Majority dislikes Taliban, dissatisfied with govt: survey
- From: Arun Bansi <arunbansi@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2010 00:34:01 -0700 (PDT)
By Anwar Iqbal and Masood Haider
WASHINGTON: Eighty-nine per cent Pakistanis surveyed by a leading US
research group say they think of themselves first as Pakistanis,
rather than as members of their ethnic groups.
American cooperation with the Pakistani military is popular, given the
confidence that Pakistanis have in it: survey.
The global attitudes survey by the Pew Research Centre, Washington,
also shows that eighty-six per cent Pakistanis believe the military is
having a good influence on the country.
The Pakistani media received very high ratings - seventy-seven per
cent say it is good for the country.
No Muslim country surveyed recorded majority support for suicide
bombing, Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. In Pakistan, only ten per cent
like Taliban and only 9 per cent support Al Qaeda.
As many as seventy per cent Pakistanis have unfavourable views of the
Taliban and sixty-one per cent reject Al Qaeda openly. Between thirty-
twenty per cent say they do not know the two groups well enough to
express an opinion.
Almost all Pakistanis see their country in crisis. They give their
national government lower ratings than at any time in this decade, and
almost no one is satisfied with national conditions.
President Asif Ali Zardari's ratings have plummeted: Last year, sixty-
four per cent people surveyed by Pew had a favourable opinion of him;
now just thirty-two per cent hold this view.
President Zardari is much less popular than the other public figures
tested: as many as seventy-nine per cent of those surveyed have
favourable views about opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, 67 per cent
like Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and sixty-one back Chief
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
The nation-state is of great significance to Pakistanis, and despite
important ethnic and regional differences, national identity is strong
throughout the country. Overall, eighty-nine per cent say they think
of themselves first as Pakistani, rather than as a member of the
ethnic group they come from.
It is not surprising that American cooperation with the Pakistani
military is popular, given the confidence that Pakistanis have in it.
As many as eighty-six per cent say the military is having a good
influence on the country, which is far greater than the number of
Pakistanis who feel that way about the police (thirty-nine per cent),
courts (fifty-eight per cent), and religious leaders (sixty-four per
Just thirty-six per cent say the Directorate for Inter-Services
Intelligence is having a good impact, although many respondents (forty-
one per cent) do not offer an opinion.
Pakistan is the only country surveyed to voice support for a nuclear-
Majorities in 10 countries, including Jordan, Egypt and Brazil, would
consider military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear
Crime and terrorism
Crime and terrorism are seen as major problems by virtually everyone.
And huge percentages of Pakistanis also see their country struggling
mightily with corruption and a deteriorating economy.
A long-standing concern about religious extremism has grown even
greater over the past year. No fewer than 69 per cent of the
Pakistanis questioned worry that extremists could take control of the
President Barack Obama's global popularity is not evident in Pakistan,
and Americas image remains as tarnished in that country as it was in
the Bush years.
Only twenty-two per cent of Pakistanis think the US takes their
interests into account when making foreign policy decisions,
essentially unchanged from twenty-one per cent since 2007. Sixty-four
per cent of the public regards the US as an enemy, while only 9 per
cent describe it as a partner.
Many express serious concerns about the US-led effort to combat
terrorism. However, for all the anti-American sentiment, the survey
also finds an openness to improving relations with the US. By a margin
of 53 per cent to 29 per cent Pakistanis say it is important that
relations between the two countries improve.
Ties with India and China
Long-running concerns about India are also reflected in the poll. The
dispute over Kashmir is cited as a major problem facing Pakistan by no
fewer than eighty-eight per cent. And growing worries about extremism
notwithstanding, more Pakistanis judge India as a very serious threat
to the nation (sixty-nine per cent) than regard the Taliban (fifty-
seven per cent) or Al Qaeda (forty-one per cent) as very serious
threats. Most Pakistanis see the US as on the wrong side of this
issue: by a margin of fifty-four per cent to 4 per cent the US is seen
as favouring India over Pakistan.
Pakistanis express overwhelmingly positive opinions about another
Asian giant - eighty-four per cent have a favourable view of China and
eighty per cent consider China a partner to their country.
The poll finds broad support for harsh punishments: seventy-sight per
cent favour death for those who leave Islam; eighty per cent favour
whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery; and
eighty-three per cent favour stoning adulterers.
As many as 87 per cent of Pakistanis believe it is equally important
for boys and girls to be educated. The poll also finds that support
for suicide bombings that target civilians in defence of Islam remains
very low. Only 5 per cent of Pakistani Muslims believe these kinds of
attacks can often or sometimes be justified; as recently as 2004
roughly four-in-ten (forty-one per cent) held this view. Fully eighty-
seven per cent now say such attacks can never be justified - the
highest percentage among the Muslim publics included in the 2009
Both the Taliban and Al Qaeda groups are unpopular across the board.
Among all the major subgroups within Pakistani society analysed in the
study, negative views of the Taliban and Al Qaeda outweigh positive
views. Support for both groups is low even among those who agree with
some of the severe punishments endorsed by the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Still, those who disagree with these harsh measures are somewhat more
likely to express an unfavourable view of both groups.
Taliban and Al Qaeda tend to be unpopular across regions, including in
areas where government forces are currently fighting extremist groups.
However, Sindh stands out as the region with the most negative views.
For example, eighty-two per cent in Sindh have a negative opinion of
the Taliban, compared with seventy-five per cent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
and sixty-seven per cent in Punjab. More than half in Balochistan do
not offer opinions about the Taliban or Al Qaeda.
Analysis of the data shows that people who think extremist groups may
be able to seize control of the country are more likely to voice
negative views about the Taliban.
About seven-in-ten (seventy-two per cent) want the US and Nato to
withdraw their troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Only
sixteen per cent approve of President Obama's decision to send more
troops to Afghanistan.
In 2008, fifty-three per cent said the economy would improve in the
next twelve months. This year, only twenty-three per cent believe the
economy will get better.
While views about national conditions are overwhelmingly negative,
most Pakistanis are upbeat about their personal lives - seventy-four
per cent say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their overall
lives, and most are satisfied with their family lives and incomes.
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