Last month, addressing a meeting of Pakistan's corporate leaders organised in Karachi by the Management Association of Pakistan, US Ambassador Anne W Patterson expressed "surprise" over what she called the deepening anti-Americanism in Pakistan, especially in the middle class. She chastised those who opposed American engagement in Pakistan because they, according to her, had a limited understanding of how the US "economic assistance and financial interactions" had changed the everyday lives of Pakistanis in real and positive ways." Ambassador Patterson also suspected that those in Pakistan "who come up with the most fanciful conspiracy theories do so in an attempt to distract the public from the true causes of extremism and poverty." She warned that the increasingly prosperous middle class would be the first to suffer because extremists were gaining ground. "Extremists have gained ground during the past two years," she said. She reiterated her country's support for the new democratic government in Pakistan which according to her was facing the enormous challenges of rising fuel prices and food costs. She also dispelled "rumours" that the United States only worked with the military in Pakistan. "This is not true," she said, adding that Pakistan was the third largest recipient of American assistance in the world with security assistance being an important part of this engagement. She was perhaps right in this dismal assessment of what the people of Pakistan think of the American "engagement" in this country. Apparently, over the past seven years, Pakistan has received more than $10 billion in military and civilian aid. But the people have yet to feel any security-related or development-based betterment in their daily lives as a result of this aid. There is not a single school or a university, a hospital or a power generation unit, a water desalination plant or a bridge or a road or any mass transit scheme anywhere in Pakistan, not even in the tribal areas, that could be attributed to American assistance. American engagement in Pakistan has never been people-specific. It has always been issue-specific and geared only to prop up military rulers and autocratic regimes in Pakistan. The Bush Administration's blatant meddling in Pakistan's internal affairs has gone beyond all limits. Its continued backing of General Musharraf, despite an overwhelming vote against him by the people of Pakistan in the recent elections is inciting deep popular anger and resentment against America's Pakistan policy. It is seen as a blatant interference in Pakistan's domestic politics. Through February 18 elections, the people of Pakistan had spoken loud and clear. First and foremost, they had shown to the world that contrary to what General Musharraf had been telling his Western audiences in recent months, they were fully capable of practising real democracy with all its fundamental norms and values as were applicable to genuine democracies anywhere else in the world. Ambassador Patterson seems to have missed this point altogether. She also failed to report to her government that the people in Pakistan had said no to religious extremism and violence, and had also rejected Musharraf. They had voted for constitutional supremacy and independence of judiciary, rule of law and fundamental freedoms including the media freedom. They wanted reinstatement of the illegally deposed judges of the superior courts. They wanted an end to dictatorship. The people have been struggling for the rule of law and independence of judiciary since March last year when Musharraf precipitated the worst crisis of our history by trying to seek the chief justice's unmannerly and unlawful removal from office. It was a crisis because of one man's obsession for remaining in power at every cost and by all means, no matter what happens to the country or its people. He has shown no legal or moral restraint since then. He launched an "open war" against the media and civil society, and then went ahead with his highly controversial "re-election" on October 6. As if this was not enough, he shocked the world through his November 3 extra-constitutional "emergency plus" which was an undeclared "martial law" and an assault in one stroke on the constitution, the judiciary, the media and the fundamental rights of the people. By voting against the disgraced Queue League or the King's Party for which Musharraf was openly canvassing till the very last day of electioneering, the people in fact voted against Musharraf himself. They threw out his stalwart allies including most of his cabinet ministers only because they represented his system and his policies. It was indeed a vote of no-confidence against Musharraf and his unconstitutional presidential "re-election" while he was still in uniform as army chief and from the same assemblies that had elected him earlier. On February 18, they swarmed the polling booths only to signal what they had been chanting in unison since March 9 last year. They gave him the final democratic call: Go Musharraf Go. He should have respected their verdict and availed himself of the first opportunity for an honourable exit. But he not only hangs on, he is also seeking to frustrate the will of the people. He is politicking with them. In this war of "one against all," the US disappointingly stands on the wrong side. There is a growing public resentment in Pakistan over the partisan role the US is seen to be playing in this war of "one against all." President George W Bush's untimely telephone call last week to his embattled "buddy" reiterating his strong support for him could not have been more contemptuous of the sovereign will of the people of Pakistan. He offended them by reaffirming his solidarity with someone they had rejected democratically and by assuring him that the US looked forward to his "continuing role in further strengthening the US-Pakistani relations." If that be so, the future of US-Pakistan relations is bleak. No wonder the people in Pakistan are angry at the US for its Musharraf-specific focus. This growing anti-Americanism should cause no surprise to Ambassador Patterson. It should be an eye-opener for her. She is only witnessing the re-enactment of how history treats American-backed military rulers. They become the most loathed persons in their own countries, eventually looking for asylum in other countries. The Shah of Iran and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines are two of the most recent glaring examples of America's favourite leaders. Washington's overbearing global conduct has not only brought a serious backlash among foreign populations but also given rise to anti-Americanism all over the world reflecting the general reaction to US might and power, its self-righteousness, its international conduct including the blatant use of force in Iraq and elsewhere, its intrusions on national sovereignty, its contempt for moral and multilateral imperatives and its role in the growth of anti-Islam sentiment in the West. Ironically, no other nation has done greater damage to its own global interests by its shortsighted policies and ill-chosen friends. Pakistan's president is the current American albatross. His days are numbered now. He had an opportunity to exit honourably last July when the Supreme Court gave its verdict against his unmannerly and illegal "presidential reference" against the sitting chief justice. He missed it, and now faces impeachment. The country has been abuzz with speculations over his future. There is even a growing demand to put him on trial for treason. The Long March on June 10 will seal his fate. The people of Pakistan have always wanted a good relationship with the US. They would like this relationship to endure and flourish on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual benefit with a policy focus on the people rather than on one man. It should not be issue-specific or transactional in nature. Senator Joe Biden accurately described the essence of this relationship when he said, "we've got to move from a policy concentrated on one man - President Musharraf - to a policy centred on an entire people...the people of Pakistan." The graph of anti-Americanism in Pakistan as elsewhere in the world has indeed been sky-rocketing in recent years despite all that the US claims to be doing to help Pakistan's long-term interests as a "friend and an ally." This situation will change only if the US moves away from its Musharraf-specific policy to people-centred policy in Pakistan. Americans have always believed that America is the light of the world. But somehow not many, including a very large number of Americans and Europeans, share this belief. The world at large, foes and friends alike, have a different opinion of the US and its "benevolent" policies. They see very little consistency between America's values and ideals and its actual practices in the world. Her surprise therefore is misplaced. Oh America When shall thou practice what you preach?