Pakistan gets surveyed II: No major surprises
This time, its by the folks at the International Republican Institute. I didn’t blog about the IRI’s survey earlier this year, but we did a summary of the Al Jazeera and Pew surveys here. (Worth bookmarking so you can whip it out during your next conversation about Pakistan)
The IRI survey focuses on several key areas, but for the short term its worth looking at the leadership ratings as well as opinions on the Taliban and foreign policy. I’ll probably post more from the report later on today but for now – and having just seen a rather disturbing video of the Pakistan Army reportedly beating up suspects – this will have to do.
Its the economy, stupid
Firstly, the biggest issue for Pakistan right now is the economy: Pakistanis’ biggest concern is inflation (40%), their economic condition has worsened (72%) and they’re not optimistic either (58% say the condition will worsen)
Terrorism and the Taliban
Public opinion has turned against the Taliban – every pundit, blogger and news channel will tell you that – and so did the Pew and Al Jazeera surveys.
There’s a 17% increase in public opinion that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda operating in Pakistan are a serious problem, and 90% of the respondents say that religious extremism is a problem in Pakistan. However, if a parliamentary election were to be held, 61% of respondents would vote in for a coalition of religious parties led by the PML-N.
The army operation gets more props, but American incursions remain unpopular. No surprises there. Peace deals with extremists also have less support now, according to this survey (from 72% in March to 46% in July)
And there isn’t much support for extremists using Pakistan as a base to launch attacks on India and Afghanistan. 71% of respondents say that its a very serious problem while 18% say its a somewhat serious problem, making it 89% against.
Now this one really made me laugh. People, prepare for a Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari government in the not-so-distant future, since 2% of respondents think Bilawal Bhutto can handle Pakistan’s problems effectively. Asfandyar Wali and Qazi Hussain Ahmed have 1% each.
Also, Mulla Omar is the most disliked ‘political’ (they’ve included COAS General Ashfaq Kayani and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in the list) figure, with 88% of respondents saying they disliked him.