Domestic support for the Pakistani Army’s campaign against militant groups has waned in recent years, a poll by a US group has found, showing deep-rooted opposition among the Pakistani public to the US.
The findings of two Pew Research Center surveys of 3,221 people found that just 37 per cent of them supported using the army to fight militants, which was 16 per cent lower than two years ago, according to Pew.
The surveys also showed that most Pakistanis – 63 per cent – disapproved of the secret US raid in May that killed Osama bin Laden, with 55 per cent describing it as a “bad thing”.
It was not clear if the respondents disapproved of the killing of the al Qaeda leader, who has not been popular in the country in recent years, or the secret US raid which many people saw as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Only 12 per cent of respondents had a positive view of the US and only 8 per cent had confidence in President Barack Obama “to do the right thing in world affairs”, Pew said.
But Pew said despite criticism after the Bin Laden raid, the military remained “overwhelmingly popular”, with 79 per cent of respondents saying it had a good influence on the country.
Views of al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban as threats have fluctuated over the years. In 2009, 61 per cent of Pakistanis viewed al Qaeda as a threat, dropping to 38 per cent in 2010 and rising to 49 per cent after Bin Laden’s death.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani government rejected the findings and labelled the poll as an exercise that undermined democracy and wrongly portrayed the Pakistani people’s struggle against terrorism.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2011.