WASHINGTON: Seventy-four percent of Pakistan consider the US as their enemy, a figure which is higher than the previous years and the approval rating of US President Barack Obama is exceedingly low in this regard, a new survey released today said.
Following a year of tensions between their country and the US, Pakistanis continue to hold highly unfavorable views of the US and offer bleak assessments of the relationship between the two nations, the Pew Research center concluded following the survey it conducted in Pakistan.
The Pew survey, which was published on its website, said that last year 69 percent used to hate the US but in 2012 the figure jumped to 74 percent.
The survey also showed an exceptionally low regard for US President Barack Obama among Pakistanis. They believe Obama is as bad a leader as former US President George W. Bush had been during his final year in office.
US-Pakistan relations have been strained over the civilian casualties caused by the non-UN-sanctioned US drone attacks, and over a number of other issues.
The report – which was prepared after conducting face-to-face interviews with 1,206 respondents in the country between March 28 and April 13, 2012 (a sample that covers approximately 82% of the Pakistani population) – revealed that only 13% Pakistanis believe that relations with the US have improved in recent years, down 16% points from 2011. Given the changing public opinions, priorities of Pakistanis are also drastically altering — with only 45% supporting the efforts to improve relations with the US, as opposed to 60% last year.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since the US-led war in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but it also unleashed forces of extremism and terrorism in neighboring Pakistan.
High Marks for Khan, Low for Zardari, Gilani
Pakistanis continue to express considerable discontent with conditions in their own country. About nine-in-ten (87%) are dissatisfied with the country’s direction, barely changed from last year’s 92%. Similarly, 89% describe the national economic situation as bad; 85% held this view in 2011. And overwhelming majorities rate unemployment, crime, terrorism, and corruption as very big problems.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project survey also showed that former cricket star Imran Khan has remained the most popular politician in the country. More than 70 percent of the people offer a favorable opinion of Khan, who leads Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice or PTI). This is basically unchanged from last year, but up considerably from 2010.
Khan’s stance on US war on terror, which he calls a war of terror, his strong views on CIA’s drone attacks in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region, which the US has been carrying out since 2008, his struggle for the rule of law, justice, equality, and the eradication of corruption, have endeared the PTI leader to the people of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, approval ratings of President Asif Ali Zardari and his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have plunged badly. Only 14 percent view Zardari favorably, down drastically from 64 percent in 2008. (Agencies)