Pakistanis worry more about India than al-Qaeda

Last Updated 30 July 2010, 12:01 IST

While Pakistanis express serious concerns about the US, they have also deep worries about neighbour and longtime rival India than extremist groups within Pakistan, according to the prestigious Pew Research Centre opinion poll carried out inside Pakistan.

"When asked which is the greatest threat to their country - India, the Taliban or al-Qaeda - slightly more than half of Pakistanis (53 per cent) choose India, compared with 23 per cent for Taliban and just 3 per cent for al-Qaeda," it said.

However, despite the deep-seated tensions between India and Pakistan, most Pakistanis want better ties with India.

Roughly seven-in-ten (72 per cent ) said it is important for relations with India to improve and about three-quarters support increased trade with India and further talks between the two rivals, it said.

Inspite of pumping in billions of dollars in economic and military aid, the US image in Pakistan was at its lowest ever among the 22 nations included in the poll. Fifty-nine per cent of the respondents described America as an enemy and only eight per cent trusted President Barack Obama.

The Pakistanis saw little threat from Taliban and al-Qaeda and only 25 per cent of the people said it would be bad for Islamabad if Taliban takes over again Afghanistan.
While 18 per cent said it would be good for Pakistan 57 per cent were not concerned.
State Department spokesman P J Crowley conceded that there is a huge trust deficit between the US and Pakistan.

"We understand – and the Secretary (of State) in her recent trip and also in her trip last October – understand that there's a deficit in trust in our relationship. There are those in Pakistan who recall and sense that they were abandoned by the US and the international community, going back 20 years or more," he said.

Crowley said the US has worked hard in recent months to try to turn this relationship around.

"I think we recognise that this was not going to occur overnight. We have tried to communicate forcefully to not only the government, but also to the people directly, that the US is committed to the future of Pakistan," he said.

"We are, in fact, a partner. I think we're not surprised that people want to see fruits of this partnership; that's exactly what we're trying to do. It goes back to what the Secretary announced in Islamabad last week – concrete projects that – on energy, on health, on education that will create tangible results so the people of Pakistan can see it. And when they see it, then we would expect to see those poll numbers prospectively improve," he said.

(Published 30 July 2010, 08:56 IST)

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