New Delhi: Many more people in Pakistan consider the US, and not India, as the greatest threat to their country, a survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan for Al-Jazeera satellite TV network has found.
As many as 59% of the respondents said they considered the US as the greatest threat to Pakistan, compared with 18% who said it was India.
The survey was conducted among 2,500 people across Pakistan on 26-27 July. Al-Jazeera shared details of the survey exclusively with Mint and the Hindustan Times, both published by HT Media Ltd. Fragments of the survey were reported by PTI news agency on 10 August.
The survey found that the respondents were deeply divided on their opinions about Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Although 43% favoured a dialogue with the Islamic group, 41% supported military action against them.
However, an overwhelming 67% opposed drone aircraft attacks by the US against Taliban and Al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan; 80% of those opposing were above 51 years of age.
“One of the abiding features of Pakistan is that in this region the highest incidents of anti-US protests and attacks have been on Pakistan’s streets,” said C. Uday Bhaskar, defence expert and former director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis. “The paradox is that the Pakistani establishment is closely aligned with the US, so much so that it has been designated as the only non-NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) ally in the war against terror.”
Also See Mood of the Nation (Graphics)
G. Parthasarathy, India’s former high commissioner to Pakistan and an expert on foreign affairs, said: “It has been this way for a long time. It (anti-US sentiment) started with the US ending assistance to Pakistan after the Soviet pull-out (from Afghanistan),” he said. “Also, the US started acting against and asking Pakistan to act against the Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, etc., whom the Pakistanis had been brainwashed into believing were great Islamic heroes.”
The survey also had bad news for Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, with 42% saying his leadership has been bad for Pakistan, compared with just 11% who said Zardari has been a good leader. On a similar note, 38% said the Pakistan Peoples Party government has been bad for the country, against 20%, who say it has been good.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif emerged as the most popular political leader in Pakistan, with 38% of the respondents saying his rule would be best for Pakistan. Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani emerged a distant second with 13% support, while only 9% favoured Zardari.
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint