Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pakistani Public Turns Against Taliban

Pakistani Public Turns Against Taliban, But Still Negative on US; July 1, 2009

Most Pakistanis now see the Pakistani Taliban as well as al Qaeda as a critical threat to the country--a major shift from 18 months ago--and support the government and army in their fight in the Swat Valley against the Pakistani Taliban. An overwhelming majority think that Taliban groups who seek to overthrow the Afghan government should not be allowed to have bases in Pakistan.

However, this does not bring with it a shift in attitudes toward the US. A large majority continue to have an unfavorable view of the US government. Almost two-thirds say they do not have confidence in Obama. An overwhelming majority opposes US drone attacks in Pakistan.

These are some of the results of a new poll conducted May 17-28, 2009. The nationwide random sample included 1000 Pakistani adults, selected using multi-stage probability sampling, who responded in face-to-face interviews. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percent.

"A sea change has occurred in Pakistani public opinion. The tactics and undemocratic bent of militant groups--in tribal areas as well as Swat--have brought widespread revulsion and turned Pakistanis against them," comments Clay Ramsay, research director. However, he adds: "It's crucial to understand that the US is resented just as much as before, despite the US having a new president."

There has been a huge increase in those who think the "activities of Islamist militants and local Taliban" are a critical threat to Pakistan--a 47 point rise to 81 percent, up from 34 percent in late 2007. If the Pakistani Taliban were to gain control of the country, 75 percent say this would be bad (very bad, 67%)--though only 33 percent think this outcome is likely.

Seventy percent say their sympathies are more with the government than with the Pakistani Taliban in the struggle over Swat. Large majorities express confidence in the government (69%) and the military (72%) to handle the situation. Retrospectively, the public leans (by 45% to 40%) toward thinking the government was right to try to make an agreement in which the Pakistani Taliban would shut down its camps and turn in its heavy weapons in return for a shari'a court system in Swat. But now 67 percent think the Pakistani Taliban violated the agreement when it sent its forces into more areas, and 63 percent think the people of Swat disapprove of the agreement.

For complete article, click here
For complete report (pdf), click here

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