reply Awamee_Shair |

    Anti-Americansim: Time to Make it Unfashionable

    Yes, I thihnk we should tell all Pakistanis to say "Rahmmat ullah" every time some one says the word "AMREEKA". I think our Army should enforce it. I bet they are doing it.

    Mast rah mastt apneee masteee main,

    mattt jaaa gheron keee basteee main,

    maan kee ch@#$t uss basteee kee,

    jahan qadar nahee iss hastee kee.

  • Reply Sakib Ahmad |

    This abysmal attempt by a "Paki" in the USA to suck up to the Americans ought not to have been published. Pakistanis in the UK think differently, as you can see here:

    http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/05/british-ge

    As for the unfortunate Faisal Shahzad, this story is the biggest political joke of the moment – and it shows the depths to which the Americans can sink to weave conspiracy theories about Pakistan. Pakistan's Urdu language press has dealt with the story with the contempt it deserves. A large part of the English language press, populated as it is with American lackeys, has churned out the usual self-deprecating platitudes. Not so our self-respecting journalists writing in the English press. The hammer blow from 'The Nation' you would expect. Here is a subtle jibe at the Americans by Dr Farrukh Saleem:

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=239

    • Moz |

      British Pakis are the biggest idiots. Those aholes actually blew up underground trains. 80% of the terrorist threats in Britain come from Pakistan. No wonder why Pakis in U.K think differently. They hate everything, and hate their own country. British Pakis are a dirt that comes out of Pakistan.

    • M.S |

      Really moz!! and you know that cause they called you up before or after blowing up the whatever it was…you really seem intuned to what'pakis' are blasting up!! hmmm i wonder why??!! Maybe because you're the one forcing them to do that…hmmmm i think its time emaricaanz should start using their small small and really tiny minds!!

  • Reply JJ |

    The US is seeking to steal and destroy Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. This is one of the American goals. What happened in New York 2 weeks ago is being used by the US to get world authorization to destroy the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. What happened in New York was world-wide front page story for weeks and is still alive in the press. hmmmmmm "Let's get the world to authorize what we are already planning to do."

    Not once have the US drone attacks that have killed thousands of innocents been on the front page of the world-press. NOT ONCE. So, maybe it is time for the US to leave South Asia.

    • Moz |

      So did they attack Pakistan's mighty nuclear weapons?

    • Salman |

      @JJ: I totally agree with what you said. This all drama is taking place to get rid of Pak's nuclear weapons – which are a direct threat to Israel, and Americans move where Israel's dick points to.

      Look at the pattern of events:

      1. We never had any issue in Pakistan.

      2. Then we started having terrorists in tribal areas

      3. Then we had the terrorists taking over Swat

      4. Then they form a new brand of taliban called "Tehrik-e-Taliban"

      5. Then they enter Punjab and now called "Punjabi Taliban" by our fucked ministers.

      6. Perception is created world over by media giants that Pakistan is being taken over by Taliban and is no longer safe.

      7. This is yet to happen: After some time, world will push pakistan to let go of its nukes or face sanctions.

      Fuck the liars of the world. Pakistanis, please wake up, improve yourself, be independent, make the world dependent on us, we have everything! We have natural resources, we have skilled man power, we have everything to boost our economy, decrease / eliminate import, increase export, and we will soon be on top again. It is all still possible, please start working in your own capacity to build a better culture around you. Sort opportunities where you can rely totally on local products, and strive hard to improve them.

  • Reply Adnan Khan |

    "this time around, it must be committed to the long term development of Pakistan."

    Really? How did you figure that out?

  • Reply John |

    As for the unfortunate Faisal Shahzad, this story is the biggest political joke of the moment – and it shows the depths to which the Americans can sink to weave conspiracy theories about Pakistan. Pakistan’s Urdu language press has dealt with the story with the contempt it deserves. A large part of the English language press, populated as it is with American lackeys, has churned out the usual self-deprecating platitudes. Not so our self-respecting journalists writing in the English press. The hammer blow from ‘The Nation’ you would expect. Here is a subtle jibe at the Americans by Dr Farrukh Saleem:
    +1

  • Reply Nadir El Edroos |

    It seems that being a patriotic Pakistani has come down to being:

    anti-American

    anti-Israel

    anti-India

    We are defined not by what we are, but by what we are not!

    No one is arguing that American actions vis a vis drone attacks is illegal and unacceptable, however the fault is ours. We spend our time obssesing and chewing out America! Great! My favourite past-time, but alteast the US government is acting in a manner that it thinks is serving its citizens in the best manner.

    What is our government doing about it? We as Pakistanis are powerless to influence American actions. However, we should be empowered to influence our own governments actions. We have a political government that has no choice but to subjugate itself to foreign diktats, and a military that is actively cooperating and approves the same drone strikes that everyone is complaining about.

    Since its treason to criticize the Army, and no everyone agrees that our government is impotent all that we are left with is impotent rage.

    If the author is expressing an opinion, that dosnt make him a CIA agent or a traitor. For everyone concerned about our nuclear arsenal, our economy, our civilians who are victims of terrorist activities, ask the government, the military and the "establishment" why they are allowing America to act in a belligerent manner?

    They are our representatives; and are supposed to function and act for our betterment, politicians, generals or bureaucrats, and the fact that all of us are critical of foreign interference, while they are happy to cooperate in the killing of innocent Pakistani's is a poor reflection on us as a nation, not of America.

    • Sakib Ahmad |

      Nadir El Edroos Sahib!

      In your post you use the term "we as Pakistanis", so I'll accept that you are a Pakistani though it would be difficult to work that out from your post. Are you not aware that hardly a day goes by without highly critical articles being published in the Pakistani press castigating our politicians, our government, our military and, indeed, the Pakistani public which thinks nothing of electing thugs and fraudsters such as Jamshed Dasti to National Assembly? It is a well known fact that our government is packed with convicts, criminals and looters of national wealth. Equally well known are the machinations of external powers, headed by the USA government, who enabled this National Robbers Organisation (NRO) to wield power under the smokescreen of "democracy".

      What you seem to be arguing is that it is OK to criticise the puppets who have been placed in seats of power but it is wrong to strike at the hands that lifted the puppets on to those seats. Funny logic that.

      We Pakistanis are the victims of the enormous power of American propaganda, which has robbed us of the capacity to distinguish between Reality and Illusion.

  • Reply Zulfiqar Haider |

    The author has very rightly pointed out that it’s becoming a trend in our country to pass anti-American sentiments; this is wrong and especially in case of Faisal Shehzad, who enjoyed all the facilities in US and then thought of hurting the innocent civilians in Times Square.

  • Reply Sadia Hussain |

    It is doctrine of Pakistani establishment to utilize the U.S aid to maximum but never acknowledge their positive role in our development. From our military muscle, dams or even the wheat that we eat comes from U.S assistance. This duplicity is deplorable for we need to work with our allies rather than seeking comfort in bizarre conspiracy theories.

  • Reply Nazia |

    Anti Americanism sentiments????

    If you want to see the real picture go and see the long queues of Muslims in front of US embassies in their countries for getting US visas.

    If you want to REVIEW further enlightened version of anti Americanism then read the quoted versions of our ministries like foreign, finance and defense.

    Se the helpless situation of our trained air force and border forces who have no courage to stop drone and missile attacks on our mountains.

    In a big parliament of Pakistan all become deaf and dumb after each drone attack on Pakistani civilians or if Clinton and other US officials send warnings to Pak officials.

    Oh yes this this sentiment is very prominent in clubs of Islamic clerics and parties who once joined hands with US for producing Islamic militancy on our controversial land and labeled us as as an exporter of terrorism in the world.

  • Reply Awamee_Shair |

    Ghulamee Mufakkir:

    ghulamee sai hotey hain afkar muta-ssir,

    ghulamon main hotey hain ghulam mufakkir,

    jis qaum nai naa dekhee ho aazadee,

    uss qaum main paida ghulaam mufakkir

    hoee andheree raaat lambee itnee,

    kah dheron hoGaey ghulaam mufakkir,

    andhereee raat sai hain manoos aisey,

    dartey hain yai ujaley sai,

    Ghulamee ko khushQismatee kahtey hain,

    Isee ko rah-e-raast kahtey hain,

    • Sakib Ahmad |

      Marhaba Awamee_Shair Sahib!

      Hammara asal mas'ala zehni ghulaami hai. Hamei.n jughraafea'ee aazaadi to 1947 mei.n mil ga'yee thee lekin zehni aazaadi shaa'ed Quaid-e-Azam ki vafaat ke ba'd hum se rukhsat ho ga'ee thi. Is ghulaami kii sab se baRi nishaani ye hai ke hum ne ek ghair zuban ko apnay oopar musallat kar ke, apni qaumi zuban ko paa'o.n talay rond diya hai. Zara sochiye, hum khud ko Roosiyo.n aur Cheeniyo.n ke muqabalay mai.n itna kumtar nahei.n samajhtay jitna Amreekiyo.n aur Angrezo.n ke muqabalay mei.n. Meri daanist mei.n us ki vajah ye hai ke hum ne Angrezi zubaan aur Amreeki/Bartaanavi saqaafat ka tauq apnay galay mei'n zabardasti daal rakha hai, jisay hum utaarnay ke liye bilkul tayyaar nahei.n.

      Is mauzoo' pe mai.n bohat kuchh likh chuka hoo.n. Jab aap ko fursat ho, darj-e-zel "link" ko dabaa kar mera mazmoon, aur us par 5 aaraa paRh le.n, inaayet ho gee.

      http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/01/punjab-gov

  • Reply ali hamdani |

    @adnan. Dude why do people get the idea that I am pro American?? I am not at all I just speak the truth. This mess is our own made. It existed before America occupied Afghanistan. We have had Russia,china,india,alqaeeda intervention in our country. Why do we not talk about them?? After America occupied Afg, that was when all these militants came out of their nutshell. Sorry buddy I blame ourselves rather than other country!

  • Reply Nazia |

    Teeth

    why are you erasing my humble and innocent comments in few of topics.

    At least give me note after deleting as guideline so that I wouldn't repeat this mistake of trespassing your limit of objection.

    How could I know your criteria of keeping us in specified limits??

  • Reply Muhammad Aamir Hatif |

    Mr. Rana!

    I have got no idea about, what you are trying to prove here with your absolutely nonsense post.

    Simply, hats off to your attempt of portraying your brutal American Masters as feelers and doers of eradicating entire pains of the world and particularly those of Pakistan. I am sure, your American Masters will be really happy with your performance and you will be rewarded splendidly for demeaning Pakistan and its citizens.

    Just wanna say in the end: F**k off

  • Reply ali hamdani |

    Don’t know much about the policy makers but one thing I know that the terrorists have ruined the economy of the country and now its kneel down like crazy! We must help our country and help the economy of the country so we can prospers. I don’t want to go in details with you guys cuz that just creates chaos and this is time for concrete steps. I respect what you say though is true. I agree.

  • Reply Shoaib |

    Judging from the posts above, I can assume that some feel that anyone who is affiliated to the West, has a shred of admiration for them or any positive feelings towards them suddenly becomes a 'slave to the West'.

    I feel that perhaps we should look at the ground realities. I saw a very fascinating programme on Al Jazeera where an American professor studied the trends of suicide terrorism, and concluded that occupation is a key motivation for individuals to partake in such activities.

    I am of the opinion that the Pakistna Army must regain control of the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province, but military might alone cannot solve our domestic problem. Pakistan must invest in education and development, because realistically, we just want foreign powers to stop making us their pawns and let us simply develop our own nation.

    At the same time, a cohesive diplomatic strategy must be employed in Afghanistan to ensure peace for that nation, without isolating any party, and allowing the Americans to leave.

    As for the conspiracy theories, it may well be true, but I do believe that we as a nation must take care of ourselves and portray ourselves in a postive light to the world.

    One point I wish to make here – we must start taking responsibilities for our own actions. It is not external powers that cause us to stop developing our infrastructure, and it is not external powers that cause ethnic and provincial in-fighting in our cities. It is not external powers that are to blame for our lack of education, and the unfortunate condition of the poorest people in this nation.

    We must do something, all of us, individually to help. When you go out tomorrow, do something that helps another soul. Please. Every small thing helps.

So, what do you think ?