U.S.-Pakistani relations — according to 12-year-olds

The United States and Pakistan have not had the greatest year — or decade — from a diplomatic perspective. Just today, for instance, Pakistan and Iran launched a natural gas pipeline that Washington has vigorously opposed. Reflecting on the state of U.S.-Pakistani relations at the end of 2012, one senior State Department official told reporters: ...

612770_130311_New22.png
612770_130311_New22.png

The United States and Pakistan have not had the greatest year -- or decade -- from a diplomatic perspective. Just today, for instance, Pakistan and Iran launched a natural gas pipeline that Washington has vigorously opposed. Reflecting on the state of U.S.-Pakistani relations at the end of 2012, one senior State Department official told reporters:

Obviously, if you sort of step back a little bit, for us, 2011 was as hard a year in U.S.-Pakistan relations as you can imagine.... And so we tried in 2012 to sort of get back into some sensible business with them. Our philosophy has been that it ought to be possible between Pakistan and the United States to systematically identify our shared interests and act on them jointly.

Apparently, 12-year-olds have no trouble doing just that. Through the Marshall Direct Fund's Global Kid Connect program, Aspen Country Day School in Colorado has been taking part in a pen pal exchange with Lahore Grammar School in Pakistan. In their letters, which the organization has posted online, the elementary and middle schoolers go beyond identifying "shared interests" (Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift), broaching some touchier subjects as well.

The United States and Pakistan have not had the greatest year — or decade — from a diplomatic perspective. Just today, for instance, Pakistan and Iran launched a natural gas pipeline that Washington has vigorously opposed. Reflecting on the state of U.S.-Pakistani relations at the end of 2012, one senior State Department official told reporters:

Obviously, if you sort of step back a little bit, for us, 2011 was as hard a year in U.S.-Pakistan relations as you can imagine…. And so we tried in 2012 to sort of get back into some sensible business with them. Our philosophy has been that it ought to be possible between Pakistan and the United States to systematically identify our shared interests and act on them jointly.

Apparently, 12-year-olds have no trouble doing just that. Through the Marshall Direct Fund’s Global Kid Connect program, Aspen Country Day School in Colorado has been taking part in a pen pal exchange with Lahore Grammar School in Pakistan. In their letters, which the organization has posted online, the elementary and middle schoolers go beyond identifying “shared interests” (Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift), broaching some touchier subjects as well.

Audra, a seventh-grader, writes: 

Not many of the Pakistani students’ letters have been posted online. But judging from the responses by Aspen students, terrorism is a recurring theme in the exchanges, Here’s Tristan, 13:

To answer your question. We don’t think your country is all terroriscs [sic] but we think that your country has terrorists in it. Are there terrorists in your country?

Meanwhile, Sarah, a seventh-grader, unequivocally states her lack of an agenda when it comes to Pakistan:

Here’s my personal favorite, from Andrew, 13, and Mat, 9:

You have to give these kids credit. It might be time for the State Department to recruit some junior ambassadors.

Marya Hannun is a Ph.D. student in Arabic and Islamic studies at Georgetown University. Follow her on Twitter at: @mrhannun.

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