In Pakistan, people see Al Qaeda as an imagined threat, and shadowy U.S. agents as the secret power behind major events. How can the United States forge a better partnership with this country that has become the epicenter of global terrorism?
An American visitor in Pakistan can’t help thinking at times that he has arrived in a parallel universe. Asked about the presence of Al Qaeda on their country’s soil, Pakistanis deny that there is any evidence of it. They lionize A. Q. Khan, who created the country’s nuclear weapons program and sold essential nuclear technology and knowledge to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, and they are incensed by American worries about the security of their country’s nuclear assets. Suicide bombings and political assassinations are near-daily occurrences, yet many Pakistanis are astonishingly complacent about the murderous groups behind them. They rail instead against the government that is powerless to prevent these attacks and an America that would like nothing better than to see an end to them.
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Robert M. Hathaway is the director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia Program. His most recent book is Powering Pakistan: Meeting Pakistan’s Energy Needs in the 21st Century (2009).more from this author >>