Thursday, November 01, 2007

Less Than Half of Pakistani Public Supports Attacking al Qaeda, Cracking Down on Fundamentalists

Less Than Half of Pakistani Public Supports Attacking al Qaeda, Cracking Down on Fundamentalists

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

Pakistanis show only weak support for using force against Islamic militants and overwhelmingly oppose allowing outside forces to combat al Qaeda on Pakistani territory.

A ( poll finds that just 44 percent of urban Pakistanis favor sending the Pakistani army to the Northwestern tribal areas to "pursue and capture al Qaeda fighters." Only 48 percent would allow the Pakistan army to act against "Taliban insurgents who have crossed over from Afghanistan." In both cases, about a third oppose such military action and a fifth decline to answer.

Pakistanis reject overwhelmingly the idea of permitting foreign troops to attack al Qaeda on Pakistani territory. Four out of five (80%) say their government should not allow American or other foreign troops to enter Pakistan to pursue and capture al Qaeda fighters." Three out of four (77%) oppose allowing foreign troops to attack Taliban insurgents based in Pakistan.

These are some of the results of a poll of 907 Pakistanis conducted in urban areas Sept. 12-28, 2007. The findings also reveal that a majority of urban Pakistanis believe their government's decision to attack militants holding the Red Mosque in Islamabad was a mistake.

Polling took place before the massive suicide bombing apparently targeting former Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto on her return from eight-years in exile. More than 130 people among the massive crowds celebrating Bhutto's return died in the attack.

Pakistanis show little confidence in the leaders who have dominated Pakistani politics for much of the last 20 years. Less than a third express support for either current president Pervez Musharraf or former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

Steven Kull, director of, comments, "The Pakistani people are not enthusiastic about Musharraf, do not support his recent crackdown on fundamentalists, and are lukewarm at best about going after al Qaeda or the Taliban in western Pakistan. It appears that a US strategy that rests on Musharraf being a frontline in the war on terrorism has poor prospects."

Additional survey details including the questionnaire, findings, and methods can be found at


CONTACT: Steven Kull of, +1-202-232-7500

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