US hopes advertising in Pakistan will quell anti-US anger
The United States hopes a television ad denouncing a provocative anti-Muslim film will help quell escalating protests, violence and anger in Pakistan, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday, DPA reported.
The US embassy in Islamabad created the ad, which features public remarks by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the movie Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the US.
The ads began airing on Thursday on several Pakistani television stations.
The impact of the ads, for which the US has spent about 70,000 dollars, was questioned after protests flared Friday across Pakistan in demonstrations against the film. Twelve people, including three policemen, were killed in Karachi, the country's commercial hub, police and medics said. Four others died in the north-western city of Peshwar.
Nuland said more time is needed to see if the advertising is effective. She said people who are the most vocal in Pakistan are "on the most extreme side" of the reaction to the movie.
"It's obviously early to look at whether the methods that we've used to try to reach Pakistanis have been effective, but we'll have to look at this going forward," Nuland said at a briefing.
In addition to buying television time, the embassy posted a link to the ads on its Facebook page, and the embassy has said that most of the comments posted in response have been negative.
Nuland said the embassy was attempting to reach out to as many people as it could, even those who don't agree with Washington, adding that there were silent majorities among the Palistani population who were "staying home, not participating and not getting on Facebook and putting up negative comments."
The offensive movie has touched off violence throughout the Middle East for more than a week, but Friday's protests were particularly violent. The movie has been blamed for attacks on the US embassy in Cairo and on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US officials were killed.
The ads are subtitled in Urdu, the main Pakistani language. The potential audience on the televison stations is 90 million people, Nuland said. She added that it was common practice to pay to air public service announcements in Pakistan.