The New York Times - Getting Pakistan Wrong
Wajiha Ahmed, Huffington Post, December 11, 2009
In her December 5, 2009 New York Times article, reporter Sabrina Tavernise looks to history to explain why many Pakistanis are so critical of America. Unfortunately, Tavernise looks to the wrong history, focusing on Pakistan's trauma after the partition with India. Instead, she should have focused on US support for successive Pakistani military dictatorships.
No doubt, as Tavernise highlights, there are conspiracy theorists in Pakistan, and criticizing America can be a powerful tool to elicit populist support. However, Tavernise's analysis ignores very real grievances regarding American interference in the country.
It is worth noting that the last US-supported military dictator, General Musharraf, left the stage less than a year and a half ago. He allowed the Taliban to fester, ignored burgeoning economic problems, and institutionalized the military's illegal hold over governance. It is easy to forget that Musharraf's reign was the third period of U.S.-supported dictatorship in Pakistani history.
The point is that while some Pakistanis might subscribe to outrageous theories, it is disingenuous to paint such a simplistic picture of the vast majority of Pakistanis. Tavernise's report that Pakistan's media outlets "trumpet" conspiracy theories is incomplete. Even a quick skim of major Pakistani television networks and newspapers reveals a robust national debate.
In this debate, many Pakistani commentators place blame squarely on the Pakistani government for failing to protect its citizens. These commentators also blame Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies for past support of militant organizations.
Tavernise's article isn't the only example of problematic Pakistan analysis at the New York Times. There is also Scott Shane's December 4, 2009 piece, "C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan." Shane's piece deprives American readers of an opportunity to truly evaluate U.S. drone missile attacks.
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