Terrorist attacks in Pakistan stir anger at U.S.
Nineteen percent of Pakistanis have 'positive' views toward Al Qaeda, according to a BBC poll released Sunday.
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"Look around you," he says, surveying the crowded middle-class bazaar. "If a bomb went off here, where these innocent people are standing, can you imagine how bad it would be?"
Though unequivocal in his view that terrorists are kaffirs (unbelievers), Asghar also has no doubt where the root cause of the recent increase in suicide bombings and other deadly attacks lies: the United States and its military incursions into Pakistan's tribal zones.
In living rooms, tea shops, and TV studios, a debate is raging in the wake of last week's Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing between those who see terrorist acts in Pakistan's towns and cities as "reactive measures" for cross-border strikes by the US into Pakistan's tribal areas and those who believe militants must be strongly condemned for their actions.
"The killing of innocents is forbidden in Islam. Both the Taliban and the Americans are guilty of wrongdoing," says Raza Shahzad, an engineering master's student at Punjab University. But, he adds, "If my home and family was obliterated by a US strike, it might also drive me to take up arms. You can understand it."
This sort of nuanced view is being heard more and more frequently from Pakistanis, illustrating the growing anger here at the Americans for strikes within their borders and also undercutting ill-feeling toward militants even after devastating bomb attacks.
A worldwide survey released by the BBC on Sunday found that Pakistan was among two nations out of 23 – the other being Egypt – where "mixed" or "positive" feelings toward Al Qaeda (22 percent and 19 percent, respectively) outweighed negative feelings (19 percent).
According to polling conducted by the US-funded International Republican Institute in January, 89 percent of Pakistanis did not support the US-led war on terror and that figure dropped marginally to 71 percent in June.
Over the past few months members of the secular upper-middle class (including middle-aged women with Gucci bags and manicured nails) have taken to protesting alongside bearded conservatives outside the US Consulate in Lahore over issues ranging from the US support of former President Pervez Musharraf to the alleged ill-treatment of Afia Siddiqui, the American-educated Pakistani woman detained by the US for alleged links to Al Qaeda, further illustrating how anti-Americanism cannot be tied down to specific demographics or political leanings.