Part 1 — PEW Report: Anti-American sentiment rife in Pakistan

Published: June 28, 2012
Three in four Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy, says the report. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Three in four Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy, says the report. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


The uneasy allies – fighting the so-called war on terror – have witnessed unprecedented setbacks of late — and public opinion reflects just the same.

Following a year of rising tensions between Pakistan and the US, a majority of Pakistanis perceive America unfavourably — offering bleak assessments of the relationship between the two allies.

According to a report published by the Pew Research Centre, roughly three out of four Pakistanis (74%) consider the US an enemy — up from 69% last year and 64% three years ago.

Public opinion in Pakistan remains highly sceptical of US foreign policy, the report states, and US President Barack Obama is held in an exceedingly low regard — out of the 15 nations surveyed in both 2008 and 2012 by the Pew Research Centre’s Global Attitudes Project, Pakistan emerged as the only country where ratings for Obama were no better than the ratings for George W Bush in his final year in office.

The worsening public perception of the US stems from a number of incidents that have bedevilled the relations between the two countries — drones and unilateral strikes being one of the most contentious ones. A staggering 94% of the people oppose drone strikes and believe that they kill more innocent people, and nearly three-quarters (74%) say they are not necessary to defend Pakistan from extremist organisations. Opposition to these unilateral strikes is so high within the country that only 17% back them, even if they are conducted in conjunction with the government, the report asserts.

The report – which was prepared after conducting face-to-face interviews with 1,206 respondents in the country between March 28 and April 13, 2012 (a sample that covers approximately 82% of the Pakistani population) – revealed that only 13% Pakistanis believe that relations with the US have improved in recent years, down 16% points from 2011. Given the changing public opinions, priorities of Pakistanis are also drastically altering — with only 45% supporting the efforts to improve relations with the US, as opposed to 60% last year.

Notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan is one of the highest recipients of aid from Washington, the position of the public about the US hardly changes. Roughly four out of 10 believe that US economic and military aid is actually having a negative impact — while only one-in-10 think the impact is positive.

In international comparison, an overwhelming 80% majority in Pakistan currently have an unfavourable view of the US — with the 21 nations included in the spring 2012 Pew Global Attitudes survey, only Jordanians gave a more negative rating to the US (86%). Italy is on top with a 74% approval rating for the US.

Negative views of India

With many experts claiming that almost the entire foreign policy of Pakistan is shaped keeping archrival India in mind, it is not surprising that only 22% of Pakistanis have a favourable view of India.

A majority of the respondents when asked what the biggest threat to their country was, named India (59%) as opposed to the Taliban or al Qaeda. Pakistanis have consistently identified India as the top threat since the question was first asked in 2009, according to the Pew report.

However, notwithstanding these negative sentiments, 62% of Pakistanis believe it is important to improve relations with India — with roughly two-thirds supporting more bilateral trade and further talks to ease tensions between them.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Ghalib
    Jun 28, 2012 - 10:42AM

    You forget to quote Leader Ratings which was part of this opinion poll. Imran Khan is on top.


  • Shyam
    Jun 28, 2012 - 11:12AM

    *Following a year of rising tensions between Pakistan and the US, a majority of Pakistanis perceive America unfavourably

    The majority of the WORLD pervieves Pakistan unfavourably. That hasn’t made any difference to Pakistani behaviour so why should America or India be bothered by what Pakistanis percieve


  • Jun 28, 2012 - 11:15AM

    US is such a peace loving country, spreading democracy and aid. I wonder what may be the reason that ticks half of the planet off.


  • gtg
    Jun 28, 2012 - 11:17AM

    SO ET publishes things which represent real Pakistan too!!! AMAZED!Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 28, 2012 - 11:41AM

    However if you ask these same people if they want to move to the US, also most everyone would say yes. :)


  • Ali
    Jun 28, 2012 - 11:42AM

    Could this mean that Pakistanis are more aware, and the USAID propaganda isn’t working on them. Maybe the Americans just need to back off.Recommend

  • PTI Voter
    Jun 28, 2012 - 11:56AM

    You are looking in the wrong direction if you want to read any good views on Imran Khan on ET. Biased Reporting


  • Jun 28, 2012 - 12:04PM

    conspiracy theorist nation collapsing only because of its mindset


  • saeed
    Jun 28, 2012 - 12:31PM

    @Ghalib..They did not forget..they did in intentionality…I wonder why….any guess..


  • harkol
    Jun 28, 2012 - 12:41PM

    There is a saying that it is the nature of a person to hate the benefactor the most, because a person who doesn’t give anything, doesn’t have an expectation, but a person who gives something, it is rare that it is given without some expectation, and invariably that expectation causes the friction and resentment.

    US is being foolish if it thinks it can ever win ‘hearts and minds’ through Aid. It may be hated less if it simply adopts a stance that Pakistan is a nation to be contained, opposed and given assistance to break up in to smaller workable units.


  • Zalim Singh
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:09PM

    and almost all Pakistanis want to settle in USA.Recommend

  • Vigilant
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:15PM

    Not surprised…..Recommend

  • TJ
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:33PM

    Did you forget to read PAGE No.1 of the report as to who is the most popular leader in pakistan and who is the worst of ’em all. Generally is a good principle to start from page One :))


  • Imran Con
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:38PM

    Considering the Pakistani public’s penchant for irrational outbursts of destruction and hatred of anything non-Muslim, it’s really hard to imagine such reports are going to set anyone on the path of “there must be something wrong with us and we should fix it.” Instead it’ll just come off as “yep. That’s Pakistan.”
    Maybe people should mix it up a little. Try just one or two protests/outbursts in relation to extremists instead of isolating it to the people against them.


  • mr. righty rightist
    Jun 28, 2012 - 4:21PM

    @Ghalib @Saeed @PTI voter

    Because, the title reads Part 1. This means, there is a part two. Don’t be impetuous.

    By the way, if Imarn Con comes to power, Pakistan is doomed (Not that otherwise, it’s going to flourish, hehe!). His agenda is full of lies and false hopes. 19 days, 90 days, 6 months?!!! To even mildly repair Pakistan, one needs 100% honesty and at least 10 years.

    In fact, in today’s Pakistan, of there’s a real mature leader, it’s Nawaz Sharif. He has been saying all the right things in the last 2-3 years.


  • Fareed
    Jun 28, 2012 - 4:26PM

    At least try to report everything in the report not just some part of it. That is the problem with Express Tribune they never report the full story only the stuff they want to report. How come you guys never wrote anything about whose the leader most Pakistanis support.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jun 28, 2012 - 4:56PM

    One doesn’t need string theory to look for alternate universes, you can find one right here in Pak!


  • Butt
    Jun 28, 2012 - 5:08PM

    Does it mean that USA has overtaken India as enemy no.1.


  • Hammad
    Jun 28, 2012 - 6:47PM

    If Pakistanis don’t consider Taliban the top threat, it can only mean they are turning into Taliban. When was the last time India killed one of our soldiers? Nowadays when I introduce myself, I need to clarify that I belong to a tiny minority of Pakistan, and by no means represent the Taliban sympathising majority.


  • KDP
    Jun 28, 2012 - 7:53PM

    Offer them Visa to migrate to the USA and 90% of them will line up in front of the US Embassy!!!


  • Cautious
    Jun 28, 2012 - 8:34PM

    No surprises in the PEW poll — years of anti American blather sponsored by religious, political, and military leaders has molded public opinion. While it’s popular to discuss drone attacks, border incidents or Raymond Davis as the reason for this hatred the reality is that the public opinion was shaped long before these events. The USA isn’t the lone ranger in the Pakistan hate list — India, Israel and the boogeyman are still running neck and neck and are considered the root cause of everything that is wrong in Pakistan.


  • Tariq
    Jun 29, 2012 - 2:22PM

    @mr. righty rightist , So due to Nawaz sharif’s wisdom and maturity they have converted Punjab To Switzerland?? And we should give them chance in Center as well??


  • Cynical
    Jun 29, 2012 - 2:57PM

    The same report also suggests, 54% of Chinese have an unfavourable view of Pakistan. The same figure for Indians is 59%.Something to think about.


  • American
    Jul 1, 2012 - 1:40AM

    three out of four Pakistanis (74%) consider the US an enemy – the feeling is mutual.


  • politically incorrect
    Jul 1, 2012 - 2:35AM


    The most popular leader keeps his children in a less pure (compared to Pakistan) country.Recommend

  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Jul 1, 2012 - 6:02AM

    Americans has been interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs for decades and if they will treat Pakistan as a sovereign country, perhaps Pakistanis will start thinking favorably to the USA. President Obama has really messed up things in Pakistan, I don’t think the Pakistani Americans will support him come November. Somehow the minorities in the US has been the most vicious in Afghanistan and Iraq war, they are trying to prove that they are more American than the majority in the US.


  • umer
    Jul 19, 2012 - 3:33PM

    @mr. righty rightist

    Mature leader ? really ? read about his captaincy against west indies.


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