Pakistanis are used to being disappointed and betrayed by America. For 63 years, the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has oscillated between periods of intense, close alliance usually revolving around large, secret projects and periods of intense, angry animosity centering on sanctions and abandonment. Pakistanis who value democracy are even more used to disappointment and betrayal. Washington has fallen in love with every Pakistani military dictator, and done little to help elected civilian governments cope with the country’s enormous problems.
Now that U.S. President Barack Obama has set July 2011 as the target date for drawing down American forces in Afghanistan, Pakistanis fear abandonment is in the works yet again. No one knows what will happen next year, but Obama will probably not walk away from either Pakistan or Afghanistan. He will, hopefully, broaden engagement instead.
The Pew Research Center survey released in June shows only 17 percent of Pakistanis view the U.S. favorably and just 7 percent want U.S. and NATO troops to maintain presence in neighboring Afghanistan. Poll after poll shows Pakistanis do not believe America is a reliable ally. They are right. For over six decades, the U.S. has had a love/hate relationship with Pakistan.