Archive for the ‘Opinion Polls’ Category
On 9/11 I participated in a discussion program on completion of 10 years of 9/11 incidence. The host of the program is Mehr uddin Afzal & other participant is Noaman Asr. Trust it will be informative for you. 🙂
New PEW Report : America’s Image Remains Poor
July 29, 2010
Pakistanis remain in a grim mood about the state of their country. Overwhelming majorities are dissatisfied with national conditions, unhappy with the nation’s economy, and concerned about political corruption and crime. Only one-in-five express a positive view of President Asif Ali Zardari, down from 64% just two years ago.
As Pakistani forces continue to battle extremist groups within the country, nearly all Pakistanis describe terrorism as a very big problem. However, they have grown markedly less concerned that extremists might take control of the country.
Last year, at a time when the Pakistani military was taking action against Taliban forces in the Swat Valley within 100 miles of the nation’s capital, 69% were very or somewhat worried about extremist groups taking control of Pakistan. Today, just 51% express concern about an extremist takeover.
More specifically, Pakistanis also feel less threatened by the Taliban and much less by al Qaeda. Last year, 73% rated the Taliban a serious threat, compared with 54% now. Roughly six-in-ten (61%) considered al Qaeda a serious threat last year; now, just 38% feel this way.
Nonetheless, both the Taliban and al Qaeda remain unpopular among Pakistanis — 65% give the Taliban an unfavorable rating and 53% feel this way about al Qaeda. Negative views toward these groups have become a little less prevalent over the past year, while positive views have crept up slightly.
Still, opinions are much more negative today than was the case two years ago, when roughly one-third expressed an unfavorable view of both groups, one-quarter gave them a positive rating and four-in-ten offered no opinion.
Pakistanis express more mixed views about another militant organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani group active in Kashmir that has often attacked Indian targets (it is widely blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks). Just 35% have a negative view of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a much lower percentage than for the other extremist organizations tested. One-in-four Pakistanis express a positive assessment, while 40% offer no opinion. Essentially, views toward Lashkar-e-Taiba resemble Pakistani views about the Taliban and al Qaeda prior to 2009, when the balance of public opinion shifted from indifference to opposition to those groups.
Less Support for U.S. Involvement
America’s overall image remains negative in Pakistan. Along with Turks and Egyptians, Pakistanis give the U.S. its lowest ratings among the 22 nations included in the spring 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey — in all three countries, only 17% have a favorable view of the U.S. Roughly six-in-ten (59%) Pakistanis describe the U.S. as an enemy, while just 11% say it is a partner. And President Barack Obama is unpopular — only 8% of Pakistanis express confidence that he will do the right thing in world affairs, his lowest rating among the 22 nations.
Moreover, support for U.S. involvement in the fight against extremists has waned over the last year. Fewer Pakistanis now want the U.S. to provide financial and humanitarian aid to areas where extremist groups operate, or for the U.S. to provide intelligence and logistical support to Pakistani troops fighting extremists, although about half of those surveyed still favor these efforts. There is also little support for U.S. drone strikes against extremist leaders — those who are aware of these attacks generally say they are not necessary, and overwhelmingly they believe the strikes kill too many civilians.
The U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan is widely opposed by Pakistanis. Nearly two-thirds (65%) want U.S. and NATO troops removed as soon as possible. And relatively few Pakistanis believe the situation in Afghanistan could have a serious impact on their country: 25% think it would be bad for Pakistan if the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan and 18% say it would be good; 27% think it would not matter and 30% have no opinion.
Nonetheless, despite the prevalence of negative opinions about the U.S., most Pakistanis want better relations between the two countries. Nearly two-in-three (64%) say it is important for relations with the U.S. to improve, up from 53% last year.
These are the latest findings from a spring 2010 survey of Pakistan by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 2,000 adults in Pakistan April 13 to 28, 2010. The sample, which is disproportionately urban, includes Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province, or NWFP). However, portions of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are not included because of instability. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), as well as Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly the Federally Administered Northern Areas, or FANA) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, were not surveyed. The area covered by the sample represents approximately 84% of the adult population.1 (Pakistan was surveyed as part of the Spring 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, which included 22 nations. For more findings from this survey, see “Obama More Popular Abroad Than at Home, Global Image of U.S. Continues to Benefit,” released June 17, 2010).
India Seen as a Threat
While Pakistanis express serious concerns about the U.S., they also have deep worries about their neighbor and longtime rival India. Indeed, they are more worried about the external threat from India than extremist groups within Pakistan. When asked which is the greatest threat to their country — India, the Taliban or al Qaeda — slightly more than half of Pakistanis (53%) choose India, compared with 23% for the Taliban and just 3% for al Qaeda.
However, despite the deep-seated tensions between these two countries, most Pakistanis want better relations with India. Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) say it is important for relations with India to improve and about three-quarters support increased trade with India and further talks between the two rivals.
A Bleak View of National Conditions
Few Pakistanis are happy with the state of their nation — only 14% are satisfied with national conditions, while 84% say they are dissatisfied.
Views of the economy are almost as grim. More than three-in-four (78%) say the country’s economy is in bad shape. Moreover, there is growing pessimism about Pakistan’s economic future. Half of the public expects the country’s economic situation to worsen over the next 12 months, up from 35% in the 2009 survey.
Almost all Pakistanis say the lack of jobs is a major problem facing their nation, although economic issues are not the only challenges widely perceived. Vast majorities characterize terrorism, crime, illegal drugs, political corruption, the situation in Kashmir and environmental issues as very big problems.
The gloomy national mood has clearly had an impact on evaluations of President Zardari — just 20% have a favorable view of him, compared with 64% in 2008 and 32% in 2009. Even among his own political party — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — fewer than four-in-ten (38%) express a positive opinion of Zardari. Other leaders receive higher marks, however, including Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who is also affiliated with PPP. Most respondents have positive views of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan. Among the political figures tested, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif receives the highest ratings — 71% have a positive opinion of the leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, head of the Pakistani Army, is also generally well-regarded, with 61% voicing a favorable view of him. More broadly, the Pakistani military is overwhelmingly popular: 84% of Pakistanis say the military is having a good impact on their country. And, on balance, Pakistanis tend to support the army’s ongoing efforts to fight extremist groups in the FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 49% approve of these efforts, while just 20% oppose and 30% have no opinion.
Widespread Support for Harsh Laws
More than four-in-ten Pakistanis see a struggle taking place between Islamic fundamentalists and groups that want to modernize the country; and the vast majority of those who do see a struggle identify with the modernizers.
Nonetheless, many Pakistanis endorse extreme views about law, religion and society. More than eight-in-ten support segregating men and women in the workplace, stoning adulterers and whipping and cutting off the hands of thieves. Roughly three-in-four endorse the death penalty for those who leave Islam.
Thus, even though Pakistanis largely reject extremist organizations, they embrace some of the severe laws advocated by such groups. Still, Pakistanis differ sharply with the Taliban and al Qaeda when it comes to a tactic associated with both groups: suicide bombing. Fully 80% of Pakistani Muslims say suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians can never be justified to defend Islam, the highest percentage among the Muslim publics surveyed. As recently as six years ago, only 35% held this view.
Also of Note:
- There is no consensus among Pakistanis about the size of American assistance to their country — 23% believe the U.S. provides a lot of financial aid, 22% say it provides a little aid, 10% say hardly any and 16% believe the U.S. gives Pakistan no aid.
- Attitudes toward China remain positive — 84% consider China a partner to Pakistan.
- Over the last five years, Pakistani Muslims have become less likely to believe Islam plays a major role in the country’s politics. Currently, 47% say it has a large role, compared with 63% in 2005.
- The dispute over Kashmir remains a major issue. Roughly eight-in-ten say it is very important that Pakistan and India resolve this issue, and 71% rate it a very big problem.
- Pakistan’s often freewheeling media gets high marks from respondents — 76% say it is having a good influence on the country.
People in 17 of 21 Nations Say Governments Should Put International Law Ahead of National Interest
November 2, 2009
Most Trust World Court to Be Fair
A poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org finds that most people in 17 of 21 nations surveyed say their government should abide by international law and reject the view that governments are not obliged to follow such laws when they conflict with the national interest.
Most respondents in two out of three nations polled are also confident that the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, would treat their country fairly and impartially, the WPO poll shows.
The poll, conducted in 21 nations from around the world asked respondents which of two statements is closest to their own view. The first statement said, “Our nation should consistently follow international laws. It is wrong to violate international laws, just as it is wrong to violate laws within a country”: the second said, “If our government thinks it is not in our nation’s interest, it should not feel obliged to abide by international laws.”
On average, across all nations polled, 57% said that their country should put a higher priority on international law than national interest.
WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted the poll of 20,202 respondents in 21 nations that comprise 64 percent of the world’s population. This includes most of the largest nations–China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Russia–as well as Mexico, Chile, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Ukraine, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, and South Korea. Polling was also conducted in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Not all questions were asked to all nations. The margins of error range from +/-3 to 4 percentage points. The surveys were conducted across the different nations between April 4 and July 9, 2009.
WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative project involving research centers from around the world, is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
Support for abiding by international law is strongest in China, where 74% of those polled on the mainland say their government should abide by international law, while just 18% say the national interest should take precedence.
Belief in the primacy of international law was also strong in the United States Europe, Africa and the rest of the Far East. Seventy percent of Germans, 69% of Americans, 68% of Taiwanese, and 65% of Kenyans and Nigerians put international law ahead of their national interest.
The only nations where a majority says the national interest justifies violating international law were Pakistan, where 56% give priority to their national interest and 38% favor compliance with international law, and Mexico, 53% to 44%. Each has a longstanding alliance with the United States that has been marked over the years by significant concessions to Washington, which may suggest that the people of the two nations are wary of international commitments that are not to their benefit.
Also, views are divided in Turkey and the Palestinian Territories on this question.
Confidence in the World Court, which adjudicates cases involving international law, is also widespread. The court, which is based in The Hague and began operations in 1946, is the principal judicial body of the United Nations and consists of 15 justices from around the world.
Respondents in 20 nations were asked if there were a case involving their country, “how confident are you that the Court’s decision would be fair and impartial?” Most respondents in 13 nations say they would be somewhat or very confident, while five countries say they are not very confident or not confident at all.
On average 54% say that they would be at least somewhat confident that the Court would be fair, while 36% express a lack of confidence. Majorities also express confidence in Taiwan (54%), Hong Kong (58%), and Macau (65%).
Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, comments: “It appears that publics around the world show a fairly strong internationalist orientation. Most favor subordinating national interest to international law and are ready to trust the World Court to be impartial.”
Confidence in the world court is strongest among Kenyans, where 79% say they are confident a case involving their country would be decided freely and fairly. Seventy-four percent of Germans are confident, 73% of Poles, 67% of Egyptians, and 66% of Nigerians.
Majorities express a lack of confidence in the court in five nations, in most cases by modest majorities–South Korea (59%), Mexico (53%), the Palestinian territories (52%), Turkey (51%), and Indonesia (51%).
It appears that people in nearly all nations have a tendency to underestimate the support for international law among their fellow citizens. Respondents were asked whether they think their own support for consistently abiding by international laws is greater or less than that of the average citizen in their country. If people as a whole were estimating their fellow citizens correctly, those saying that others are more supportive would be equal to those saying others are less supportive.
However, in 14 of the 16 nations asked this question, plus Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, many more said that they were more supportive of abiding by international law than said they were less supportive. On average, 48% said they were more supportive, while just 28% said they were less supportive.
Kull comments, “Clearly people are underestimating how ready others are to consistently abide by international law. People tend to think they are above average.”
A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 24 nations from around the world finds a widespread perception of a serious lack of political tolerance. Large majorities perceive that people in their nation are not completely free to express unpopular views, that opposition parties do not get a fair chance to express their views and try to influence government decision, and that legislators have limited freedom to express views that differ from their political party.
The poll, sponsored by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and released in conjunction with International Democracy Day, also finds overwhelming support throughout the world for the principle that diversity of political expression should be allowed, and support for democracy more broadly.
WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted the poll of 21,285 respondents in 24 nations that comprise 64 percent of the world’s population. This includes most of the largest nations–China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and South Africa–as well as Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Israel, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Palestine. The margins of error range from +/-2 to 4 percentage points. The surveys were conducted across the different nations between April 4 and June 30, 2009. Not all questions were asked in all nations.
A statement on the global poll, issued by IPU President Theo-Ben Gurirab is available at www.ipu.org/dem-e/idd/statement09.pdf.
When asked how free they think people are to express unpopular views in their country, without fear of being harassed or punished, in no nations does a majority of people say they are completely free. On average across all nations polled, just 24 percent say people in their country are completely free to express unpopular political views, 42 percent that they are somewhat free, and 30 percent that they are not very free.
Asked how often opposition parties get “a fair chance to express their views and try to influence government,” in only 4 out of 21 nations do majorities say “most of the time.” On average only 37 percent say “most of the time,” while nearly six in ten say “only sometimes” (38%) or “rarely” (20%).
Asked how often members of the legislature “feel free to express views that differ from the official views of their own political party,” in only one country does a majority consider that legislators feel free most of the time, while in 20 out of 23 nations, a majority says legislators feel free only sometimes or rarely. On average, only 28 percent say that legislators feel free to express divergent views most of the time while more than two out of three say only sometimes (37%) or rarely (29%).
These perceptions of a lack of political tolerance are in sharp contrast to overwhelming support for the freedom to express diverse views. Asked “How important do you think it is for people to be free to express unpopular political views, without fear of being harassed or punished?” majorities in all nations say such freedom is very or somewhat important. On average 86 percent say this freedom is important, and 58 percent call it very important.
“Around the world we find a remarkable consensus that a diversity of political views should be tolerated, together with a widespread perception that such diversity is not fully tolerated in society in general, or even in the functioning of legislatures,” comments Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org.
The poll also found strong support for democracy in general. Asked “How important is it for you to live in a country that is governed democratically?” majorities in all 24 nations say it is very or somewhat important. In no country do those calling this unimportant exceed about one in four. On average across all nations polled, 90 percent say it is important to live in a democratically governed country, and 67 percent say it is very important.
People who support greater political tolerance are also more apt to support democracy. Among those who say it is very important for people to be free to express unpopular political views, 80 percent said it is very important to live in a country that is governed democratically, but this drops to 48 percent among those who say such freedom is just somewhat important and to 41 percent among those who say it is not important at all.
Though none of the nations polled have parity in gender representation in their national legislatures, views are mixed on whether women are fairly represented. On average across all countries polled, a modest majority of men think women are fairly represented, but a plurality of women think they are not. In 12 nations a majority says that women are fairly represented (as does a plurality in one more); in eight nations a majority says they are not.
There is also wide variation in perceptions of how fairly ethnic, religious or national minorities are represented in national legislatures, though overall views lean in the direction that minorities are not fairly represented. Asked how fairly “minorities, including ethnic, religious, or national minorities” are represented in the national legislature, eight nations have a plurality or majority saying that they are fairly represented. Ten nations say they are not fairly represented and five nations are evenly divided.
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).
Concerns About India
Long-running concerns about India are also reflected in the poll. The dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir is cited as a major problem facing the country by no fewer than 88%. 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.
While fears about India persist, Pakistanis express overwhelmingly positive opinions about another Asian giant — 84% have a favorable view of China and 80% consider China a partner to their country.
Support for Severe Laws
One of the ironies in the survey is the extent to which Pakistanis embrace some of the severe laws associated with the Taliban and al Qaeda, even as they reject Islamic extremism and these extremist groups. The new poll finds broad support for harsh punishments: 78% favor death for those who leave Islam; 80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery; and 83% favor stoning adulterers.
Pakistani public opinion departs significantly from the Taliban on the issues of girls’ education and extremist violence. As many as 87% of Pakistanis believe it is equally important for boys and girls to be educated. The poll also finds that support for suicide bombing that targets civilians in defense of Islam remains very low. Only 5% of Pakistani Muslims believe these kinds of attacks can often or sometimes be justified; as recently as 2004 roughly four-in-ten (41%) held this view. Fully 87% now say such attacks can never be justified — the highest percentage among the Muslim publics included in the 2009 survey.
Breaking Down Views Toward the Taliban and al Qaeda
Analysis of the survey data finds a number of important patterns regarding views of the Taliban and al Qaeda. First, both groups are unpopular across the board. Among all the major subgroups within Pakistani society analyzed in the study, negative views of the Taliban and al Qaeda outweigh positive views.
Second, support for both groups is low even among those who agree with some of the severe punishments endorsed by the Taliban and al Qaeda, such as stoning adulterers, cutting off the hands of thieves and executing people who leave Islam. Still, those who disagree with these harsh measures are somewhat more likely to express an unfavorable view of both groups. For instance, among Pakistanis who support the death penalty for people who leave Islam, 69% have a negative view of the Taliban, while 77% of those who oppose the death penalty in such cases give the Taliban a negative rating.
Third, education plays a role in views about extremism. Pakistanis with higher levels of education are consistently more likely to reject the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Fourth, the Taliban and al Qaeda tend to be unpopular across regions, including the NWFP, where government forces are currently fighting extremist groups. However, Sindh stands out as the region with the most negative views. For example, 82% in Sindh have a negative opinion of the Taliban, compared with 75% in the NWFP and 67% in Punjab. More than half in Baluchistan do not offer opinions about the Taliban or al Qaeda.
Fifth, and perhaps unsurprisingly, views about the Taliban are linked to the extent to which people believe the country is threatened by extremist groups. 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, which has been engaged in armed-conflict with the Pakistani military.
Also of Note:
The nation-state is of great significance to Pakistanis, and despite important ethnic and regional differences, national identity is strong throughout the country. Overall, 89% say they think of themselves first as Pakistani, rather than as a member of their ethnic group.
- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s ratings have plummeted: Last year, 64% had a favorable opinion of him; now just 32% hold this view.
Zardari is much less popular than the other public figures tested: opposition leader Nawaz Sharif (79% favorable), Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani (67%) and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (61%).
About seven-in-ten (72%) want the U.S. and NATO to remove their military troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Only 16% approve of Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.
- In 2008, 53% said the economy would improve in the next 12 months. This year, only 23% believe the economy will get better.
The Pakistani media receives very high ratings — 77% say it is having a good influence on the country.
While views about national conditions are overwhelmingly negative, most Pakistanis are upbeat about their personal lives — 74% say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their overall lives, and most are satisfied with their family lives and incomes. Nonetheless, compared with other nations, levels of personal satisfaction in Pakistan are relatively low.
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 WorldPublicOpinion.org 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.
On the Afghan Taliban, an overwhelming 87 percent think that groups fighting to overthrow the Afghan government should not be allowed to have bases in Pakistan. Most (77%) do not believe the Afghan Taliban has bases in Pakistan. However, if Pakistan’s government were to identify such bases in the country, three in four (78%) think it should close the bases even if it requires using military force.
Public attitudes toward al Qaeda training camps follow the same pattern. Those saying the “activities of al Qaeda” are a critical threat to Pakistan are up 41 points to 82 percent. Almost all (88%) think al Qaeda should not be allowed to operate training camps in Pakistan. Though 76 percent do not believe there are such camps, if the Pakistani government were to identify them, 74 percent say the government should close them, with force if necessary.
This striking new public willingness to see the government directly oppose Taliban groups and al Qaeda owes little or nothing to an “Obama effect.” A 62 percent majority expresses low confidence in President Obama to do the right thing in world affairs (none at all, 41%). Only one in three (32%) think his policies will be better for Pakistan; 62 percent think they will be about the same (26%) or worse (36%).
Views of the US remain overwhelmingly negative. Sixty-nine percent have an unfavorable view of the current US government (58% very unfavorable)–essentially the same as in 2008. Eighty-eight percent think it is a US goal to weaken and divide the Islamic world (78% definitely a goal). The US Predator drone attacks aimed at militant camps within the Pakistani border are rejected by 82 percent as unjustified. On the war in Afghanistan, 72 percent disapprove of the NATO mission and 79 percent want it ended now; 86 percent think most Afghans want the mission ended as well.
Asked about the nation’s leaders, a large majority–68 percent–views President Zardari unfavorably (very, 50%), but–unlike the recent past–there are multiple national leaders whom most do view favorably. Prime Minister Gilani is seems untarred by negative views of Zardari and gets favorable ratings from 80 percent of Pakistanis. The restored Chief Justice Chaudry is very popular (82%), and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif is extremely popular (87%). The leader most associated with the Pakistani Taliban, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, is viewed positively by only 18 percent of Pakistanis.
WorldPublicOpinion.org is a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. Funding for this research was provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Calvert Foundation.
A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of nations around the world finds that most publics polled believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave Afghanistan now.
On average 53 percent have this belief, while 30 percent assume that most Afghans want NATO forces to stay.
Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave, 76 percent say that NATO forces should leave. Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to stay, 83 percent say NATO forces should stay. Overall, on average, 37 percent think that NATO forces should remain in Afghanistan, while 50 percent think the mission should be ended now.
At the same time there is considerable concern about the possibility of the Taliban regaining power. In 18 of 20 nations polled most think that it would be bad if the Taliban were to regain power in Afghanistan, with an average of 61 percent saying that it would be bad and just 21 percent saying that it would be good. In Pakistan, where many Afghan Taliban insurgents are based, 61 percent of the public also say that it would be bad if the Taliban were to regain power.
“Even though there is widespread concern about the possibility of the Taliban regaining power in Afghanistan, most people seem to be saying that the Afghan people should decide whether or when NATO forces leave,” comments Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org.
WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted the poll of 19,178 respondents in 20 nations that comprise 62 percent of the world’s population. This includes most of the largest nations–China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia–as well as Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and South Korea. Polling was also conducted in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative project involving research centers from around the world, is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. The margins of error range from +/-3 to 4 percentage points. The surveys were conducted across the different nations between April 4 and June 18, 2009.
The belief that most Afghans want NATO forces out is especially widespread in majority-Muslim nations, including Pakistan (86%), the Palestinian territories (74%), and Egypt (67%). However, this view is also widely held in Russia (63%), Germany (55%), and Mexico (76%).
The belief that the Afghan people want NATO to stay is the dominant position only in India (57%), the US (56%), Nigeria (53%), Kenya (52%), and the majority-Muslim nation of Azerbaijan (44% to 36%).
Within every nation people’s assumptions about the attitudes of the Afghan public are highly correlated with their attitudes about continuing the operation.
So how do the Afghan people feel? The most recent polling in Afghanistan was conducted by ABC/BBC/ARD in January of this year. At that time a majority of 59 percent of Afghans supported the NATO forces’ presence in the country. However, this was down from 67 percent who favored it in 2007, and majorities also expressed frustration with the way the mission was being conducted.
In the WPO poll, national assumptions about Afghan public attitudes are also reflected in national attitudes about the recent increase in US troops in Afghanistan. On average, 54 percent disapprove of the increase and 34 percent approve. However, in all of the nations where more believe that Afghans support the NATO presence, most people support the increase. In nearly all of the nations where more believe that Afghans oppose NATO presence, most people oppose the increase.
The two exceptions to this pattern are Britain and Iraq. Though in both cases pluralities believe that Afghans want NATO to leave, in Britain a plurality (50%) approves of the increase and in Iraq views are divided.
Asked how they feel about the UN-authorized NATO mission to stabilize Afghanistan and defend against the Taliban, views are divided. Nine nations approve, while 10 disapprove. On average 44 percent approve and 45 percent disapprove. Here again, attitudes are highly correlated with assumptions about the attitudes of the Afghan people.
Funding for this project was provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Calvert Foundation.