Public Opinion in Pakistan: Concern About Extremist Threat Slips

Jul 29, 2010

Pakistanis remain in a grim mood about the state of their country. Overwhelming majorities are dissatisfied with national conditions, unhappy with the nation's economy, and concerned about political corruption and crime. Only one-in-five express a positive view of President Asif Ali Zardari, down from 64% just two years ago.

As Pakistani forces continue to battle extremist groups within the country, nearly all Pakistanis describe terrorism as a very big problem. However, they have grown markedly less concerned that extremists might take control of the country.

Last year, at a time when the Pakistani military was taking action against Taliban forces in the Swat Valley within 100 miles of the nation's capital, 69% were very or somewhat worried about extremist groups taking control of Pakistan. Today, just 51% express concern about an extremist takeover.

More specifically, Pakistanis also feel less threatened by the Taliban and much less by al Qaeda. Last year, 73% rated the Taliban a serious threat, compared with 54% now. Roughly six-in-ten (61%) considered al Qaeda a serious threat last year; now, just 38% feel this way.

Nonetheless, both the Taliban and al Qaeda remain unpopular among Pakistanis -- 65% give the Taliban an unfavorable rating and 53% feel this way about al Qaeda. Negative views toward these groups have become a little less prevalent over the past year, while positive views have crept up slightly.

Still, opinions are much more negative today than was the case two years ago, when roughly one-third expressed an unfavorable view of both groups, one-quarter gave them a positive rating and four-in-ten offered no opinion.

Read the full report, Public Opinion in Pakistan: Concern About Extremist Threat Slips on the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project Web site.

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