Anti-Pakistan sentiment

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Anti-Pakistan sentiment or Pakistan-phobia also known as Pakophobia[1][2][3][4] refers to hatred or hostility towards Pakistan, Pakistanis and Pakistani culture, ranging from criticism of public policies, to fear or an irrational fixation. The opposite of anti-Pakistan sentiment is pro-Pakistan sentiment.


Results of 2017 BBC World Service poll.
Views of Pakistan's influence by country[5]
Sorted by Pos-Neg
Country polled Positive Negative Neutral Pos-Neg
10 -80
14 -76
12 -56
 United States
15 -57
19 -53
25 -55
19 -45
19 -43
 United Kingdom
10 -34
36 -54
32 -50
38 -54
23 -19
52 -46
50 -30
29 +1
40 +16
9 +3
35 +29


The Indian state officially rejects the validity of the Two Nation Theory, the notion that Indian Muslims are a distinct 'nation' and needed an independent homeland in South Asia. Nationalists led by Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to make what was then British India, as well as the 562 princely states under British paramountcy, into a single secular, democratic state.[6] Hindu nationalists in India support the idea of Akhand Bharat, 'undivided India', and consider the partition of India an illegitimate act. There have been many anti-Pakistan rallies involving the burning or desecration of Pakistani flags.[7][7][8][9][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] Indian right-wing political parties frequently use anti-Pakistan sentiments to garner votes.[16]


The slogan "Death to Pakistan" (Pakistan Murdabad) was raised by Sikh leader Master Tara Singh in March 1947, soon after the Unionist Party cabinet of Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana resigned in the Punjab, and immediately after it was announced that the Muslim League would take over the reins of provincial government.[17][18][19] The resignation of the Khizar Tiwana government, composed of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs, followed the unrest caused by the call for the Direct Action Day by the Muslim League the previous year.[17][20]

According to historian Stanley Wolpert in A New History of India,[18] when the administration of Punjab was taken over by Muslim League, "Master Tara Singh, prominent Sikh political and religious leader in the first half of the 20th century, called for direct action by his khalsa against the League at this time, igniting the powder keg of repressed violence that set the Punjab ablaze with his cry of "Pakistan Murdabad" ("Death to Pakistan"). Tara Singh and his followers were demanding a Sikh nation of their own, Khalistan, and by demonstrating their willingness to die in defence of their homeland, they sought to prove the validity of their claim."[18] This slogan often was followed by religious fights and conflicts.[21][22][23]


In February 2011, the Shiv Sena stated that it would not allow Pakistan to play any 2011 Cricket World Cup matches in Mumbai.[24] Pakistan Hockey Federation also feared of sending the national hockey of Pakistan because of anti-Pakistani sentiment in India.[25] The state of Maharashtra, where Shiv Sena is prominent, has been deemed an unsafe venue for hosting visiting Pakistani teams.[26] Shiv Sena has periodically disrupted cricketing occasions involving the two countries. In 1999, it tampered the pitch at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground to stop a match between the two sides, while during the 2006 Champions Trophy it made threats against hosting Pakistan's matches in Jaipur and Mohali.[27] Post-2008, it has frequently threatened against the resumption of a bilateral Indo-Pakistani cricket series. In October 2015, Shiv Sena activists barged into the headquarters of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Mumbai, chanting anti-Pakistan slogans and stopping a scheduled meeting between BCCI president Shashank Manohar and the Pakistan Cricket Board's Shahryar Khan and Najam Sethi.[27]


Several major Bollywood films have depicted Pakistan in a hostile manner by portraying Pakistanis and the state as a hostile enemy.[28] Other Bollywood movies, however, have been highly popular in Pakistan and India's Bollywood movie star Shah Rukh Khan has advocated India-Pakistan reconciliation. Although Bollywood films were banned for 40 years prior to 2008 because Indian culture was officially viewed as being "vulgar", there had been an active black market during the period and little was done to disrupt it.[29]

In 2012, Raj Thackeray and his party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) told Indian singer Asha Bhosle not to co-judge in Sur Kshetra, a musical reality show aired on a local television channel that featured Pakistani artists alongside Indians. The MNS threatened to disrupt the shoot among other consequences if the channel went on to air the show. However, amid tight security in a hotel conference, Bhosle played down the threat, saying she only understood the language of music and did not understand politics.[30] In the past, Shiv Sena has disrupted concerts by Pakistani artists in India.[27] In October 2015, Shiv Sena activists assaulted Indian journalist Sudheendra Kulkarni and blackened his face with ink; Kulkarni was due to host a launch event for former Pakistani foreign affairs minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book in Mumbai.[27] The Shiv Sena have also blocked the screening or promotion of Pakistani films in Indian cinemas, or Indian films starring Pakistani actors, as well as threatening Pakistani artists in Maharashtra.[31][32][33]

According to one Indian minister, Kiren Rijiju, much of the obsession with Pakistan is limited to North India due to historical and cultural reasons.[34]

More recently following the Uri attack in 2016, due to which tensions escalated between India and Pakistan, anti-Pakistan sentiments became more pronounced; the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association voted to ban Pakistani artists from working in Bollywood.[35]


The relationship between Bangladesh and Pakistan is affected by past history. Due to political, economic, linguistic and ethnic discrimination by the Pakistani state before independence in 1971, and the atrocities against the Bengalis committed by the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War, some people in Bangladesh abhor everything from Pakistan.[36] The Government of Bangladesh demands a formal apology for those atrocities from the Pakistani head of state, as well as putting on trial former military and political leaders who had played a role in the army action in then East Pakistan. Pakistan has continued to ignore this demand.[37]

In 2012, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) abandon a planned cricket tour in Pakistan indefinitely amid fears over players' safety, following protests by Bangladeshis and a Facebook campaign against the visit.[38]

In response to Pakistan's National Assembly adopting a resolution to condemn Abdul Quader Mollah execution, protests were held outside the Pakistan High Commission.[39]

A 2014 PEW opinion poll found that 50% of Bangladeshis held a positive view of Pakistan.[40]


Afghanistan–Pakistan relations have been negatively affected by issues related to the Durand Line, the 1978–present war (i.e. Mujahideen, Afghan refugees, Taliban insurgency and border skirmishes), including water and the growing influence of India in Afghanistan.[41][42] Most major attacks in Afghanistan are blamed on neighboring Pakistan and Iran. This makes anti-Pakistan sentiment run high in the country, particularly among the Afghan politicians.[43] In response to Afghan support for Baloch insurgents, since the 1970s onwards, Pakistan supported rebels such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ahmad Shah Massoud,[44] Haqqanis, Taliban,[45] and others against the governments of Afghanistan.

In the 1990s, Pakistan's support for the Taliban movement led to strong anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan. According to Pakistan and Afghanistan expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" keeping the Taliban regime in power.[46] The role of the Pakistani military during that time has been described by international observers as a "creeping invasion" of Afghanistan.[46] UN documents also reveal the role of Arab and Pakistani support troops in Taliban massacre campaigns.[47]

In the course of the Taliban insurgency anti-Pakistan sentiment was again fuelled after a spate of suicide bombings by the Taliban, which in 2011 and 2012 caused 80% of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and which the Afghan government and many international officials claim is supported by Pakistan.[48][49] Demonstrations in Afghanistan have denounced Pakistan politically for its alleged role in Taliban attacks.[50] Afghan leaders such as Amrullah Saleh or Ahmad Wali Massoud (a younger brother of Ahmad Shah Massoud) have said, that their criticism is directed at the politics of the Pakistani military and not at Pakistan as a country. Both reiterated the distinction by saying that the Pakistani people had been very generous in providing shelter to Afghan refugees but that it was the policy of the Pakistani military which had caused so much suffering to the Afghan people.[51]

Anti-Pakistan sentiment has increased in Afghanistan after hundreds of suicide bombings and assassinations.[48] In 2017 there were mass protests in several Afghan provinces, trying to highlight that Pakistan was a terrorist-sponsoring state.[52]

Middle East[edit]

In certain Middle Eastern countries, some Middle Easterns have behaved in a somewhat discriminatory and violent manner toward South Asians like Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans. In the case of Pakistanis, these attacks are usually carried on darker-skinned individuals versus their lighter-skinned, Iranic counterparts. Middle Easterns youth have also occasionally engaged in violent attacks on South Asian workers.[53]


After the July 2005 bombings in London, there were waves of "Pakistanophobia" in France. A Pakistani community leader said a "right-wing newspaper, for instance, launched a ferocious campaign against Pakistanis in France and placed them in one basket, calling them a "cause for concern."[54]


There has been some anti-Pakistani sentiment in Israel. During the 1965 Indo-Pakistani war, Israel played a major role in convincing the United States not to send weapons to Pakistan, indirectly leading it to impose an embargo on Pakistan.[55][56] The anniversary of the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 is regularly marked in Israel with tributes paid to the Indian Armed Forces.[57]

In 1999, Israeli military personnel helped India develop better planned operations against Pakistan. In an interview with a Russian daily, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described Pakistan as an "evil empire", repeating U.S. President Ronald Reagan's choice reference for the Soviet Union.[58] Israeli journalists have also criticized Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.[59]

United Kingdom[edit]

As of 2005, the United Kingdom had the largest overseas Pakistani community, who are known as British Pakistanis.[60] There have been periodic ethnic tensions faced by the Pakistani community. The first recorded use of the term "Paki" in a derogatory way was in the United Kingdom. However, the term has also been used for non-Pakistani South Asians. The word is being reclaimed by younger British Pakistanis, who use it themselves although this remains controversial.[61]

British Pakistanis were eight times more likely to be victims of a racist attack than White people in 1996.[62] The chances of a Pakistani being racially attacked in a year is more than 4% – the highest rate in the country, along with British Bangladeshis – though this has come down from 8% a year in 1996.[63] According to a 2016 YouGov survey, around 20% of British respondents were against admitting migrants from Pakistan and four other countries.[64]


There runs a profound and deep streak of hate in Greece towards Pakistan and Pakistanis as evidenced by a string of attacks that have taken place on Pakistanis in the country.[65] [66]

United States[edit]

Public opinion polling shows that the United States has the most anti-Pakistan sentiment of any country with 85% expressing a negative view in a 2014 BBC poll.[67]

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Pakistani-Americans have been targeted more often in hate crime attacks. Pakistani Americans are subjected to greater scrutiny in airport security checks. Up to 45,000 of the estimated 100,000-strong Pakistani community in New York were deported or left voluntarily following the attacks.[68]

In 2006, Hasan, a Princeton University graduate, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who allegedly tortured him, accusing him of having ties to Al Qaeda before deporting him to Pakistan. In 2009, his wife formally requested the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad review his case in 2009.[69]

Pakistani reactions[edit]

Pakistani cable operators have accused foreign news organisations of airing "anti-Pakistan" material, according to the BBC. In November 2011 that organisation was itself blocked from view in Pakistan after it broadcast a documentary called Secret Pakistan in which Pakistan's connections to the Taliban were explored. The BBC noted that while it was officially the action of broadcast operators in the country, "the Pakistani government is likely to have put pressure on [them] to impose the ban". The government denied this, saying that it was committed to "freedom of press and media".[70]

See also[edit]


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