Omar Waraich: Helping America is a tough sell in this part of the world

Share
Related Topics

Hillary Clinton reached into her wardrobe for the colours of Pakistan's flag for her first visit as Secretary of State. On top of a green pantsuit, her neck was wreathed in alternating white and green stones. But Mrs Clinton will encounter many Pakistanis who are unmoved by her sartorial taste, or her just as carefully chosen words. So deep is the trust deficit between the two allies that 80 per cent of Pakistanis oppose their country's co-operation with the US, according to a recent poll.

Washington wants Pakistan to do more against militants. Rankled Pakistanis point to the heavy price they are paying already. Just hours after Mrs Clinton arrived, the biggest bomb in two years killed nearly 100 people at a crowded women's marketplace in Peshawar.

Pakistan's military, opposition politicians, and commentators have been thundering at what they termed "humiliating" conditions attached to an aid Bill recently passed by Congress. They bristle at suggestions Pakistan may still be involved in exporting violence, and don't seem to trust pro-American President Asif Ali Zardari to oversee the military.

Completing the backdrop are objections to US airstrikes targeting militants in the tribal areas, nervousness at Washington's build-up in Afghanistan on one border and its closer relationship with rival India on the other, while potent conspiracy theories even claim the US wants to seize Pakistan's nukes.

Mrs Clinton will find it hard to shift those attitudes. The current ground offensive in South Waziristan signals a hardening of Pakistani resolve against the militants based there who pose a direct threat to Pakistan. But there are few signs that Pakistan is prepared to take on those militants who use its territory as a staging ground for cross-border attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan. Most notably, Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban, whom Western officials suspect are based around Quetta city.

Breaking with Washington's tradition of boosting Pakistan's dictators in return for security gains, the Obama administration is now pursuing a broader approach: supporting its fledgling democracy and ailing energy sector.

And yet, Mr Zardari's government has grown so unpopular that it is widely accused of fecklessness and corruption. Just as with Pervez Musharraf before him, the White House finds itself backing a leader who is seen as too weak to deliver, for either country.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory