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Thread: What is Pakistan Thinking?- Pew Survey 2009

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    Council Member rborum's Avatar
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    Default What is Pakistan Thinking?- Pew Survey 2009

    All surveys have limitations, of course, but here are the latest numbers from Pew's Survey in Pakistan - bear in mind, they did not include some of the most troubled and least stable areas. I have a summary of the survey highlights and a link to the full report HERE

    Here are a couple of data points that bear on "hot topics" debated in these forums.

    What Do Pakistanis think About US Counterterroism Efforts in the Region?

    • 56% oppose U.S.-led efforts to fight terrorism
    • 72% want the U.S. and NATO to remove their military troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible
    • 16% approve of Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan
    • 72% say they would support U.S. financial and humanitarian aid to areas where extremist groups operate
    • 63% support the idea of the U.S. providing intelligence and logistical support to Pakistani troops who are combating extremist groups


    What Are Pakistani Sentiments About the UAV Missle Strikes?

    • 62% of those who have heard of the UAV missile strikes targeting extremist leaders say they are a very bad thing, and another 33% say they are a bad thing.
    • 58% say the UAV attacks are not necessary to protect their country from extremists, while 34% believe they are necessary.
    • 93% of those who have heard of the UAV missile strikes say they kill too many innocent people
    Randy Borum
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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Interesting to note:

    78% favor death for those who leave Islam;
    80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery;
    83% favor stoning adulterers.

    At the same time...

    69% of the 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.
    This suggests that Islamic conservatism and support for AQ and the Taliban do not necessarily go together.

    And then we have this...

    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.
    To compare to this...

    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.
    Not necessarily contradictory views, but certainly complex ones...

    Edit: The rate of change in perceptions of AQ and the Taliban in the brief course of a year is particularly interesting, and suggests that public opinion's "center of gravity" is capable of quite rapid shifts... potentially a risk and potentially an opportunity.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 08-16-2009 at 02:03 AM.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default "Window" of opportunity or doubt?

    For those into opinion poliing an earlier poll could be of interest: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pi...d=&pnt=619&lb=

    Some of these issues over Pakistani public opinion have been aired on this thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ighlight=lodhi

    For a Pakistani viewpoint (albeit sitting in the USA): http://watandost.blogspot.com/2009/0...ew-survey.html has a nice table on how opinions have shifted (which my IT skills cannot drag here).

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-16-2009 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Add links

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    For those into opinion poliing an earlier poll could be of interest: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pi...d=&pnt=619&lb=

    Some of these issues over Pakistani public opinion have been aired on this thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ighlight=lodhi

    For a Pakistani viewpoint (albeit sitting in the USA): http://watandost.blogspot.com/2009/0...ew-survey.html has a nice table on how opinions have shifted (which my IT skills cannot drag here).

    davidbfpo
    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Interesting to note:

    78% favor death for those who leave Islam;
    80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery;
    83% favor stoning adulterers.

    At the same time...



    This suggests that Islamic conservatism and support for AQ and the Taliban do not necessarily go together.
    Remember the Tailiban is mainly composed of Pashtuns so this may figure into this.

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    Default Cart before horse

    I think that this kind of public opinion poll can be interpreted in many ways, but the crucial thing from an instrumental policy point of view is that these opinions are NOT driving elite policy, elite policy is driving these opinions. In other words, it is the opinion makers who matter far more than the general population and that is worth keeping in mind: It is policy at the top that is driving this public opinion. Before I am accused of elitism or racism or any other ism, I would like to try and illustrate with an analogy. Where I live in the US, there are many things about which people routinely think, have a lot of information (a lot of it accurate) and about these things, they have real opinions (local politics, economic issues, their families, their sports teams and so on). Then, there are some things that they have never given much thought to and about which they have no deep opinion at all (the politics of Pakistan, apple plantations in venezuela, etc) and finally, there are some things about which they have opinions, but not because most of them have ever deeply studied the matter or had an immediate/deeply felt direct role in these matters, but because these are the "herd opinions" of the group (which does NOT mean they are necessarily wrong), like "america is a democracy, democracy is good, dictators are bad, our allies are good, our enemies are bad, Britain is an ally, Alqaeda is an enemy," and so on. On these matters, I would submit that (most of them) sensibly follow the lead of the leaders of opinion or what they were taught in school. AND will change their opinion about particular examples if and when the intelligentsia tells them to do so (Russia bad, then Russia good, then bad again); again, I dont think that's a bad thing, that is what sensible people probably SHOULD do.
    I am not saying Pakistan is exactly analogous. Obviously, it is not as literate and has less sophisticated and complex systems of creating and disseminating opinion. But I would submit that most of these questions are in the last category and whether America is good or bad or alqaeda is good or bad can change in very short order because of the following sequence: Pakistan is always good, Islam is always good (core opinion, wont change that quickly). Media and educators and leaders of opinion tell us that America is bad for Pakistan or Islam, therefore america bad. Tomorrow, these people say America is actually good for Pakistan and Islam, Voila, America good! Do you get my drift? Its misleading to look at these as deeply held and solidly based opinions when it comes to details. The reason they appear contradictory is precisely because the fractured elite is giving contradictory messages about some of this stuff. Change the message from the top, the opinion polls will change within weeks and months.
    I bring all of this up because all too frequently these kind of polls are used to justify being pessimistic about the possibility of positive change. In my opinion, it was not "public opinion" that was generating support for jihadis, it was the army and its fellow travellers. And when the army decided to go against the jihadis, public opinion changed in no time. People in Pakistan support whatever they percieve to be "pakistani interests" and "islamic interests" (almost like Americans in general support what they regard as "american interests")...but its the opinion makers who tell them what those interests are and when the opinion makers change their mind, so does a lot of the public. In this case, focus on changing the mind of the army and its psyops division, you will be surprised at how many others will follow..

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