Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why Is Pakistan Unpopular In the United States?

Interesting letter in Dawn that deserves further analysis:

AN article, ‘Unpopular countries’ (March 10), portrays a misleading picture of what ordinary Americans think about certain countries. The Gallup’s 2008 world affairs survey, as it is called, puts Pakistan among 10 most unpopular countries in the US.

A total of 1,007 Americans were interviewed for this survey. This means about 20 people from each state of the US. Is this figure representative of the whole state? Did the survey organisers take into account the ethnicity, age, education, occupation, gender, etc., of the respondents before presenting the results as facts to the unsuspecting recipients of the report?

In addition, how were the questions framed? The report also states that the popular perception endorsed the official US policy as all these countries are also denigrated by the US administration. Is it not the other way round, the administration’s policy being the reason for the development of these ill-feelings against certain countries?
Emphasis is mine.

The writer is right, for the most part, when he says the U.S. government is the driving factor why Americans have ill-feelings against countries branded as unpopular by the survey-- Iran, North Korea, Cuba, etc.

But in the case of Pakistan this does not apply because the Bush Administration has consistently backed Pakistan to the hilt. So the negative perception is not being driven by the Bush Administration, as the writer hints, but by the media, who have often questioned Pakistan's commitment on the war against terrorism, its flirtation with radical Islam, and its anti-democratic nature.