Washington: Most Pakistanis see India as a bigger threat than the Taliban and the Al Qaeda and disapprove of the US military operation that killed Osama bin Laden, according to a new poll.
Although Al Qaeda leader bin Laden has not been well-liked in recent years, a majority of Pakistanis describe his death as a bad thing. Only 14 percent say it is a good thing, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Centre.
Moreover, many Pakistanis believe the US raid on bin Laden’s hideout, which was located about 35 miles from Islamabad, will have a negative impact on the already strained relations between the US and their country.
The poll also indicates that concerns among Pakistanis about an extremist takeover and support for using military force against extremist groups are slipping, but the groups themselves remain widely unpopular.
Just 12 percent of Pakistanis have a positive view of Al Qaeda, down from 18 percent in 2010. Only 12 percent give the Taliban a favourable rating with both Pakistan based Tehrik-i-Taliban and the Afghan Taliban getting similarly low levels of support.
There is somewhat more support for Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba group held responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Currently, 27 percent have a positive opinion of the terror outfit.
Results of two surveys conducted in Pakistan by Pew’s Global Attitudes Project also show that Pakistani views of traditional rival India have grown increasingly negative in recent years with three-in-four expressing an unfavourable opinion of India, up from 50 percent five years ago.
When asked which is the biggest threat to their country, India, the Taliban, or Al Qaeda, a majority of Pakistanis (57 percent) say India, the poll noted.
Still, roughly seven-in-ten say it is important to improve relations with India, believe increased trade with their neighbour would be a good thing, and support further talks to reduce tensions between the two countries, the Pew poll said.
Similarly, Indians express negative opinions of Pakistan; 65 percent have an unfavourable view of their traditional rival and more name Pakistan as India’s biggest threat (45 percent) than name Lashkar-e-Taiba (19 percent) or Naxalites (16 percent).
Yet, like Pakistanis, Indians would like to see improved relations between the two countries and most support increased trade between India and Pakistan.