‘Most Pakistanis oppose force against Qaeda’
* 80pc reject permitting foreign troops in Pakistan
* Little confidence in BB, Nawaz, Musharraf
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: 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 WorldPublicOpinion.org poll published in an article on October 31 found.
The poll concluded that just 44 percent of urban Pakistanis favoured 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.
Foreign troops: Pakistanis reject overwhelmingly the idea of permitting foreign troops to attack Al Qaeda on Pakistani territory. Four out of five (80 percent) say their government should not allow American or other foreign troops to enter Pakistan to pursue and capture Al Qaeda fighters, the poll found. Three out of four (77 percent) oppose allowing foreign troops to attack Taliban insurgents based in Pakistan.
The results of the poll of 907 Pakistanis reveals that a majority of urban Pakistanis believe their government’s decision to attack militants holding Lal Masjid in Islamabad was a mistake.
No confidence in leaders: 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. Since fleeing Afghanistan following the 2001 US-led invasion, Afghan Taliban insurgents and foreign militants from Al Qaeda have managed to regroup in north-western Pakistan, the article says.
The remote, mountainous region is inhabited by Pashtun tribes who have enjoyed substantial autonomy since the mid-nineteenth century, when the country that is now Pakistan was a British colony. The opposition to letting American or other foreign troops attack Al Qaeda or Taliban forces in Pakistan are overwhelming. Around 80 percent of those polled say American or other foreign troops should not be allowed to enter Pakistan to pursue and capture Al Qaeda or Taliban fighters. Around seven percent say this should be allowed and an additional 15 percent do not answer.
These attitudes may also reflect Pakistani sympathy for at least some Islamist goals. A substantial 60 percent majority believes that “Sharia should play a larger role in Pakistan law” than it does now. Only 26 percent say it should play the same role (15 percent) or a smaller role (11 percent) and 15 percent do not answer.