A recently commissioned BBC poll took the American election abroad, and although no states in Central Asia were surveyed, India, Pakistan, and China were featured. According to the BBC, they found that in 20 out of 21 countries, Obama was preferred over Romney, and that only Pakistan preferred Romney. Although the polling took place before the final presidential debate, perhaps Pakistan always knew that a President Romney wouldn’t divorce them.
But the story isn’t that simple; to be accurate, 75% of the 2375 Pakistanis surveyed have no opinion about the US election, which is more in keeping with the Pew findings last summer that 74% find the U.S. as an enemy.
Much of that animosity is drawn from U.S. actions both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal territories, to include drone strikes. But Pakistan is undoubtedly faced with serious issues; sectarian violence is a continuing tragedy, gender relations, according to a recent World Economic Forum study (which also has stats for the rest of CA, Mongolia holding the best score) are now at an all-time low (134th out of 135, better than only Yemen), and tourism is… in trouble.
Pakistan’s trajectory is alarming, especially for its immediate neighbors, but also for the rest of Central Asia. While the IMU may be done as a force (even by Uzbekistan’s admission), Pakistan has the capacity to play host to a number of other terror networks. Trade routes through the region linking CA to the port at Karachi will now have to contend with not only a destable Afghanistan, but an insecure Pakistan as well.
The drone strikes in Pakistani territory by the U.S. are unlikely to stop according to a recent Washington Post series. As long as Pakistani politicians use the strikes (as the TTP did to excuse their shooting of a 14 year old girl) as a way to whip up public opinion, the larger issues of domestic terrorism, communal tension, struggling social services, and corruption will fester, and Pakistan will further isolate itself from the legitimate world stage. One hopes the 75% of respondents in Pakistan don’t care who the next U.S. president will be because they have more immediate, domestic concerns on their minds.