Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pakistani Public Opinion: Pew Survey

Pakistani Public Opinion
Growing Concerns about Extremism, Continuing Discontent with U.S.
Pew global Attitudes Project, Released: 08.13.09


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. 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 Islamic extremism has grown even greater over the past year. No fewer than 69% of the Pakistanis questioned worry that extremists could take control of the country. At the same time, indifference and mixed opinions about both al Qaeda and the Taliban have given way to a strong condemnation of both groups. In 2008, just 33% held a negative view of the Taliban; today, 70% rate it unfavorably. Similarly, the percentage of Pakistanis with an unfavorable opinion of al Qaeda has jumped from 34% to 61% in the last year.

However, growing concern about Islamic extremism has not resulted in an improved view of the United States. Opinions of America and its people remain extremely negative. Barack Obama's global popularity is not evident in Pakistan, and America's image remains as tarnished in that country as it was in the Bush years. Only 22% of Pakistanis think the U.S. takes their interests into account when making foreign policy decisions, essentially unchanged from 21% since 2007. Fully 64% of the public regards the U.S. as an enemy, while only 9% describe it as a partner.

Further, many express serious concerns about the U.S.-led effort to combat terrorism, both globally and in Pakistan specifically. In particular, many who are aware of the drone strikes targeting extremist leaders believe these strikes are causing too many civilian deaths and are being carried out by the U.S. without the consent of the Pakistani government.

However, for all the anti-American sentiment, the new survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project also finds an openness to improving relations with the U.S. and considerable support for the idea of working with it to combat terrorism. By a margin of 53% to 29% Pakistanis say it is important that relations between the two countries improve.

Moreover, many endorse U.S. assistance for the Pakistani government in its fight with extremist groups.Nearly three-fourths of those interviewed (72%) would support U.S. financial and humanitarian aid to areas where extremist groups operate. As many as 63% back the idea of the U.S. providing intelligence and logistical support to Pakistani troops who are combating these groups. And after being asked about these forms of cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S., nearly half (47%) then say they would favor U.S. missile strikes against extremist leaders.

It is not surprising that American cooperation with the Pakistani military is popular, given the confidence that Pakistanis have in it. As many as 86% say the military is having a good influence on the country, which is far greater than the number who feel that way about the police (39%), courts (58%), and even religious leaders (64%). Just 36% say the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is having a good impact, although many respondents (41%) do not offer an opinion.

These are the latest findings from the 2009 Pew Global Attitudes survey of Pakistan. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 1,254 adults in Pakistan between May 22 and June 9, 2009. The sample, which is disproportionately urban, includes Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). However, portions of Baluchistan and the NWFP are not included because of instability. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were not surveyed. The area covered by the sample represents approximately 90% of the adult population.1 (Pakistan was surveyed as part of the Spring 2009 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, which included 24 nations and the Palestinian territories. For more findings from this survey, see "Confidence in Obama lifts U.S. Image around the World; Most Muslim Publics Not So Easily Moved," released July 23, 2009).

For complete summary/overview of the report, click here
For complete report (pdf), click here

Poll: Pakistanis oppose Taliban, still revile US - The Associated Press
More Pakistanis View Al-Qaeda, Taliban Negatively, Poll Finds - The Washington Post

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