Kashif Hafeez Siddiqui

Posts Tagged ‘US’

Public Opinion in Pakistan: Concern About Extremist Threat Slips

In Opinion Polls on August 5, 2010 at 12:30 pm

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.

Source : http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1683/pakistan-opinion-less-concern-extremists-america-image-poor-india-threat-support-harsh-laws

نئے دو قومی نظریے کی ضرورت

In pakistan on June 8, 2010 at 5:52 am

By Pareshan Gull

وہ سادہ لوح پاکستانی جو درسی کتابوں میں ناقابلِ تسخیر ملکی دفاع اور دشمنوں کے دانت کٹھے کرنے کے مظاہروں پر مشتمل ایمان افروز قصے پڑھ پڑھ کر پاکستان کے دفاع کو واقع سیسہ پلائی ہوئی دیوار سمجھنے لگے تھے اب قبائلی علاقوں پر امریکی ڈرونز کے پے در پے حملوں پر نہایت غصے میں بھرے بیٹھے ہیں اور انہیں سمجھ نہیں آرہی کہ وہ جری فوج جو دشمن کی ذرہ بھر جارحیت کا نصابی کتابوں میں منہ توڑ جواب دیا کرتی تھی برستے میزائلوں کی بارش میں بھی اب ٹس سے مس کیوں نہیں ہو رہی۔ نسیم حجازی کے جوش آور ناولوں میں زندہ رہنے والے یہ بے چارے پاکستانی اتنا نہیں جانتے کہ دورِ جدید میں زمینی تقاضوں کے بدلنے سے اندازِ دفاع میں بھی بنیادی تبدیلیاں آئی ہیں چناچہ اب خالد کی تلواریاٹیپو کی للکاربننے کی بجائے امریکہ کا حاشیہ بردارہو جانازیادہ فائدے کا سودا ہے۔

ضروریات جدیدہ سے نابلد یہ بے چارے نئی رت کے اس پیغام کو سمجھ نہیں پارہے کہ ملکی خود مختاری کا وہ فرسودہ تصور جو صدیوں سے اقوامِ عالم کے درمیان کشت و خون کی وجہ تھا اب کم از کم پاکستان نے اس سے جان چھڑا کر اہنسا کی وہ پر امن راہ اختیار کی ہے کہ سابقہ تما م نظریات کوباطل ثابت کر دیا ہے۔ پاکستان کے خلاق دفاع کاروں کے وضع کردہ اس انوکھے نظریہ خود مختاری کے مطابق ڈرون حملوں ، غیر ملکی ایجنسیوں کی آزادانہ خرمستیوں اور طاقتور استعمار کے آگے ناک رگڑنے سے کسی ملک کی خود مختاری پر کوئی فرق نہیں پڑتا ۔ جدت طرازی کے اس نادر نمونے کا خلاصہ یہ ہے کہ جب تک پاکستان کے محترم حکمرا ن عوام کو بے وقوف بنانے کے اپنے دیرینہ شغل میں آزاد ہیں ، جب تک ان کی بد عنوانی و اقربا پروری پر کسی کو انگلی اٹھانے کی اجازت نہیں ، جب تک ان کی شراب و کباب کی محفلوں پر قدغن لگانے والا کوئی نہیں پاکستان خود مختار ہے چاہے اس کے درو دیوار ڈرون حملوں سے لرزتے رہیں، چاہے اس کے کوچہ و بازارغیر ممالک کی خفیہ ایجنسیوں کے ہاتھوں بم دھماکوں کا تختہ مشق بنے رہیں اور چاہے وہ عالمی استعمار کے ہاتھوں کٹھ پتلی کی طرح ناچ ناچ کر پاگل ہوتا رہے۔
ہم یہ تو نہیں جانتے کہ پاکستان کے کس شتر مرغ نے امریکی آندھی سے ڈر کر اس نئے نظریے کی ریت میں سب سے پہلے اپنا سر چھپانے کی کوشش کی لیکن اتنا بحرحال اندازہ لگایا جا سکتا ہے کہ یہ مشرف دور کا تحفہ ہے کہ ایسی منفرد اختراعات اسی کے دور میں جنم لے سکتی تھیں۔مشرف اور اس کے قابل مشیر اس کبوتر سے یقیناََ زیادہ ذہین تھے جو بلی کو دیکھ کر آنکھیں بند کر لیتا ہے کہ وہ صرف آنکھیں ہی بند کرنے کے ہی قائل نہ تھے بلکہ جارح بلی سے مل کر اپنے ہم نسلوں کا قتلِ عام کروا کے اپنی کھال بچانے کے سنہری اصول پربھی کار فرما تھے۔حکومتِ موجودہ نے نہ صرف مشرف سے ورثے میں ملنے والے اس انوکھے نظریہ خودمختاری کا دل و جاں سے تحفظ کیا ہے بلکہ اس کی تابانی کو چار چاند لگانے کے لیے دن رات ایک کر دیے ہیں۔ مشرف کی آمریت میں ہماری خودمختاری کی نمائش کے لیے امریکا اگر ایک ماہ میں چار حملے کرتا تھا تو اب دورِ جمہوریت کی برکت سے یہی تعداد چالیس تک جا پہنچی ہے۔ہماری خودمختاری کی عالمی سطح پر تشہیر کے بعد بھی ہمیں حیرت ہے کہ ہمارے وزرائے کرام کو جانے کس کو سنانے کے لیے وقتاََ فوقتاََ یہ بیان داغنے پڑتے ہیں کہ پاکستان کی خودمختاری پر کوئی آنچ نہیں آنے دی جائے گی۔ پاکستان کی خودمختاری اب مجذوبیت کے اس ارفع مقام تک جاپہنچی ہے جہاں واقع ساری دنیا بھی اگر چاہے تو اسے آنچ نہیں دے سکتی اس لیے ہم نہیں سمجھتے کہ ہمارے معزز وزرا کو اس موضع پر اپنا زورِ بیان صرف کرنے کی ضرورت ہے۔
ڈرون حملوں میں جاں بحق ہونے والے مظلو موں کے بارے میں ہمارا قیاس یہ ہے کہ یہ کسی دوسری دنیا کے باشندے ہیں کیونکہ اگر ان کا اس دیس سے تعلق ہوتا تو ’ ہم ایک ہیں ‘ کی دھنوں پر تھرکنے والے وہ عوام جو ٹرانسپورٹ کے کرایوں میں چند روپوں کے اضافے پر یا بجلی کی چند گھنٹے عدم دستیابی پرسٹرکوں پر نکل سکتے ہیں ان بے چاروں پر ہر روز اترنی والی آگ و آہن کی بارش پر بے حسی کی چادر تانے یوں بے نیاز نظر نہ آتے۔ ہماری احیائے نو پانے والی عدلیہ جو کسی معمولی زیادتی پر بھی سو موٹو ایکشن لینے کے لیے ہمہ وقت تیار رہتی ہے ڈرون حملوں میں بے نام پاکستانیوں کے قتلِ عام پر لب کھولتے ہوئے اس بے چاری کے بھی پر جلتے ہیں چناچہ اس نے یہ کہہ کر کہ قبائلی علاقے اس کے دائرہِ اختیار میں نہیں آتے سارے جھنجٹوں سے جان چھٹر ا لی ہے ۔ ہمیں حیرت ہے کہ سوات میں فلمائی گئی کوڑوں والی جعلی ویڈیو پر تو ہماری عدلیہ کے سو موٹو کا ہتھیار فوراََ حرکت میں آ جاتا ہے لیکن صیہونی حملوں میں مارے جانے والے سینکٹروں بے گناہوں کے خونِ نا حق پر اس کے احساسِ عدل میں کوئی ابال نہیں آتا!!
ہمارے میڈیا کا غالب حصہ بھی، ماسوائے چند باضمیر اردو روزناموں کے ، ہر ڈرون حملے پر یوں انہونی خوشی کا اظہار کرتا ہے جیسے اس کی کامیابی پر حملہ کروانے والے جاسوسوں کے ساتھ ساتھ اس پر بھی ڈالروں کے انعام کی بارش ہو گی۔انگریزی روزناموں اور چینلز کا تو ذکر ہی کیا کہ یہ بے چارے تو دل وجان کا مغرب سے کب کا سودا کر چکے اب تو متعدد اردو روزنامے اور ٹی۔وی چینلز بھی ڈرون سے فائر کیے گئے میزائلوں کے گرنے سے پہلے ہی یہ جانتے ہیں کہ اس میں دہشت گرد ہلاک ہوں گے۔ یہ دہشت گرد شیر خوار بچے بھی ہو سکتے ہیں، پردہ نشیں عورتیں بھی ہو سکتی ہیں اور ضعیف العمر بوڑھے بھی ۔جس طرح حملہ آورامریکی ڈرونزسے ہمارے میڈیا کی رو حانی وابستگی ان پر بر وقت یہ الہام نازل کر دیتی ہے کہ اس حملے کا نشانہ صرف دہشت گرد ہی بنیں گے اسی طرح انہیں یہ بھی فوراََ پتہ چل جاتا ہے کہ نشانہ اجل بننے والوں میں متعدد غیر ملکی بھی ہوں گے۔شاید حکمرانوں کی دیکھا دیکھی اب ہمارے میڈیا نے بھی تاریخ سے یہ سبق سیکھ لیا ہے کہ امریکہ کے تلوے چاٹنے سے ہی معدے میں وہ خوشگوار اثرات پیدا ہوتے ہیں جس سے صحت دن دگنی ترقی کرسکتیہے۔
پاکستان میں سیاسی جماعتوں کے نام پر کام کرنے والے مفاد پرستوں کے وہ ٹولے جن کی پاکستانیت عموماَََ ا فیون زدگی کی حالت میں اونگھتی رہتی ہیں اور صرف انتخابات کا قرب ہی ان کے مجہول جسموں میں زندگی کی لہر دوڑا پاتا ہے قومی اہمیت کے تمام معاملات سے چشم پوشی کرنے میں خاص ملکہرکھتے ہیں۔ حصولِ اقتدار کے لیے پاکستانی عوام سے نت نئے ڈرامے رچانے والی ہماری تمام سیاسی جماعتوں نے پاکستان کی خومختاری کے اس ڈرونی تماشے پر جس بے مثل بے حسی کا مظاہرہ کیا ہے وہ ان کی پاکستان اور پاکستانیوں سے محبتکامنہ بولتا ثبوت ہے۔امریکا کو اپنا ملجاو ماوا ماننے والے ہمارے نام نہاد سیاست دان ڈرون حملوں کے خلافبولنے کی سکت کچھ اس وجہ سے بھی نہیں رکھتے کہ ڈرون حملے کرنے والے ہی تو ان کی تقدیروں کے فیصلے کرتے ہیں ۔ چناچہ اپنے آقاؤں کے خلاف بول کر یہ سیاست کے کالے پانی جانے کی حماقت بھلا کس طرح کر سکتے ہیں!! لے دے کہ ہمارے پاس تحریکِ انصاف یا جماعتِ اسلامی کی کمزور آوازیں رہ جاتی ہیں جن سے کم از کم دنیا کے سامنے یہ ڈھکوسلا تو بنا رہتا ہے کہ پاکستانیوں کی زندہ لاشوں میں ابھی غیرت کی ہلکی سی رمق باقی ہے۔
علمِ سیاست کے تمام مفکرین یک زبان ہیں کہ فرد کی جان و مال کا تحفظ ریاست کی ان بنیادی ذمہ داریوں میں سے ایک ہے جس میں ناکامی پر ریاست فرد سے وفاداری کا استحقاق کھو دیتی ہے۔پاکستانی ریاست چونکہ دنیا کی ایک انوکھی مثال ہے اس لیے اس پر سیاسیات کے یہ عام نظریے تو لاگو نہیں کیے جا سکتے لیکن ا تنا بحر حال واضح ہے کہ پاکستان کے حکومتی و انتظامی ادروں سمیت عوام نے پاکستانی ریاست کو دو حصوں میں تقسیم کر دیا ہے ۔ ایک وہ عام پاکستان جس میں ہماری بے حسی اور ہمارے حکمرانوں کی عیاشیوں اور مسخرے پن کے تحفظ کے لیے ہماری پاک فوج ہر دم چوکس رہتی ہے اور دوسرا وہ قبائلی پاکستان جس کی فضائیں امریکی میزائلوں کے حملوں سے لرزیدہ رہتی ہیں اور جو عملی طور پر امریکی استعماریت کے مشقِ ستم کا نشانہ بننے کے لیے ہم نے اس کے حوالے کر دیا ہے۔ ہمارے رویے ان دو پاکستانوں کے بارے میں حیران کن حد تک جدا جدا ہیں۔ پہلے پاکستان میں چبھنے والے کانٹے کی کسک ہماری حکومت سے لے کر عوام تک اور فوج سے لے کرعدلیہ تک ہر کوئی اپنے قلب میں محسوس کرتا ہے لیکن دوسرے پاکستان کے خا ک و خون میں لت پت در و بام ہماری وطنیت کے تاروں کو چھیڑنے میں جانے کیوں ہمیشہ ناکام رہتے ہیں!!  اگر خاکم بدہن امریکا کے ڈرون اسلام آباد یا لا ہور پر میزائلوں کی ویسی ہی بارش کرتے جیسی وہ آئے روز قبائلی علاقوں میں کرتے رہتے ہیں تو کیا ہم اس جارحیت پر بے حسی کا یہی لحاف اوڑھ کر ایسے ہی اونگھتے رہتے ؟ اس سوال کا یقینی نفی میں جواب ہی ہمیں بتا تا ہے کہ ہم پاکستانی ایک نہیں ہیں ۔اپنے ہی ملک کے دو حصوں کے بارے میں ہمارے رویوں میں یہ تضاد ثابت کرتا ہے کہ اتحاد و یک جہتی کی تمام باتیں صرف من گھڑت ا فسانے ہیں ۔ہندوستان کے مسلمانوں کو ہندؤں کی چیرہ دستیوں سے بچانے کے لیے دو قومی نظریہ دیا گیا تھااب پاکستانیوں کو پاکستانیوں کی سنگدلانہ بے حسی سے بچانے کے لیے کسی نئے دو قومی نظریے کی ضرورت ہے۔

An amateur bomber in New York

In I Hate USA on May 13, 2010 at 6:55 am
By Sami Shah

I am seriously upset with Faisal Shahzad. His amateurish attempts at terrorism are ruining Pakistan’s image. It wasn’t easy building a reputation as the top exporter of worldclass terrorists. The Middle East had that market cornered for most of the latter half of the last century (with the Venezuelans making a respectable bid for the title in the 70s with Carlos the Jackal). For a very long time, it seemed like the Arabs were the Apple computers of terrorism. They exported both quantity and quality.

When James Cameron finally recognised their efforts by casting generic Arabs as trouble-makers in True Lies, the rest of the world thought the game was over. The gold medal had gone to the Middle East. Then, like Usain Bolt breaking his own record, the Arab world produced Osama Bin Laden. He became an overnight sensation. Soon teens with terrorist aspirations had his posters up on their walls and his audio and video releases topped the charts. The sinister Saudi combined charisma with wealth, CIA training with Afghan tenacity. He turned the whole terrorism industry upside down, transforming it from a bloated bureaucracy rife with nepotism into a 21st century open source meritocracy.

That’s when we Pakistani’s made a legitimate grab for top slot. Aimal Kansi had made a good first impression on the judging committee, combining ingenuity and initiative as far back as 1993. Unfortunately for him, there was no follow up act.

Not this time though. Our terrorists worked hard. They took their jobs seriously and never complained. Long hours, terrible working conditions, constant travel, drone attacks and a Pakistani government that treated them with all the consistency of a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder. Yet they persevered. Now, in 2010, we could finally say we were the envy of terrorists everywhere. With training institutes that churn out graduates who always make their instructors explode with pride, Celebrity terrorists who can return from the dead and a disregard for civilians that would make American Presidents envious, we had finally arrived. In 2010, if you wanted to be respected as a terrorist, you had better be from Pakistan. Just look at the number of international students our terrorist training institutes receive. Their admissions department must be flooded with applications. Whole teams of frustrated senior suicide-bombers spending hours pouring over personal statements. The Pakistani textile industry may be declining in terms of exports, our IT services may be crippled because of PayPal’s refusal to acknowledge our existence, but dammit, we did terrorism right!

That is, until Faisal bloody Shahzad. You have to be a truly terrible terrorist when the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan refuses to acknowledge you. This is an organisation that is on the verge of claiming responsibility for the Hindenberg disaster and the Apollo 13 problems. They have, of course, since backtracked and claimed to have trained Faisal but even they don’t sound like they believe themselves. It’s more a case of trying to buy some brand presence on a new celebrity. Faisal, for his part, could not have done more damage to the terrorism industry if he visited Mullah Omar, Hakeemullah Mehsud and Osama bin Laden while wearing a tracking device that was pinging his GPRS coordinates to a drone flying directly overhead. His claims of having attended bomb-making classes in South Waziristan are blatantly a case of lying on one’s resume. It’s safe to say, the first lesson taught on the first day of classes in North Waziristan, the Harvard of bomb-making, is “Don’t lock the keys to your getaway car inside the car that’s supposed to blow up.”

Too many people blew themselves up in too many creative ways for this buffoon to so callously ruin it all. We can’t afford to be known as the country that put the ‘error’ in ‘terrorism.’

Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.

Opinion Poll : Continuing Discontent with U.S.

In Opinion Polls, Uncategorized on August 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm

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 1312-1the 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.

1312-2However, 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 1312-3Pakistanis 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

1312-5One 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

1312-6Analysis 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:

PakistanThe 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.PAKISTAN-UNREST-PM-MILITARY

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%).


nato-flags2About 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.

PAKISTAN-ATTACKS-BHUTTOWhile 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.

Pakistani Public Turns Against Taliban, But Still Negative on US

In Opinion Polls on July 2, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Latest Survey released on July 1st by World Public Opinion

Source: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/brasiapacificra/619.php?nid=&id=&pnt=619&lb=

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.


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