Pakistanis see India as greater threat than Taliban, Al Qaeda

July 30th, 2010 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 30 (IANS) Pakistanis consider India a greater threat than Taliban and Al Qaeda with a quarter viewing Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for 2008 Mumbai attacks, favourably, according to a new study.

Most Pakistanis sampled (53 percent) said they saw India as the biggest threat to the country versus 23 percent for the Taliban and 3 percent for Al Qaeda, suggests the poll released by the Pew Research Centre, a Washington think tank.

A quarter of respondents said they had a favourable view of LeT versus 35 percent who said they had an unfavourable view, while 40 percent offered no opinion about the outfit that US experts warn is trying to expand its reach beyond the region.

The Pakistani are also significantly less concerned about the extremists seizing power than a year ago with 51 percent of respondents saying they were very worried about extremists taking over the country, down from 69 percent a year ago.

The survey found 54 percent of respondents felt the Taliban posed a serious threat to the country compared with 73 percent a year ago. As for Al Qaeda, 38 percent of people saw them as a serious threat versus 61 percent a year ago.

The poll also suggests resilient support for extremists among a sizeable minority which is likely to continue to challenge American policymakers even as the US pours $7.5 billion in civilian aid into Pakistan over the next five years to build goodwill.

Almost a fifth of respondents said they had a favourable view of Al Qaeda, while 15 percent said the same about the Taliban. About two thirds of respondents gave the Taliban an unfavourable rating and 53 percent said the same thing about Al Qaeda.

The US remains deeply disliked, with 59 percent of people saying they consider Washington an enemy. Two-thirds want NATO troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible and a majority say drone strikes should stop.

Still, two thirds say they would like to see better relations with the US.

The survey also underscores a perception that President Asif Ali Zardari, a US ally, is deeply unpopular with only one in five respondents expressing a positive view about him, down from 64 percent in 2008.

Based on a sample of 2,000 people, the survey between April 13 and 28 has a plus or minus 3 percent margin for error.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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