US buys airtime on Pakistani channels to counter 'propaganda'

By AFP
Published: September 21, 2012

Pakistani demonstrators torch a US flag during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Karachi on September 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States has bought time on Pakistani television stations to run a series of adverts in a bid to stem Muslim protests at an amateur anti-Islam film, a US official said Wednesday.

The State Department has spent some $70,000 dollars to air the ad in Urdu across seven Pakistani TV channels in a bid to disassociate the US government from the inflammatory film, spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

“After the video came out there was concern in lots of bodies politic, including in Pakistan, whether this represented the views of the US government,” Nuland told journalists.

“So in order to ensure we reached the largest number of Pakistanis, some 90 million as I understand in this case with these spots, it was the judgment that this was the best way to do it.”

The 30-second ad shows clips of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taken from their speeches made since the violence flared in Muslim nations last week, in which US ambassador to Libya was killed.

It also includes an image of the US seal “to make clear it’s official,” and a notice that they were paid for, although Nuland was uncertain whether the name of the State Department was included.

The aim was “to make sure that the Pakistani people hear the president’s messages and the secretary’s messages,” Nuland said.

Obama is shown saying: “Since our founding the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”

Clinton then says: “Let me state very clearly, the United States has absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”

Some channels on which the ad appeared, it was followed by a tag reading ‘paid content’.

But it was unclear whether the message was getting across Thursday as thousands of protesters clashed with police close to Islamabad’s diplomatic enclave in chaotic scenes that left at least 50 people injured.

The outrage across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia was triggered by a crudely-made movie “Innocence of Muslims,” believed to have been produced by US-based extremist Christians.

Protests have erupted in at least 20 countries leading to the deaths of more than 30 people in violence linked to the film.

Reader Comments (50)

  • us
    Sep 21, 2012 - 2:01AM

    Oh, countering propaganda by propaganda, So what if we buy some airtime to dispel our negative reputation in US. Will this ever be possible. Instead the media portrays Pakistan as the worst country in USA. Do we get a chance to counter their propaganda against us. All this is ridiculous. Simply losing the faith in our good media. The channels getting this money should clearly declare it. I am sure Najam Sethi and like will be rejoicing to see $$$$$$ again.

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  • A2Z
    Sep 21, 2012 - 2:08AM

    We do not blame US government for their involvement in the film making but there should be some limit to the exercise of “Free Speech” slogan. The movie does not represent free speech but it is actually hate speech and there should be a law to cover these subjects. You simply cannot leave and ignore everything on the basis of your proud foundation of liberties.

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  • kakapataka
    Sep 21, 2012 - 2:15AM

    only in pakistan………………

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  • John B
    Sep 21, 2012 - 3:00AM

    Stop wasting my money. Instead spend this money on the USAID.

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  • Khalid
    Sep 21, 2012 - 3:56AM

    @us:
    Najam Sethi (NS) is gem of a jornalist and political analyst- who talks logic and do unbiased analysis. Blaming such a comepetent professional and intellectual sounds so bizzare. I wish we had a whole generation of upright journalists like NS but its unfortunate that our electronic media scene is dominated by typical “rightist” minds who used to be a part Urdu press, which has always played in the hands of establishment.

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  • Joe
    Sep 21, 2012 - 3:59AM

    @US

    Mullahs are saying that the video is being aired on “U.S. State Television”.

    The ads exist to correct the idea that the video was made or supported by the U.S. government.

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  • Aamir, Toronto
    Sep 21, 2012 - 4:42AM

    @John B………you think like a typical American,……don’t you realize that USAID money goes into the pockets of corrupt politicians…..LOL

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  • Observer
    Sep 21, 2012 - 6:35AM

    I think this attempt at appeasement of the Islamists will surely make matters a lot worse in the future. The best approach by the US would have been to just ignore the radical Islamists. They are going to riot, burn flags, kill people regardless anyway. The timid and apologetic approach by the Obama administration will make the Islamists much bolder going forward.

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  • Marie
    Sep 21, 2012 - 6:56AM

    @A2Z:
    Free Speech isn’t a slogan, it’s the the guaranteed right described in the first amendment of the world’s oldest constitution in use. The legal system of the U.S. relies on precedent, and there is no precedent to limit free speech on the basis of whether or not it is hate speech. Hate speech has been brought up in court as a potential exception (such as burning a cross) and it was found to be constitutional. I repeat, it is legal to burn a cross in the U.S! Christians, Jews, any multitude of other people in the U.S. are no stranger to hate speech. As soon as we start giving up our rights, where does it end? Everyone else in the U.S. gets offended by things and we just shrug if off. These are our values(free speech, not the actual content of the video), why should we have to change to appease you? No one is being physically harmed by this, unlike the people in Islamic republics who are physically harmed, even killed, for merely expressing their religious views by spreading the news of their own faith, or by leaving Islam.

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  • Toba Alu
    Sep 21, 2012 - 8:17AM

    Most interesting! But they have already thrown out the whole TV network. Speechless. The new Pakistan.

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  • Toba Alu
    Sep 21, 2012 - 8:34AM

    ET I should appreciate if you could inform the public what is happening today in the country in a non sensational manner. Throwing out the TV network may actually promote participation in violent demonstrations as they have nothing else to day. Many thanks.

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  • Chris
    Sep 21, 2012 - 8:48AM

    Really? Freedom of speech is what allows you to state what you just did!@A2Z:

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  • Chris
    Sep 21, 2012 - 8:58AM

    @A2Z: Freedom of Speech is a right that all Americans have that guarantees we can speak our minds! We can disagree! We can even speak the truth! Since when does the US apologize to terrorists? I thought that attacking a US embassy was considered an act of war? Our President is showing weakness.

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  • Ali
    Sep 21, 2012 - 9:32AM

    @Chris:
    Freedom of Speech is a right that all Americans have that guarantees we can speak our minds! We can disagree! We can even speak the truth!
    SO why speaking about holocaust is added as an exception in freedom of speech law ??

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Sep 21, 2012 - 9:34AM

    $70,000 went in Rats Hole. US should have distributed this amount between groups in their own country who use these cheap tactics to hurt the feelings of more than one and a half billion Muslims in the world for some shameful popularity. West should control these groups within their own countries who want to bring anarchy and chaos across the world. Naked freedom should be stopped with some strong legislation in UN against these types of groups or individuals.Recommend

  • Dixie Chics, the US Country band
    Sep 21, 2012 - 9:53AM

    @Chris:
    dear Chris…………………………… we know all about freedom of expression. Remember how we were threatened? all of us in our cute little country band received death threats. We had no choice but to retract because we did not want some right wing nut job chris…tian to harm us or our families because we . Time showed that we indeed spoke the truth and our government has yet to apologize for the illegal wars and senseless killings.
    What we have done and caused around the globe, none can match.

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  • Prof M
    Sep 21, 2012 - 10:41AM

    Insult African Americans and it’s called “racism”.
    Insult Jewish people and it’s called “anti-semitism”.
    Insult women and it’s called “sexism”.
    Insult homosexual people and it’s called “intolerance”.
    Insult your country and it’s called “extremism”.

    Insult Muhammad (PBUH) and it’s called “free speech”.

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  • Abid
    Sep 21, 2012 - 1:18PM

    @Chris i respect your opinion but i want to ask you whether you can question the number of deaths in holocaust in second world war?…are you sure you have the freedom of speech or its just a farce?….you are in a matrix bro,,,

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  • John B
    Sep 21, 2012 - 1:29PM

    @Chris:
    I agree. The people at the top are showing weakness and are beginning to go on the appeasing routes. While they all condemn the film, (which I don’t because I don’t care ), they do not stand up and say that in the US we have our rights to express the views.

    I am yet to hear from the Sec. Of state or the President or the senators who lobby for PAK in defense of our fundamental rights. Since when did our government become the authority on critiquing the film.

    Europe had a wake up call when the cartoonist and a film producer were assassinated. Now the issue is at our door.

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  • Kaleem
    Sep 21, 2012 - 2:07PM

    America must understand that its not freedom of expression, its freedom of provocation.

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  • Sep 21, 2012 - 2:19PM

    Romney really trumped Obama this time.

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Sep 21, 2012 - 2:22PM

    In the media world every channel requires money to fulfill its needs,paying electricity bills to the WAPDA,taxes to the government and salaries to its employees and all these expenditures can only be fulfilled by the money which is paid to the channels for ads and promotions by the governments,departments and business firms……..Recommend

  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Sep 21, 2012 - 2:24PM

    In the media world every channel requires money to fulfill its needs,paying electricity bills to the WAPDA,taxes to the government and salaries to its employees and all these expenditures can only be fulfilled by the money which is paid to the channels for ads and promotions by the governments,departments and business firms and what the messages are given by the ads and promotions to the people most of the people don’t care and money matters only….Recommend

  • Sep 21, 2012 - 2:54PM

    Money down the drain.

    You have given Pakistan around $50 Billion since its birth. Yet, there are thousands willing to blow themselves up and kill Americans if given a chance.

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  • Asad Bilal
    Sep 21, 2012 - 3:43PM

    if they can remove pictures of princess Kate, jailed the photographer and apology from the publisher why cant they do it in this case????? …. hypocrisy at its peak

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  • Javed Afridi
    Sep 21, 2012 - 3:45PM

    @Marie:
    I have the freedom to say ‘Hail Hitler’ in my country … Do you???

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  • Syed
    Sep 21, 2012 - 4:52PM

    The average american has access to the best education, they have numerous resources available yet they still seem very ignorant.

    Listen clearly, America is there in those part because of its own interests people. Just recently $billions worth of weapons were sold to the gulf countries. All the american people ever talk about is the aid its country gives. Well there is a reason they have to give the aid. World politics is not a child’s game.

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  • Vigilant
    Sep 21, 2012 - 5:17PM

    @Marie:
    If this also applies to anti-jewish???
    Freedom of expression is just another illusion for Americans

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  • Ali
    Sep 21, 2012 - 6:00PM

    As for freedom of speech folks, lets be reasonable, foul mouthing or threatening someone is not freedom of speech.

    For Muslims, this is not something new. From the time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), there have been people who foul mouthed about him, and deep down they knew the truth. Even some of them became Muslims at the end. So such sick people will always exist.

    The actors behind who have been using these sick people, they should be reminded that this is not acceptable. For educating the US government, converting the foreign reserves from USD to gold would suffice.

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  • asma
    Sep 21, 2012 - 6:11PM

    Maybe if someone provides an answer to the question as to why is denial or even a discussion on Holocaust not allowed, but considered a crime?? In spite of the fact that holocaust is an historical fact and historical facts are debatable! Why US and other western nations never rejects the principle behind that law but has tons of words about what the Muslims do?

    Are other people of the world without any feelings? Though the movie is not the fault of US government but their approach has layers and layers of contradictions and prejudiced being the reason why people also react in an unreasonable way. US is not naive, it’s just that they act innocent!!

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  • Calypso
    Sep 21, 2012 - 6:48PM

    The term ‘freedom of speech’ never sounds more ridiculous than when used by an American. In US its an ‘under-cover’ term largely used to justify an act that is otherwise inconcieveable, While I could not have agreed more to Prof M’s brief reflection of the hyprocricy of this term (in the US), im deeply moved by the innocence of your words too. There ARE more than one precedents when the critics of US state policies have been made the victims of forced disappearaces for speaking up against the state policies. The govt. despite claims of human rights wings provide legal cover to such detentions. Another well known name that stikes to my mind is of of Noam Chomsky if you remember. The greatest wealth of knowledge and literary work to live has only been treated like a plague by the state and has been recieveing death threats solely because of his political views, his criticism on US foreign policies and the ligitimacy/bad practice of US powers. where goes the slogan (though you not agree with the term) of ‘freedom of speech’? Lets confess its mere another facet of hipocracy and the US needs to review its Law regarding FOS and racism for not US but her own people … YOU!

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  • Calypso
    Sep 21, 2012 - 6:51PM

    @Marie:
    The term ‘freedom of speech’ never sounds more ridiculous than when used by an American. In US its an ‘under-cover’ term largely used to justify an act that is otherwise inconcieveable, While I could not have agreed more to Prof M’s brief reflection of the hyprocricy of this term (in the US), im deeply moved by the innocence of your words too. There ARE more than one precedents when the critics of US state policies have been made the victims of forced disappearaces for speaking up against the state policies. The govt. despite claims of human rights wings provide legal cover to such detentions. Another well known name that stikes to my mind is of of Noam Chomsky if you remember. The greatest wealth of knowledge and literary work to live has only been treated like a plague by the state and has been recieveing death threats solely because of his political views, his criticism on US foreign policies and the ligitimacy/bad practice of US powers. where goes the slogan (though you not agree with the term) of ‘freedom of speech’? Lets confess its mere another facet of hipocracy and the US needs to review its Law regarding FOS and racism for not US but her own people … YOU!

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  • S K Afridi
    Sep 21, 2012 - 7:04PM

    @Khalid:
    What ever you have written about Najam Sethi is contrary to the common perception of a vast majority of Pakistanis and this is quite obvious from the focus of Najam Sethis criticism on issues related to Pakistan and United States.

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  • Cautious
    Sep 21, 2012 - 7:49PM

    @Kaleem

    America must understand that its not
    freedom of expression, its freedom of
    provocation.

    You can’t have freedom of speech without the freedom to provoke. If you can’t say anything that might offend someone then your not going to say much that is meaningful and clearly never going to say anything that would change anyone’s opinion. In the USA freedom of speech is sacrosanct and when the police break up a fight they rarely ask anything about what was said – they ask “who threw the first punch?” – he’s the guy that goes to jail.

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  • Michael
    Sep 21, 2012 - 8:30PM

    There is a simple fact with Americans… yes most of us ARE ignorant of the effects of such things on people from other countries, backgrounds, religions, etc… and a lot (not all) is due to the media snow screen that we endure on a daily basis. We are almost TOLD what to believe and think. In factors such as this film that was made, I personally dont even know anyone that has bothered to watch it, because it was meant for a particular small group of radical Christian fundamentalists that want to do harm and see THEIR religion pushed upon others. Freedom of Speech doesnt just allow this fool film-maker to produce this slime, but also allows those of us that dont agree with our government and its policies to speak out against it (as much as we can). I will always argue for this fool’s right to make such a film and in the same breath exclaim how much of a closed-minded piece of garbage his film is. To all muslims of the world, please understand that most Americans will rally behind your protest of this film and others like it, but it is the violence that pushes the support away from you. Build the public sentiment in your favor. No matter what we do, we live in a global world now and there will never be a way to stop fools like this from making statements against you, but your violence because of his film has been the reason the film itself is getting more attention and more views. Attack this fool with your words and movements and you will see MANY Americans rally behind you and your beliefs.

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  • Syed
    Sep 21, 2012 - 8:44PM

    @Michael. The people that are causing all of this violence are crazy lunatics. They probably don’t know the basics of their religion. There is a large majority that don’t condone violence and are so helpless to see what is happening in their country. It really is very frustrating. Several thousands are causing this in Muslim countries yet peaceful majority just can’t seem to do anything about it.

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  • SM
    Sep 21, 2012 - 8:59PM

    @Michael:
    Building public sentiment is not easy in the US, given the fact that it is in the Western DNA to dislike Muslims.. it is built into the genes that Muslims are bad people. The reality is to the contrary but the conventional opinion that Muslims somehow are the enemy is the main cause behind this bias. In a way this is a repetition of the treatment of Jews in Europe from the dark ages to recent times.

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  • Cautious
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:37PM

    @Prof M

    Insult African Americans and it’s
    called “racism”. Insult Jewish people
    and it’s called “anti-semitism”.
    Insult women and it’s called “sexism”.
    Insult homosexual people and it’s
    called “intolerance”. Insult your
    country and it’s called “extremism”.

    Insult Muhammad (PBUH) and it’s called
    “free speech”.

    In the USA it’s legal to be a racist, anti Semite, sexist, intolerant, extremist – and it’s also legal to insult someones religion. What you can’t do is physically harm or threaten to harm someone.

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  • Michael
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:40AM

    @SM:

    I would have to disagree about it being “built into our DNA” to hate Muslims, SM… I am a very observant person and I never noticed any natural hatreds for the Muslims until 9/11 attacks occurred, and then that was mainly pushed by our government so the could lie to us to let them invade the countries of the Middle East. Again with that, Americans seeing the violence being caused against the people that were killed who had really little or nothing to do with the government or entity that they were ACTUALLY angry with, caused the rally against Muslims because thats who we were shown to be causing the attacks. I do understand where you are coming from, SM… you see YOU are being shown that all Americans are bred to hate Muslims, and WE are being shown that Muslims want to kill all infidels (which we are told Americans are considered infidels), when the truth is actually that if we are not bothering each other, then we get along fine, which can be said about any and all races, religions, creeds. We need to hold our leaders and governments mroe accountable for the actions that occur, rather than blindly focus hatred upon each other.

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  • Michael
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:50AM

    @Syed:

    Syed, I cannot even begin to understand how frustrating and angry that the peaceful people of your country and faith must be during this craziness that is being caused by the fanatics. I have gotten into arguments so many times lately with people here that will falsely blame this violence on the Muslim faith, sometimes screaming at them that they cannot blame the millions of peaceful Muslims for something that a few lunatics are responsible for. The same thing happens with Christians here in the US, as there are smaller pockets of fanatics that condone violence and hatred, though I wont pretend that it is anywhere near the levels that you and your people have to endure. It is very apparent that the ones that cause the craziness in any religions or faith are typically the small portions that truly know the LEAST about their religion.

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  • Not Amused
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:29AM

    Really, what a bunch of uninformed comments here! I can see the concept of free speech as practiced in the U S is not very well understood. The basic idea is you cannot be arrested by the government (at any level) for what you say. Thats it! Not arrested or fined. The govermnent cannot take action agaimst you. End of lesson.
    The laws and interpretation is different in other countries so you are correct that you can get into trouble being a holocaust denigher in some countries. But not in the US.!
    That DOES NOT mean that everyone who hears you has to be happy with what you said. You can say you don’t believe in the Holocaust or that 9/11 was a CIA plot, that the president wasn’t actually born in the US and should be removed from office, or even that there are green Martians and you will not be arrested. Other people might use their freedom of speech to call you a liar and say hurtful things about you, maybe even stop inviting you over for dinner, but that is their freedom of speech and it is also protected. Your speech may make you very unpopular but you will not be arrested. You cannot threaten or directly incite people to riot but just about every thing else is fair game. There are reasons why this RIGHT is held so dear in the US. it is understood to be essential to the survival of a pluralistic society.
    As soon as a goverent starts arresting people when they say things against one religion what is to keep them from arresting others for saying things against another religion or a political party or nationality or a race or well by now you should get the idea. Many of the early settlers in North America were fleeing religious persecution and freedom of speech was one of the ways they guaranteed their survival.

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  • us
    Sep 22, 2012 - 5:23AM

    @ BruteForce. And you gave all that money in charity. All your money is invested not in pakistan but its puppets to carry out its dirty policies in the region. You just pay bill for the ammunition that our army uses against our own people to server your purpose.

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  • Observer
    Sep 22, 2012 - 6:16AM

    @Ali:
    “SO why speaking about holocaust is added as an exception in freedom of speech law ??”

    No, there is no exception under US laws for holocaust.

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  • Observer
    Sep 22, 2012 - 6:26AM

    @Michael:

    ” It is very apparent that the ones that cause the craziness in any religions or faith are typically the small portions that truly know the LEAST about their religion.”

    Well, it is not a crime to be politically correct, but you seem to be totally ignorant of facts on the ground. Many recent polls in Pakistan have shown that about 80% of Pakistanis believe in the cruel and barbaric punishments for things such as blasphemy and apostasy prescribed in the scriptures. 80% is certainly not a small portion.

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  • Tahir
    Sep 22, 2012 - 3:54PM

    The US knows no boundaries either in physical or ideological or moral domains. First Amendment if allows freedom of expression, why does it not allow this freedom of speech against Jews as well! Now, if someone does this, he or she becomes an antisemite even before he / she has uttered a single word and might have just thought in the mind alone. What a mockery and double standards! This double-standard-gene resides deep inside the soul and flesh of the US Administration.
    Unless and until something is done about it, this World can never be a better place for the rest of the nations outside the US.

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  • Sep 22, 2012 - 5:59PM

    @us:

    That is what a rentier state does. Besides, I did not hear any complaints when America deployed an Aircraft Carrier to help Pakistan during the 1971 war. Only if the Soviets had not intervened, Pakistan would have not lost Bangladesh.

    I did not hear a peep from anyone of the Right wingers who are thoroughly anti-America during the 1980s when America financing anti-Soviet war via Pakistan.

    Why the protest now? Not only that, Pakistan went on to bite the hand that fed them! How disgraceful…

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  • Tahir Ali
    Sep 22, 2012 - 11:53PM

    @BruteForce:
    You are not well conversant with whatever has been happening in our part of the world. US may have given us US$50 bn (Though an exaggerated figure) but that is nothing as compared to what you have achieved because of Pakistan. Ask your politicians what they were spending annually during the cold war period. It is Pakistan with whose help USA was able to ensure dismemberment of erstwhile USSR and became the only superpower. After achieving your objectives in the eighties, you left us in the lurch to face the consequences. So it is not Pakistan which “went on to bite the hand that fed them”. You acted disgracefully, not us, by abandoning Pakistan. Again after 9/11 you needed us and we were there for you but this time we are careful in trusting you and that is what is pinching you.
    I very often read comments which imply that you are very powerful and can sort out anybody. Remember, even after spending US$ 500 bn, 11 years and many casualties, you have not been able to overcome a handful (about 5000) Haqqanis and need Pakistan’s help to broker a deal with them. So dear Brute Force, there is always a limit to what brute force can achieve.
    USA already consumes 25% of world’s energy despite the fact that its population is less than 5%. Still with this bloating stomach, you need more. Pakistan played a major role in securing the enviable position USA enjoys today, don’t you ever forget that.

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  • Tahir Ali
    Sep 23, 2012 - 1:27AM

    @BruteForce:
    You are not well conversant with whatever has been happening in our part of the world. US may have given us US$50 bn (Though an exaggerated figure) but that is nothing as compared to what you have achieved because of Pakistan. Ask your politicians what they were spending annually during the cold war period. It is Pakistan with whose help USA was able to ensure dismemberment of erstwhile USSR and became the only superpower. After achieving your objectives in the eighties, you left us in the lurch to face the consequences. So it is not Pakistan which “went on to bite the hand that fed them”. You acted disgracefully, not us, by abandoning Pakistan. Again after 9/11 you needed us and we were there for you but this time we are careful in trusting you and that is what is pinching you.
    I very often read comments which imply that you are very powerful and can sort out anybody. Remember, even after spending US$ 500 bn, 11 years and many casualties, you have not been able to overcome a handful (about 5000) Haqqanis and need Pakistan’s help to broker a deal with them. So dear Brute Force, there is always a limit to what brute force can achieve.
    USA already consumes 25% of world’s energy despite the fact that its population is less than 5%. Still with this bloating stomach, you need more. Pakistan played a major role in securing the enviable position USA enjoys today, don’t you ever forget that.

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  • Diddly poo
    Sep 24, 2012 - 6:01AM

    @Chris:
    There’s a difference between free speech and hate speech.

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  • ??
    Sep 25, 2012 - 10:00PM

    Excellent. Now Pakistan has discovered another way of getting money from America and abusing it at the same time.

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