Opposition to U.S. policy in Pakistan is focused on three issues: a) our support for the Pakistani military as it intervenes in Pakistani politics, especially our backing of General Pervez Musharraf, the recently removed military leader; b) our unrealistic expectation that Pakistan’s army can control Islamist militants in its border regions without corresponding political reforms and economic progress in those areas and throughout the country; and c) our condemnation of Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and missile development programs, which are seen by most Pakistanis as emblems of their sovereignty. Pakistan is facing great economic stress, including rising food prices, energy shortages, trade deficits, and the high cost of its military. There are equally important and neglected social issues, including deficiencies in education and public health and in the status of women.
In Pakistan, we heard conflicting assessments of relations with India. By many accounts, there is a possibility of greater cooperation and peace between the two countries, which have fought three wars since 1947, but this opening needs reinforcement. At the same time, several interviewees suggested that, once the war on terrorism winds down, Washington’s dominant interest in strengthening ties with India will work to Pakistan’s long-term disadvantage.