How America Views Pakistan Today

A Visit to a U.S. Ally, but an Increasingly Wary One
By JANE PERLEZ, New York Times, February 9, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — When the envoy Richard C. Holbrooke arrives here Monday looking for ways to stop a runaway Islamist insurgency that is destabilizing Pakistan, he will find a pro-American but weak civilian government, and a powerful army unaccustomed and averse to fighting a domestic enemy.

In a nuclear-armed nation regarded as an ally of the United States and considered pivotal by the Obama administration to ending the war in neighboring Afghanistan, Mr. Holbrooke will face a surge of anti-American sentiment on clear display by private citizens, public officials and increasingly potent television talk shows.

Some remedies offered by his hosts are likely to be unappealing. On almost every front, Pakistani leaders are calling for less American involvement, or at least the appearance of it.

The main reason for the swell in resentment here is the very strategy that the United States government considers its prime success against Al Qaeda: missile strikes delivered by remotely piloted aircraft against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

To the surprise of many Pakistanis, who had been promised by their leaders that the new administration in Washington would be different, American drone aircraft fired missiles at two areas in the tribal belt just three days after President Obama’s inauguration. According to the Pakistanis, as many as 21 civilians were killed by the strikes, in North and South Waziristan.

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