ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 8 — “Before, our children would salute our soldiers when they passed. Now they spit on them.”
That is how Zahoor Ahmed described the feelings of his hillside village, Kohu, a three-hour drive from the capital, Islamabad. It is a sentiment expressed openly in Pakistan these days, rare for a country where the military has long dominated everything, including the fear of speaking out. Mr. Ahmed’s immediate anger was set off by the government’s decision to storm the Red Mosque, an armed, pro-Taliban bastion in the heart of the capital, where several girls from his village attended a religious school.
But nearly eight years into Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s rule as president of Pakistan, the Red Mosque siege is hardly the only cause for grievance. Conversations with ordinary Pakistanis reveal uncommonly outspoken anger and antipathy toward General Musharraf specifically and the military’s involvement in politics generally. Analysts and opinion polls support the impression.