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When things go boom in the night, Pakistanis blame Blackwater

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When asked if Blackwater or Xe worked for any other branch of the US or Pakistani government, he writes in an e-mail, “I would refer you to Ambassador [Anne] Patterson’s statement that ‘we do not use Blackwater or Xe in Pakistan.’ On the question of whether or not Blackwater or Xe have any private contracts or contracts with the Government of Pakistan I would refer you to Blackwater/XE.”

Three calls to the company were not returned.

History of distrust

Many of the stories circulating about Blackwater are far from substantiated. Even Awab Alvi, an early adopter of the rumors who tracks the topic on his blog, says that “there’s no concrete evidence” and that “of the 50 reports that come through, maybe one or two are right.” Many accounts come from the Pakistani paper The Nation, which last year drew criticism for calling an American journalist a spy, forcing him to leave the country.

But like many Pakistanis, Dr. Alvi can tick off decades’ worth of reasons not to give the US the benefit of the doubt – and why rumors of secret US-backed operations might find a receptive audience.

In the 1980s, the narrative goes, the US propped up dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq as an ally against the Soviets in Afghanistan. After the war ended, the US withdrew, leaving Pakistanis to cope with the guns, drugs, and refugees that spilled into their territory.

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