Report by Will Storey
Today, The Pew Research Center has published a report on the opinions of the Pakistani people regarding, among other topics, America, the Taliban, India and the issue of extremism. The results indicate India is by and large the biggest threat to Pakistan, and that the American war on terror is anti-Muslim. Pew President Andrew Kohut spoke at the New America Foundation to discuss the results.
“There is not a Muslim public in the world that supports the U.S. war on terror,” said Kohut to a room of a few dozen students, reporters, and government officials. He explained that because the effort seems to be targeting only Muslims regardless of political ideology, it is “not legitimate” in the eyes of Pakistani people. That sentiment contributes to the mere 17% of people who have a favorable view of the U.S., and the 8% that have confidence in President Obama.
This news comes just as U.S. officials are revamping their efforts to work with Pakistan to oust the Taliban from the region.
When asked about the greatest threat facing Pakistan, 53% named India. The Taliban came in second with 23%. Kohut commented that because of the strong ties between India and the U.S., the countries are viewed as virtually one and the same. As concern over the Kashmir region of India grows, extremists such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda tend to fall by the wayside in the eyes of Pakistanis. In a similar poll conducted last year, 69% of participants said they were “very/somewhat worried” about extremists taking control of Pakistan, compared to 51% this year. 30% stated they are “not too/not at all worried”.
In regards to the Pakistani government itself, the military, specifically General Kayani, had a much higher approval rating (61%) than President Asif Ali Zadari (20%). Nawaz Sharif, Zardari’s political rival, boasted a 71% approval rating, one of the highest in the country. The majority of Pakistani people expressed support for harsh criminal punishments, including stoning of adulterers (82%) and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim faith (76%). Kohut commented that these figures contrast sharply with the people’s desire to modernize, a discrepancy that he could not explain.
Pew researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with 2,000 Pakistani Muslims representing mostly urban areas. The report is a part of the Global Attitude Project , which has spanned 57 countries in order to get a clear picture of issues affecting local citizens around the world.