Poll: Pakistan Sours on Extremism
A new Pew Research poll offers some very useful data on the current mood in Pakistan:
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.
And on India:
And growing worries about extremism notwithstanding, more Pakistanis judge India as a very serious threat to the nation (69%) than regard the Taliban (57%) or al Qaeda (41%) as very serious threats. Most Pakistanis see the U.S. as on the wrong side of this issue: by a margin of 54% to 4% the U.S. is seen as favoring India over Pakistan.
Perhaps the most interesting finding is that only 32% of Pakistanis had even heard of U.S. missile strikes on Pakistan's territory. I would think something like that would garner more attention. Given that figure, it appears that fears that American drone attacks might destabilize Pakistan could be overblown.