WASHINGTON: A PEW research says that most Pakistanis disapproved of the US operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Even though the terrorist leader was not a crowd favourite, a majority considered it a bad thing. However views about the US and Obama did not get any worse after bin Laden’s killing.
With relations between the two war on terror allies moving towards breaking point, the research found that 63 per cent of the people did not approve of bin Laden’s killing while 55 per cent believed it to be a bad thing. A mere 37 per cent believed in using army to combat extremists in Khyber Pakhtookhwa and FATA areas.
The comprehensive report is broken down in six chapters, views on national conditions, ratings of political leaders and government institutions, death of bin Laden and the continuing efforts against terrorists, opinion about US and Obama, on extremism and how Pakistanis and Indians view each other.
Views on national conditions
With regards to national condition, the PEW research said that “Pakistanis continue to be highly dissatisfied with conditions in their country. Roughly nine-in-ten (92 per cent) are dissatisfied with the country’s direction. Almost as many (85 per cent) say the economic situation in Pakistan is bad. And optimism is scarce – 60 per cent think the economy will worsen in the next 12 months; only 13 per cent believe it will improve.”
Ratings of political leaders and government institutions
Ratings for President Zardari dropped from 20 per cent a year ago to mere 11 per cent. While ratings for the Prime Minister Gillani fared better, with 39 per cent, despite dropping from 59 per cent from a year ago.
In contrast, political rivals such as Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif saw their popularity soar with Khan getting 69 per cent and Sharif 63 per cent.
Chief of Army Staff, Ashfaque Pervaiz Kayani came in third with 52 per cent. However, the institution he represents, the armed forces were viewed positively with 79 per cent approval. The ratings for the army have fallen only four points after the OBL incident.
Death of bin Laden and the continuing efforts against terrorists
After the bin Laden operation, criticism of the army was rising home and abroad. According to the PEW research data “although Osama bin Laden was not well-regarded in recent
years, few Pakistanis approve of the military operation that killed him, and most say it is a bad thing that the al Qaeda leader is dead. Looking forward, many think the killing of bin
Laden will create even greater tensions between the US and their country.”
As criticism about drone strikes increase, more and more people seemed to be getting knowledgeable about what the hue and cry about it. In addition to that, almost 61 per cent of the people disagreed that they were necessary while 89 per cent thought that they killed too many innocent people.
Support for the fight against extremism using Pakistani forces to conduct operations in the troubled FATA and Khyber Pakhtoonkhw areas of Pakistan has also waned with only 37 per cent of the people supporting an Army operation.
Opinion about US and Obama
Pakistanis are ranked second in viewing the US as unfavourable to their cause. The PEW report suggested that percentage of people who viewed America as friendly slipped from 17 per cent in 2010 to 12 per cent in 2011. Only in Turkey was America viewed less favourably with only 10 per cent viewing the country in positive light.
According to the PEW research, the views about Islmaic extremism slipped slightly in 2011 compared with 2010. However, with 63 per cent still worried about the extremism in the country, most Pakistanis continue to see it as a problem facing their nation. Many worry that extremists could take control of their country, and pluralities see al Qaeda and the Taliban as serious threats.
How Pakistanis and Indians view each other
Pakistanis continue to see India in a bad light, with the PEW research saying that views have gotten more negative about their arch rivals over the past five years. According to the research, only 14 per cent of Pakistanis view India in a favourable light. 54 per cent consider India to be a serious threat to Pakistan over Taliban (34 per cent) and al Qaeda (29 per cent).
On the flip side, Indians do not view Pakistan as any more favourable as Pakistanis view Indians. However, 65 per cent of Indians see Pakistan in a negative light compared to 75 per cent for Pakistanis.
Interestingly, despite the visible hostility between the neighbouring countries, a large majority of people on both sides of the border want to improve relations.
The full research report can be read on the PEW research website.