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War on Terror, Foreign Policy Affect Pakistani Views of U.S.

In the last installment in a series of reports from Pakistan, Margaret Warner talks with Pakistanis about their views on the United States and the two countries' political ties.

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    Now, the last of Margaret Warner's reports from Pakistan. She looks at Pakistani attitudes toward the United States. For the record, it was completed before that Osama bin Laden tape was released.


    Every day, Pakistanis form long lines at this office in downtown Islamabad. They're waiting to drop off documents to be forwarded to the U.S. consulate nearby. The quest for visas to visit the United States and green cards to live there is undiminished in Pakistan, despite tensions in the relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

    American fast food joints are ubiquitous here. The Golden Arches, Colonel Sanders, stuffed crust pizzas, they're all popular with Pakistani diners. Popular, too, we were told, are the latest American political tomes to hit the bookstores; works by former CIA Director George Tenet, Senator Hillary Clinton, and about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are all on prominent display.

    As we traveled the country, we found that people are happy to talk about the United States, and many are eager to correct what they believe are American misperceptions about Pakistan and Pakistanis.

    On Food Street in Lahore, for example, one diner wanted NewsHour viewers to better understand his country. Asghar Hussein works for a U.S. bank in the city.

  • ASGHAR HUSSEIN, Bank Sales Manager:

    Please, all Americans who think that Pakistanis are terrorists, this is not the right thing. Some are saying … and some are saying it's a terrorist country in the United States, but let me tell you one thing, that the majority of people here are liberal. They want Pakistan to grow with the help of the United States and other countries.


    Pakistanis from all walks of life have told us they resent U.S. criticism of their country, especially the assertion that Pakistan isn't doing enough in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism. In a Karachi cigar bar where jazz is piped in live from Chicago, we spoke with businessman Hamid Ali Khan.

  • HAMID ALI KHAN, Owner, Club Havana:

    I think it really offends us, because we've made — our armed forces have made terrific sacrifices in those areas, really, really terrific sacrifices. And to hear that, you know, we're really not doing all that much in the hunt for al-Qaida and so on and so forth, it really is very, very disappointing.


    At the headquarters of GEO, Pakistan's most successful private television network, we heard a similar message from company president Imran Aslam.

  • IMRAN ASLAM, President, GEO Television:

    It's that kind of relationship, you know, that we are bound in a marriage maybe of convenience, but it's a constant goading to go out there, do more, you know, go and kill your own people because they might be harboring terrorists. And now the Pakistan army has gone in there at the behest of American goading. And I think it hasn't gone down too well, and we've suffered losses.


    And we've heard the same from senior figures in the Pakistani government, including, just before we left the states, the governor of Balochistan, the southwestern province on the Afghan border that is in the eye of the war on terror storm.

    OWAIS AHMED GHANI, Governor of Balochistan: There is, you know, a certain thinking, line of thinking in the West that is to keep Pakistan under pressure so that it can deliver more. What the world doesn't realize, that it is Pakistan's desperate need for Afghanistan to stabilize, terrorism to be eliminated from that region. There's been a price to pay. We have lost soldiers; we have lost men. There's an economic price to pay; yet nobody appreciates it.

  • CHAUDHRY NISAR ALI KHAN, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz:

    The people of Pakistan are not the enemies of the United States of America.