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Obama win may be good news for Pakistan flag-makers

November 07, 2012

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Pakistani shopkeeper Nadeem Mahmood Shah showing a US flag to his customer at his shop in Rawalpindi. — Photo by AFP

RAWALPINDI: Many Pakistanis fear President Barack Obama's re-election will mean a surge in America's unpopular drone campaign, but for those making and selling US flags to burn at protests this could be good news.

Demonstrations against Washington's programme of missile strikes against suspected al Qaeda and Taliban militants are common in Pakistan, and no protest is complete without a Stars and Stripes being sent up in flames.

Nadeem Shah, the owner of a flag business in Rawalpindi, the twin city of the capital Islamabad, said he expected more drone strikes -- and more protests.

“Of course Obama has become stronger now and he will push his policies harder and there will be more drone strikes because he himself is stronger now,” Shah told AFP.

“When the drone strikes increase the protests against these strikes will also increase in Pakistan and it can have an impact on the flags and poster business.”Pakistan's flag industry enjoyed a boom in September when a US-made anti-Islam film sparked weeks of demonstrations, almost all lit up with “Old Glory” being burned.

In Rawalpindi, US flags start at around 120 rupees ($1.25) but in Shah's shop 1,500 rupees will get you a three-square-metre number in cloth.

Shah said he was not hopeful of a stampede for his high-end products.

“As far as my own business is concerned I don't expect much out of it because I deal in expensive material and I don't think that many people will be buying that,” he said.

For more special coverage on the US Elections including exclusive blogs, features, comments, analysis and multimedia from correspondents around the world, go to: US Elections 2012 In-depth