- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Anti-American attitudes in the press and among educated Pakistanis are so pervasive as to raise questions on the dependability of this country as a key American ally in the war against terrorism.
Despite the strong support for the United States proclaimed by President Pervez Musharraf since the September 11 attacks, Pakistan's freewheeling media is filled with hostility for America, with the Muslim nation's small intelligentsia in the forefront.
Typical are the writings of Shireen Mazari, the director-general at the state-run Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, who routinely lashes out at President Bush in her newspaper column.
Writing about Mr. Bush's speech on Iraq this month at the United Nations, she said the American military agenda "obviously goes far beyond Iraq, and all Muslim states need to be wary of the U.S. intent towards them."
"Strange how Mr. Bush has made no reference to Israel's weapons of mass destruction, which hold the whole Middle East captive, and its occupation of Palestine; nor has the occupation of Kashmir by India reached his obviously limited or selective awareness."
Open or thinly disguised support for Islamic terrorists has been showing up in some native-language newspapers, such as the Karachi-based Ummat Muslimah, or Muslim Nation, which has a wide readership among the poor and less-educated people of southern Pakistan.
Published by a group of religious radicals, the paper takes advantage of Gen. Musharraf's toleration of almost unlimited press freedom to openly support Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization.
The government earlier this year placed an ad in the Urdu-language Jang newspaper with a picture of bin Laden and 17 other terrorist suspects under a headline that said, "These people are dangerous religious terrorists."
Ummat Muslimah responded by publishing the same pictures with a headline saying: "These people are not dangerous religious terrorists, they are holy warriors."
But what surprises and concerns diplomats is the anti-American anger among the intelligentsia, an anger that emerges in private conversations and in the opinions of columnists and editorial writers.
M.B. Naqvi, a prominent writer whose columns appear in several newspapers and magazines, frequently brings up Palestine and Kashmir as his two main irritants.
In his latest column, he writes: "There are U.S.-Israeli ties. The duo have mostly common views and common methodology. Each decides who the enemy is and how much punishment is to be inflicted, and how. Adequate proof of the enemy's wrongdoing is no reason for holding back the Bushes and the Sharons from striking out." Ariel Sharon is the prime minister of Israel.
Writers such as Miss Mazari and Mr. Naqvi may be comfortable in the knowledge they are writing for people who agree with them, in general, and that they do not have to convert readers to their viewpoints.
Mr. Naqvi wrote: "The U.S. administration, blinded by hatred, did not identify the enemy [before its attack on Afghanistan]. It made do with popular prejudices and vague images of the enemy."
Pakistani columnists may feel free to lash out in the usually correct belief their columns will not be seen in the United States. But the columns are read and taken seriously both in Pakistan and in neighboring states.
Hamid Mir, another prominent journalist who interviewed bin Laden three times between 1997 and 2001, describes in a recent column the effect of what he had written as far back as 1996.
In one of his columns, Mr. Mir accused then Afghan ruler Mullah Mohammed Omar of being pro-American. He said Mullah Omar invited him to Kabul and earnestly assured him, over cups of tea, that he was not pro-American.

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