A cartoon in The Washington Times lampooning Pakistan’s role in the US war on terror has turned into a rallying point for nationalist passions and hidden anti-American sentiments here.
The “offensive” cartoon (published May 6) shows a US soldier patting a dog (Pakistan) that holds Abu Faraj Al Libbi (a terrorist linked with Al Qaeda) and saying, “Good boy … now let’s go find bin Laden.”
A survey carried out by Online news agency revealed hurt national pride, with people cutting across the class divide vocally demanding that the government quit supporting the US in its war against terrorism.
“I think the Pakistan-US relations on the war against terrorism would not continue any more. The US is wary of admitting that Pakistan helped the US to find out its enemies,” said Nazeer Ahmed, a lawyer.
For Muhammad Ali, a student of Quaid-e-Azam University, the cartoon belittles Pakistan’ anti-terror efforts and exposes how much the US values Pakistan’s role in the war in terror.
Many students of this university are so sore with the US “assault on national pride” that they will settle for nothing less than an apology from US President George Bush.
It’s not just the capital’s chattering classes that are affronted; ordinary shopkeepers too have not shied away from registering their outrage against what they see the US duplicity in its relations with Pakistan.
On the diplomatic front, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington wasted no time in registering its protest against this insensitive cartoon.
“We are disgusted with the insensitivity of the editors of the Washington Times. They have insulted the 150 million people of Pakistan,” said Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan’s charge d’affaires in Washington.
UPDATE: The Washington Times’ cartoonist is Bill Garner.