Anti-US protests in Pakistan taking snowball effect: Analyst
Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:47AM
Since the government failed to channelize these sentiments, therefore the people have taken it upon themselves and I'm afraid it is likely to grow even fiercer and even more violent."Press TV has interviewed Mr. Sultan Mahmood Hali, political commentator, about a boiling over of anti-US sentiment that has spread throughout the population of Pakistan. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview. Press TV: I wanted to ask you specifically in the context of Pakistan itself, how much more will this heightened anti-US sentiment get considering anti-US sentiment was already high because of the continuing US drone strikes? Hali: Well I'm afraid it is taking a snowball effect. What started off with some very peaceful demonstrations in Islamabad has now snowballed into a major storm of protest. The main reason for this is because the government of Pakistan should have realized the depth of the sentiments and should have made an official statement not only condemning it, but also summoning the US acting Ambassador in Pakistan and let him know that the people are extremely angry. Since the government failed to channelize these sentiments, therefore the people have taken it upon themselves and I'm afraid it is likely to grow even fiercer and even more violent. Press TV: You say it may grow more violent. Do you believe the government will finally act at some point in time and side with the people? Hali: You see, the government should have done it in the first place because it is the duty of every government to gauge the depth of the sentiment. If it has failed to do that it will be a case of may be too little too late. But still perhaps they may be able to pacify the people. If they show that the government officially condemns it and then the government can probably bring down the tempers by allowing them to have peaceful demonstrations rather than the violent ones. And if they manage to do that and especially if they take the help of religious scholars and opinion builders to make sure that the divide and the sentiments that have been heard are allayed. Press TV: The United States and Pakistan have always had a bit of a contentious relationship especially over these drone strikes etc. How do you think this incident will affect those relations? Hali: Unfortunately the relationship between Pakistan and the US has been at the lowest ebb especially since the attack in Abottabad in which Osama Bin Laden was killed because the government of Pakistan, the agencies of ISI, they were blamed that they were responsible and that they were harboring the leader of al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden. And following that attack… last year really brought things to a heel. But now the relations were at amend. Still, the sentiments with the people run extremely high because the drone attacks have neither reduced nor have they stopped attacking the innocent civilian people, which is causing collateral damage and the people are extremely angry about it.
The government of Pakistan has insisted, because Mark Grossman was in Islamabad over the weekend and it was conveyed to him that the government would like an end to the drone attacks, but apparently the United States considers it a very prudent move and would like to continue with it.Now this particular incident of the film, the blasphemous and atrocious film, the sentiments have reached a peak and are likely to boil over into a volcanic eruption. SC/MA