Tuesday September 06, 2016







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USA Should Become Part of Pakistani Discourse

I was in Washington for last few days. During my visit, I had opportunity to meet many State Department officials, think tank scholars and congressmen. I heard one common complaint from all of them about Pakistani media. They complained that Pakistani media was fanning anti Americanism in Pakistan.


I informed them that USA was the target of Pakistani media because USA was not the part of Pakistani discourse.


Many US officials visit Pakistan, but none of them try to participate in Pakistani discourse. Of course, they appear in joint press conferences, they give out interviews to different TV program hosts, but they never sit with Pakistani commentators who participate in talk shows to form or mould Pakistani public opinion.


I explained to them that Pakistani people were very rational people and they would give due consideration to American arguments if they directly hear those arguments from American officials, journalists or intellectuals.


Pakistanis need assurance that United States is not in Afghanistan for the long-haul, USA does not want to destabilize Pakistan; USA does not want to impose Indian will on Pakistan; and USA does not want to undo Pakistanís nuclear program. They also need to know that Al Qaeda and Taliban threat is real and it is in the interest of Pakistan to fight back and eliminate this threat and USA can help in this matter.


The Pakistanis, who try to speak on the behalf of United States, or try to explain US position, immediately become under suspicion and mainstream Pakistan rejects them considering them American agents.


If visiting US officials, journalists and intellectuals start interacting directly with Pakistani media and sit on various Talk Shows and discuss US-Pakistan mutual interests, mutual differences and explain to Talk Show commentators, and through Talk Show commentators to the people of Pakistan, the sincerity of United States, the reasons behind current international activity led by United States in and around Pakistan, Pakistani media and the people of Pakistan will start seeing things from American perspective. Or at least, it will help them understand American perspective.


US will remain the target of Pakistani media as long as it does not become the part of Pakistani discourse. And US cannot become the part of Pakistani discourse until US officials, journalists and intellectuals start participating in media programs that shape Pakistani mainstream opinion.


Moreover, these visiting officials, journalists and intellectuals have to understand the immediate priorities of Pakistanis. For example, many important service sectors are in total disarray in Pakistan. Electricity, roads, education and health care need immediate attention. US is pouring money in Pakistan through unmonitored process. Of course, education is one of the sectors USA is trying to fix through direct investment, but what about electricity? Right now, broken electricity supply system is hitting Pakistan more severely than backward education system. Reliable electric supply is the fundamental requirement which affects almost every other social, economic and political factor of a society.


In order to become part of Pakistani discourse, visiting USA officials, journalists and intellectuals have to play a pivotal role in assuring Pakistanis that USA is not only aware of their concerns about American presence in Afghanistan, their suspicions about American activities in Northern Pakistan, and their qualms about American-Indian nexus in the region, but USA is also aware of their difficulties because of broken infra structure systems such as electricity supply, health care, education and roads.


If USA uses this strategy it will not only help to improve American image in Pakistan it will also improve USA relations with the people of Pakistan. This strategy will transform USA-Pakistan relationship into people to people relationship instead of state to state relations. American Taxpayers dollars will be spent on the projects which directly benefit the people of Pakistan. Consequently, USA will have many more real friends in Pakistan instead of few selfish lackeys who transfer US money to Swiss banks as soon as the money arrives in Pakistani accounts.


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