Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama's Victory Celebrated in Pakistan

"Congratulations! Your new president is Obama! You know, I supported Obama. He is a great man," claimed my Pakistani landlady when I went downstairs to visit yesterday. Despite media predictions that Pakistanis would respond negatively to an Obama victory, the mood here in Lahore is not only positive but celebratory. People are smiling and congratulating me on my new president every time we meet.

It was hard to control my Creative Writing class a few days after the election, as everyone wanted to talk about Obama's win. "We think he will be a good president. His mother has visited Pakistan and he will deal better with Muslim countries," one woman said. Many people have been boasting that Obama's mother has been in both Karachi and Gujranwala. Pakistanis feel very involved in the US election; it's as if it was their election as well. People here are saying that if an African American can make his way to the White House, any American can. Pakistanis believe that Obama will bring positive change to America's foreign policy.

This is a huge change for a country that has one of the lowest favorability ratings of Americans according to the PEW Research Group. In 2007, only 15% of Pakistanis had a favorable view of the United States, while 68% had an unfavorable view. This is one of the highest negative ratings in the world, with only Palestinians and Turks having a lower view of the United States. Can Barack Obama as president help to turn back the tide of anti-Americanism in Pakistan and the Middle East?

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Obama's Victory Celebrated in Pakistan

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