Tuesday, June 21, 2011

War Weary Pakistanis Disapprove of US, Taliban and Al Qaeda

Pew polls conducted in 2010 and 2011 show that overwhelming majority of Pakistanis take a dim view of the actions of the United States, Taliban and Al Qaeda.

According to the latest poll, only 12% express a positive view of the U.S. and just 8% have confidence in President Barack Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Most Pakistanis see the U.S. as an enemy, consider it a potential military threat, and oppose American-led anti-terrorism efforts. The killing of bin Laden has had little effect on the results.

Pew conducted the survey in Pakistan as part of its Global Attitudes Project in April, and conducted a second poll right after the May 2 raid on Bin Laden’s compound in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan. Pakistanis’ views of Bin Laden had become increasingly negative in recent years. In a 2005 Pew poll, 51 percent said they had confidence that Bin Laden would do the right thing in world affairs; in April only 21 percent had such trust.

Looking forward, 51 percent of the respondents in the latest survey expect relations to deteriorate between the countries as a result of the American military action, only 4 percent anticipate better relations and 16 percent said there would be no change. And after the death of Bin Laden, Pakistanis took a more pessimistic view of relations between their country and the United States. In a prior survey in April, Pakistanis were divided: 35 percent said relations had improved in recent years and 35 percent disagreed. After the Abbottabad raid, 29 percent said relations with the United States had improved and 44 percent had the opposite view.

Pakistanis continue to reject suicide attacks against civilians as a means to defend Islam. Fully 85% of Muslims in Pakistan say this kind of violence is never justified; another 3% says it is rarely justified and just 5% say it is sometimes or often justified.

Pakistanis continue to view their traditional rival India negatively. Three-in-four express an unfavorable opinion of India, up from 50% five years ago.

When asked which is the biggest threat to their country, India, the Taliban, or al Qaeda, a majority of Pakistanis (57%) say India.

Still, roughly seven-in-ten say it is important to improve relations with India, believe increased trade with their neighbor would be a good thing, and support further talks to reduce tensions between the two countries.

Similarly, Indians express negative opinions of Pakistan; 65% have an unfavorable view of their traditional rival and more name Pakistan as India’s biggest threat (45%) than name Lashkar-e-Taiba (19%) or Naxalites (16%). Yet, like Pakistanis, Indians would like to see improved relations between the two countries and most support increased trade between India and Pakistan.

At the heart of tensions between India and Pakistan lies the Kashmir dispute. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of Pakistanis consider the Kashmir dispute a very big problem. Majorities in both countries think it is important to find a resolution to the Kashmir issue, but Pakistanis are more likely than Indians to give this issue high salience (80% vs. 66% very important). Majorities of Pakistanis across age, education and ethnic groups agree that resolving this issue is very important.

Even though the Pakistani military has come under sharp criticism since the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden, it remains overwhelmingly popular: 79% say it is having a good influence on the country. Ratings for military chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani have remained on balance positive – 52% give him a favorable and 21% an unfavorable rating. This represents a slight change from the April poll conducted prior to bin Laden’s death, when 57% rated him favorably and 18% unfavorably.

Among the politicians, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan scores the highest with 68% of respondents approving, and President Asif Zardai is the least popular with a mere 11% support. Nawaz Sharif has lost some of his popularity with his approval down to 63% from an earlier poll showing 71% support. Ninety two percent say that the country is heading in the wrong direction. 85 percent of those surveyed see the economic condition as bad and 60 percent fear further deterioration in the next 12 months. Most people consider rising inflation, unemployment, crime, terrorism and political corruption as key issues of the country.

Aside from confirming the ongoing India-Pakistan rivalry and mounting dissatisfaction with the nation's leadership, the Pew survey results essentially reinforce the fact that vast majority of Pakistanis are tired of rising violence and wish to be left alone by the United States, Taliban and al Qaida.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pew Poll in Pakistan 2011

Appeasement in Swat

Kashmir in Context

ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?

Pakistanis See US as Biggest Threat

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

King's Hypocrisy

Military Mutiny in Pakistan?

India's Guantanamos abd Abu Ghraibs

Obama McCain Debate on Pakistan Policy


Pankaj said...

India is Economically , Militarily and Technologically far far stronger than Pakistan

We DONT NEED Pakistan for our economic growth

So we dont mind the continuos tensions or the Arms Race

Anonymous said...


Exactly infact an economically successful pakistan will be a much much bigger threat to us that a quasi failed state kept afloat by aid led by idiots like zardari.

A strong stable enemy is NEVER in anyone's best interest.Just like a stong stable USSR despite its 80,000 nukes was never in the best interests of the US.

Though I think despite the PR I think the boffins in South block understand this....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting excerpt from a recent Washington Post story on Pakistan's China card:

Pakistanis love China just about as much as they dislike the United States: 87 percent of Pakistanis say they have a favorable view of China, compared with 12 percent who say the same about the United States, according to a Pew survey. The divergent attitudes begin early: Schoolchildren here are taught that the China-Pakistan partnership is “as high as the mountains and as deep as the seas,” but that the United States has been a fickle friend.

Those perceptions have hardened of late amid U.S. pressure on Pakistan to do more in the fight against militant groups, and a widespread sense that U.S. assistance comes with strings while China’s does not. U.S. lawmakers have been particularly critical of Pakistan since the bin Laden raid, while Pakistan has bristled not being notified in advance.

“The Chinese are not involved in internal Pakistani problems,” said Amir Rana, director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies. “Washington gives statements about Pakistan every day. China prefers to give its reaction only when needed.”

But that is not to say China does not have strong interests here. Most important, Pakistan serves as a check on the rising influence of India, China’s main rival for Asian supremacy.

Pakistan’s location is also strategically important to China. A Chinese-built deep-sea port in the southwestern Pakistani city of Gwadar offers Chinese companies a potentially faster route to natural resources — including energy supplies — in the Middle East and Africa. It also gives China a possible shortcut for transporting goods from its western regions to foreign markets, and for projecting its growing naval influence into the Arabian Sea.

But the port, which opened in 2008, has so far been a disappointment. While former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf hailed it as the next Dubai, Gwadar has attracted little business. When Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar floated the idea last month of China building a naval base at Gwadar, China politely denied any such plan.

Much of the problem is Gwadar’s isolation: The port is in Balochistan, a remote and relatively lawless province that lacks a viable road network.

Missing infrastructure

In the long term, China hopes to link Gwadar with the Karakoram Highway, another major Chinese investment in Pakistan that has yielded few dividends. The world’s highest paved international road, the highway is an engineering marvel that slices through 15,000-foot-high mountain passes, but attracts sparse traffic: A massive landslide last year buried a miles-long stretch of the road under water, and any goods being transported between Pakistan and China must now make part of the journey by boat.

Still, China is upgrading the road, which enters the country near its western border in the restive and underdeveloped Xinjiang region. Long-term plans call for the addition of an oil pipeline.

“We should have capitalized on the China opportunity far earlier. We had a highway into China in the 1980s. We could have had the first-mover advantage,” said Sakib Sherani, a former top Pakistani finance official.

But Sherani insists it is not too late: With China focused on developing its western regions, Gwadar and the Karakoram highway could fit in perfectly with those plans. “There’s a much bigger business opportunity for us, if we can get our act together,” he said.

Ahmed said...

RH: "A Chinese-built deep-sea port in the southwestern Pakistani city of Gwadar offers Chinese companies a potentially faster route to natural resources — including energy supplies — in the Middle East and Africa. It also gives China a possible shortcut for transporting goods from its western regions to foreign markets, and for projecting its growing naval influence into the Arabian Sea....
In the long term, China hopes to link Gwadar with the Karakoram Highway, another major Chinese investment in Pakistan that has yielded few dividends"

The Chinese are reputed to think long run - and this is a perfect example of that. The Karakorum Highway, btw, not a "Chinese investment" as the paper notes - Pakistan built its part upto the Chinese border (at a cost of 70 lives as workers were killed blasting a path through the mountains) and the Chinese built their part upto the Pakistani border.

Riaz Haq said...

President Obama called President Zardari ahead of his planned speech announcing US troop reductions in Afghanistan, according to VOA:

U.S. President Barack Obama called his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, Wednesday to discuss strained bilateral relations and the situation in the region.
A Pakistani statement said the two leaders agreed to take appropriate action to repair the ties between Washington and Islamabad on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. It also said President Obama appreciated Pakistan's effort in the fight against militancy.

President Zardari said the fight against extremism was in Pakistan's own interest and that it had to fight it to the finish.

The two presidents also agreed on "regular contacts and interaction at appropriate levels for the resolution of issues."

Ties between the two countries worsened significantly after the May 2 raid by U.S. special forces that killed Osama bin Laden in the northern Pakistani city of Abbottabad. The military operation has embarrassed Islamabad, which was not informed beforehand of the raid.

Also Wednesday, Pakistan's army said it was questioning four more officers about suspected ties to the banned Islamic extremist group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times analysis of the Obama speech on US troop reductions in Afghanistan:

... “What the Abbottabad raid demonstrated more vividly than ever is that we need a base to strike targets in Pakistan, and the geography is simple: You need to do that from Afghanistan,” said Bruce Reidel, a retired C.I.A. officer who conducted Mr. Obama’s first review of strategy in the region.
Their first is to assure that Afghanistan never again becomes a launching pad for attacks on the United States. But the more urgent reason is Pakistan. In his speech, Mr. Obama invited Pakistan to expand its peaceful cooperation in the region, but also noted that Pakistan must live up to its commitments and that “the U.S. will never tolerate a tolerate a safe haven for those who would destroy us.”

Pakistan has already made it clear, however, that it will never allow American forces to be based there. As relations have turned more hostile with the United States in recent months, it has refused to issue visas to large numbers of C.I.A. officers, and seems to be moving quickly to close the American drone base in Shamsi, Pakistan.

For their part, administration officials make it clearer than ever that they view Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist groups as the more urgent problem. “We don’t see a transnational threat coming out of Afghanistan,” a senior administration official briefing reporters before the president’s speech said Wednesday. Later he added, “The threat has come from Pakistan.”

Those realities have placed increasing pressure on Obama administration officials to secure some long-term success from the long war in Afghanistan. That is by no means guaranteed. As the bulk of international forces leave, the country may yet descend into civil war and chaos.

Indeed, several senior administration officials acknowledged in recent days that the announcement by Mr. Obama merely put the best face possible on three-year plan to retreat from what was once a expansive experiment in nation-building.

The key goal now will be a diminished one — a counterterrorism mission to finish off Al Qaeda — that is far closer to the mission that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and some political aides at the White House argued for 18 months ago. With Wednesday’s announcement, President Obama indicated that he has slowly inched toward that view as well.

“The hard part over the next few years will be proving to the Afghans that there is something in this for them,” Mr. Reidel said.

That is particularly difficult because what the Afghans may well draw from Mr. Obama’s prime-time speech is that the Americans are leaving again — just as they did after the Soviet Union gave up its war in 1989 — but this time more slowly.

Over the past decade, the Afghans heard many promises from Washington. Months after ordering the invasion that drove out the Taliban government, President George W. Bush declared that the United States would initiate a new Marshall Plan for Afghanistan; it never fully materialized.

In 2009 Mr. Obama spoke of a “civilian surge” of “agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers” who would train Afghans how to create a modern country. The results have been limited, and in Wednesday night’s speech, Mr. Obama never mentioned those goals.

Administration officials insist that those efforts will continue, despite the drawdown. Even after all the “surge” forces return home, there will still be 68,000 American troops on the ground next year — more than twice the number that were in Afghanistan the day Mr. Obama took office.

But over time, the counterterrorism mission will require fewer troops in the region, administration officials said.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting LA Times Op Ed on Obama's Afghan troop-reduction speech before it was delivered:

Here's some important new information that President Obama should certainly leave out of his big Afghanistan speech Wednesday evening:

Only 12% of people in our most important regional ally, Pakistan, now have a positive view of the United States. And only 8% express confidence in the American leader to do the right thing, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

This could have something to do with deadly U.S. drone raids on Pakistan and the assassination of Osama bin Laden there in a commando incursion; a whopping 14% of Pakistanis think the latter was a good thing.
Obama's latest speech will be directed solely at Americans, who have begun registering impatience with the war, especially since Obama joined another one in Libya in March that he said would last days, not weeks, and has now gone on for months.

The president is in a mess of his own making. He built his initial national political persona on opposition to Bush's Iraq war because, the former U.S. senator argued, it distracted America from the far more important conflict against Al Qaeda, the Taliban and terrorism in Afghanistan, which was the haven for Al Qaeda's 9/11 training.

Bush's Iraq surge worked, however, enabling Obama to proclaim victory and transfer those troops. This, in turn, enabled Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate who wanted to slice Iraq into three parts, to go on cable TV and with no sense of irony call Iraq one of Obama's "great achievements."

That left the Afghanistan war, 10 years old this fall, where Al Qaeda forces were making gains against the invisible central government. When Obama became commander-in-chief, the United States had 32,000 troops there. Today it has 100,000.

Since 2001, 1,632 Americans have died there, 696 of them (43%) during the 882 days of Obama's presidency.

At West Point in his Afghanistan surge speech, sending in 30,000 more pairs of U.S. boots, Obama spoke 4,582 words. He said "Al Qaeda" 22 times and "Taliban" 12 times. He said the word "victory" zero times.
Wow, is it almost July 2011 already? So, Wednesday night Obama will announce how many American troops will start leaving in 10 days. Key word there: Start. Technically, one planeload would be a start.

Initial word was 5,000, possibly in the first month. Sinking poll numbers for both Obama and the war, however, suggest the president will go higher, much higher. Strategic leaks by aides this week say the drawdown could be as large as 33,000 by election day next year. Something that size would likely disconcert allies.

But that is a politically tidy total exactly equal to the last inbound surge. It's also larger than some military experts believe is wise, if you don't want to discard a developing win given what Gen. David Petraeus has called the "fragile" progress there.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday the president had to factor growing public and congressional war fatigue into his drawdown decision. Speaking of war, Gates reportedly opposed the attack on Libya. Perhaps now the tight-lipped loyalist to a Republican and a Democratic president also thinks the size of withdrawal is excessive. His retirement takes effect the day before the drawdown starts. Maybe coincidence.


Mayraj said...

US-funded Afghan militias 'beat, rob and kill with impunity'
American-funded Afghan militias raised to protect villages from the Taliban have begun to prey on residents and in some cases are beating, robbing and even killing with impunity it is claimed.

Many Afghans view the forces as a throwback to the civil war when warlords maintained their own marauding private armies. They are also a reminder of Russian-backed militias which operated around Kandahar in the late 1980s.

Gul Mohammad, a 47-year-old farmer from Lako Kheyl in western Zhari district, said a trader in livestock had been arrested nearby by the force a month ago.

"They put him in their custody. They killed him and his body was found in a stream. He was going to Helmand to buy sheep. He had $10,000 dollars (£6,250) on him and they took it.

"If there were no Americans in the area, these people would steal our turbans."

Both the United Nations and Oxfam have expressed concern about the ALP.

Haji Mohammad Ehsan, deputy leader of Kandahar's provincial council, said: "Yes, these things are happening. We hope we can improve this and stop these abuses as we continue. For the past 30 years we Afghan people have suffered from this."

Engineer Abdul Qadr, director of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in Kandahar, said the freedom of the ALP was attracting the less disciplined members of the more formal Afghan National Police.

He said: "The Arbakai are also a good source of corruption. The money is being divided up and used by strongmen."

Meanwhile Robert Gates, US defence secretary, confirmed America had been in contact with the Taliban in recent weeks, but warned peace discussions were "very preliminary at this point".

"My own view is that real reconciliation talks are not likely to be able to make any substantive headway until at least this winter," he said.

"I think that the Taliban have to feel themselves under military pressure, and begin to believe that they can't win before they're willing to have a serious conversation."

Asadi said...

The CIA will help to degrade further Pakistani defenses before the upcoming US war on Pakistan followed by the false flag terrorist operation conducted by the CIA in the USA.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on US seeking to maintain "vital" ties with Pakistan:

"This is a long-term, frustrating, frankly sometimes very outraging kind of experience," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about dealing with Pakistan in an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations committee yesterday. "And yet, I don't see any alternative, if you look at vital American national interests."

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday that "the entire chain of command in the United States through the president thinks it's important that we sustain this relationship even through its most difficult times."

At the heart of U.S.-Pakistani tension is how much influence Pakistan will wield over Afghanistan as the U.S. reduces its role there, beginning with a withdrawal of 33,000 soldiers by September 2012.

Close Bases

The U.S. has demanded since at least 2004 that Pakistan close bases in its western borderlands from which Taliban guerrillas attack American and Afghan government troops. Since the 1980s, Pakistan's army covertly has supported the Taliban and allied guerrilla groups as a way to keep Afghanistan from allying with Pakistan's arch-foe, India, and prevent it from pursuing historic claims to rule parts of what is now Pakistan.

When asked by a lawmaker about Pakistan's role, Mullen replied that "there's great risk in the strategy tied to Pakistan. There has been from the beginning."

Mullen and Clinton were the highest level administration officials to visit Pakistan after the U.S. commando raid that killed bin Laden, an operation the U.S. conducted without informing Pakistani leaders. CIA chief Leon Panetta made an unannounced visit there the day after his June 9 Senate confirmation hearing to become defense secretary.

Task Force

Administration officials point to signs in the past few weeks that Pakistani leaders also want to maintain the relationship, including a recent accord establishing a joint counterterrorism task force and the killing or capture of "several very key extremists," Clinton said.

In Pakistan, the question of whether to sustain the relationship is up for debate, said Seth Jones, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation.

There is "an internal struggle within Pakistan's key national security agencies about the state of the relationship, whether it's worthwhile, whether it should continue, and that will be an ongoing process," said Jones, who has served as a military adviser in the region.

The raid on bin Laden's compound has been denounced by many Pakistanis as a breach of sovereignty. In a May meeting, the army's top generals pushed General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to explain why Pakistan supports the U.S.

Second Term

While Pakistan's army remains highly disciplined, Kayani's authority may face greater challenges from the officer corps as he serves an unprecedented second term as commander, said Brian Cloughley, a historian of the Pakistan military. An increasing number of military officers "have begun to see this war as America's war," said Javed Hussain, a retired Pakistani army brigadier, in a June 16 phone interview.
"When it comes to Pakistan, there is a ledger," said Clinton. "On one side of the ledger are a lot of actions that we really disapprove of and find inimicable to our values and even our interests, and then on the other side of the ledger there are actions that are very much in line with what we are seeking and want. So we're constantly balancing and weighing that."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/06/23/bloomberg1376-LN7RUW1A1I4H01-0PH0MTPFMMM6AME7864K6RNEMJ.DTL&ao=2#ixzz1QAgAsX1h

Mayraj said...

Andrew Bacevich, War Fever Subsides in Washington

Imagine yourself in a typical "Twilight Zone" episode. You’ve been tossing and turning in delirium for some time and now, to your astonishment, you wake up to find yourself in an almost unrecognizable world. Your country, the former “sole superpower” on planet Earth, is in domestic gridlock, a financial hole, and can’t win a war anywhere anytime. The United States is looking strangely like what a past American president once called “a pitiful, helpless giant.” The Democratic peace president is presiding over numerous wars and sending American planes and pilotless drones off to bomb and missile countries you didn’t even know existed, and yet when he speaks to the world, when he tells other countries and other leaders what they “must” do, no one seems to be listening.

Befuddlingly enough, a number of the politicians who were war hawks not so long ago are now demanding that funding for American wars be cut off or that American troops be brought home at a faster pace; some are even suggesting that the Pentagon budget should be cut. The ranks of the miniscule antiwar camp in Washington have swelled remarkably and with an array of unexpected faces. The usual political alliances seem to be cracking open. And above all, though you can see that America’s wars are likely to grind on haplessly for years, it’s also increasingly evident that once familiar political ground is shifting uneasily, and that something is happening here, even if you don’t know what it is. (Do you, Mr. Jones?)

This being our state today, TomDispatch has taken the prudent step of calling in the doctor. So today, Andrew Bacevich, author most recently of the bestselling Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, takes America’s temperature, prescribing rest and a lot less activity abroad in hopes that the patient will actually recover.

Riaz Haq said...

The US cost of war id $3.7 trillion and counting, reports Reuters:

If the financial costs are elusive, so too is the human toll.

The report estimates between 224,475 and 257,655 have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, though those numbers give a false sense of precision. There are many sources of data on civilian deaths, most with different results.

The civilian death toll in Iraq -- 125,000 -- and the number of Saddam's security forces killed in invasion -- 10,000 -- are loose estimates. The U.S. military does not publish a thorough accounting.

"We don't do body counts," Tommy Franks, the U.S. commander in Iraq, famously said after the fall of Saddam in 2003.

In Afghanistan, the civilian death count ranges from 11,700 to 13,900. For Pakistan, where there is little access to the battlefield and the United States fights mostly through aerial drone attacks, the study found it impossible to distinguish between civilian and insurgent deaths.

The numbers only consider direct deaths -- people killed by bombs or bullets. Estimates for indirect deaths in war vary so much that researchers considered them too arbitrary to report.

"When the fighting stops, the indirect dying continues. It's in fact worse than land mines. The healthcare system is still in bad shape. People are still suffering the effects of malnutrition and so on," Crawford said.

Even where the United States does do body counts -- for the members of the military -- the numbers may come up short of reality, said Lutz, the study's co-director. When veterans return home, they are more likely to die in suicides and automobile accidents.

"The rate of chaotic behavior," she said, "is high." (Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Missy Ryan, Brett Gering, Laura MacInnis and Sharon Reich; Editing by Doina Chiacu)


Anonymous said...


Relax Riaz,Pakistan is not getting into the SCO without India.This is Russia's official position.

In addition Asian NATO is a very unlikely prospect given that China and Russia have deep suspiciaons over each other.

Central Asians too have unfavourable views of China especially after the crackdown in xinjiang in 2008.

Riaz Haq said...

THE CIA has been ordered out of a desert airbase in Pakistan from where it launched deadly Predator drone strikes against al-Qa'ida, according to The Australian:

The Shamsi base in Baluchistan has been at the forefront of the US's counterterrorism operations in the region. But the fall-out from the mission by US navy SEALs on May 2 to kill Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad appears to have finally brought to an end the secret arrangement with the CIA, which allowed the intelligence agency to hit terrorist and Taliban targets in North Waziristan on the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said the US had been told to stop launching strikes from Shamsi. The move represents the latest blow to US-Pakistani relations, which have been seriously damaged since the killing of bin Laden.

Washington has made it clear that Pakistan must have colluded to hide the al-Qa'ida leader for five years within its borders. At the same time, Pakistan is furious the US engaged in a military strike on the Abbottabad compound without its knowledge.

Pakistani authorities have also claimed that dozens of women and children have been killed by the Predator attacks, and outrage over the strikes has sparked civilian protests.

The numbers are disputed by the US, where officials say no civilians have been killed since August last year and that about 30 died during the previous 12 months.

Mr Mukhtar said: "We have told them to leave the airbase."

The news took the US by surprise yesterday. The CIA declined to comment, but a US official said: "This is news to us. American operations against terrorists in Pakistan are continuing."

Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the number of Predator attacks from Shamsi has accelerated, resulting in the deaths of 20 of the 30 most wanted al-Qa'ida leaders hiding in Pakistan's tribal northwest.
...the increasing political and military tensions between Pakistan and the US could increase should the drone strikes continue, even if they are launched from Afghanistan, because such a move would breach Pakistani sovereignty.

The closure of the operations at Shamsi, a small airfield about 320km southwest of Quetta, would be a blow for the CIA, although with relations between Washington and Islamabad at such a low ebb it seemed unlikely the base would remain a permanent location for secret missions. Pakistani politics and growing anti-US sentiment in the country made it inevitable the CIA would have to find alternative arrangements for its Predators.


Riaz Haq said...

Top TTP leader defects, according to Christian Science Monitor:

Karachi, Pakistan, The defection of a top Taliban militant commander in the troubled Kurrum tribal belt bordering Afghanistan is the first major sign of a split within the Pakistani Taliban. The split could benefit both Pakistan and the US, say analysts.

The notorious militant commander, Fazal Saeed Haqqani, announced his decision to quit the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) along with hundreds of militants and form his own group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Islami.

“I repeatedly told the leadership of the TTP that they should stop suicide attacks against mosques, markets, and other civilian targets,” the commander, who is in his late 30s, told reporters in Kurrum Agency on Monday.

“The TTP is doing in Pakistan what Americans are doing in Afghanistan, killing innocent civilians,” said the commander, adding that he would continue his fight against the Americans.

The TTP, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, claims responsibility for most of the recent deadly suicide attacks across the country. The fracture within this terrorist outfit may be welcome news to Pakistan’s military, which has failed to break its backbone despite increasing US pressure and military offensives along the Afghan border.

“It is a good message for Pakistan and America both,” says Peshawar-based analyst Brig. (Ret.) Mehmood Shah. “This is the first dissenting voice from within and that, too, is coming from a powerful commander. It will definitely fracture the TTP, isolate it, and there might be more cracks to be seen in the near future.”

“It’s like clipping the wings of the TTP, especially in the important tribal area of Kurrum,” he suggests.

Location, location, location

Kurrum carries tremendous significance for Pakistan and the US as it is the shortest route to Kabul from anywhere in Pakistan (here's a map of Kurrum). It borders Khost in the south, Paktia in the southwest, and Nagarhar in the north – all provinces considered to be strongholds of the Afghan Taliban.

The Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani terror network, under the pressure of American drones in North Waziristan, have been eyeing Kurrum to get access to Afghanistan in order to join the Afghan Taliban in their fight against the US-led forces.


Riaz Haq said...

Emerging market specialist investor Mark Mobius sees investment opportunity in Pakistan as China-Pakistan alliance grows, according to Business Recorder:

Pakistan is set to benefit from its strategic importance to China, which is seeking to cement relationships with countries surrounding India, Franklin Templeton's Mark Mobius said. "They are trying to secure their lines of transport and communication," he said.

"That means Pakistan is quite critical." Mobius said he wants to start investing in Libya in the next 12 months as the oil producer emerges from civil war and looks to outside investment. The country of six million people benefits from oil resources, potential for tourism and a large land area, the veteran emerging markets investor told journalists on Monday, adding that it had a very well-run stock market.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's another view of Pakistan's "China Card":

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan— For at least a handful of Chinese soldiers, the television footage of Abbottabad around the Osama bin Laden raid was familiar. In December 2006, the city was the site of an extensive set of joint Sino-Pakistani counterterrorism exercises. The “large-scale intelligence gathering,” “ambushes,” and “search and destroy missions” unfortunately failed to get anywhere near the world’s most wanted terrorist, who is believed to have set up house in this Pakistani garrison town earlier that year.

It is understandable that the Sino-Pakistani relationship provokes suspicion. And since the U.S. Navy Seals conducted their more efficacious mission here, speculation has been rife that China is primed to take advantage of the deterioration in U.S.-Pakistani ties. Beijing’s expressions of solidarity with Islamabad, coupled with announcements that it will expedite the delivery of 50 JF-17 fighter jets and may assume operational control of the port at Gwadar, have given some the impression that Chinese support is now a plausible back-up plan for Pakistan. This has been reinforced by certain Pakistani politicians who have been keen to demonstrate, both to the West and to their own public, that even in the tightest of spots they still have a reliable (and generous) friend.

Indeed, China has privately assured Pakistan that it would protect it from any international sanctions push that might ensue. Beijing is also pressing ahead with initiatives on the ground, despite countless slowdowns and security challenges. Chinese companies likely will assume responsibility for Gwadar following the resolution of a legal case against its current Singaporean operator. Work continues on the expansion of the Karakoraum Highway connecting the two countries. And major power projects, including the controversial Chashma nuclear power plants and an assortment of hydro-electric dams, are expected to proceed. Military cooperation, too, will remain at the core of the relationship. China’s desire for Pakistan to maintain a strategic balance with India means that aside from conventional arms supplies and the joint development of frigates and jet fighters, Beijing is willing to provide continued support to the most sensitive elements of Pakistan’s weapons programs, such as ballistic missile technology. China hopes this support will engender a stable, economically capable Pakistan that can act as both security balancer and trade corridor, though no one in Beijing is holding their breath.

But although the scope of Sino-Pakistani ties is undeniable, there is also a mutual appreciation of their limits. Beijing has made it clear that it sees more risk than opportunity in the worsening U.S.-Pakistani relationship. And despite the rhetoric, expectations in Islamabad of the level of Chinese support are realistically modest. While China is willing to fund tangible projects in Pakistan, it has been consistently reluctant to provide direct financial assistance on a serious scale. Beijing is already frustrated with the current level of assistance it feels it needs to provide; Chinese “investments” in Pakistan are effectively bilateral aid, financed through state companies and banks with no expectation of an economic return.


Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a Credit Suisse press release after a recent investment conference in London:

Speaking on the sidelines of Credit Suisse’s first Asean and Pakistan Conference in London last week, Credit Suisse analysts covering Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Pakistan outlined the case for investing in a group of Asian emerging markets that are not as well known as China or India, but which boast compelling growth and valuation stories.

“Southeast Asia offers investors remarkable opportunities,” commented Stephen Hagger, Credit Suisse’s Country Head and Head of Equities for Malaysia. “These opportunities are created by common themes that apply across many of the markets in this family – themes like infrastructure investment, the increasing spending power of domestic consumers and the growth of financial services.”

“We held this pioneering investor conference in London to draw attention to this story, which has real scale and momentum, and to offer our clients insight into allocating capital to the region,” added Mr. Hagger. Nine corporates from Southeast Asia and Pakistan participated in the conference along with around 40 UK-based investors from 28 funds.

Farhan Rizvi, Credit Suisse’s Head of Research for Pakistan, focused on the banking sector in this South Asian country of 187m people, arguing that Pakistan’s market offered some of the most attractive valuations in Asia for banking stocks. Mr. Rizvi said that the banking sector had de-levered since the 2008 crisis, adding that loan-to-deposit ratios had eased to 60% from a 74% high and that Pakistan’s loan-to-GDP ratio of 22% was the lowest in non-Japan Asia. He added that asset quality had improved as a result and that net interest margins should remain positive at 6.7% in 2011 because of expected tightening and static deposit costs. Rising government appetite for fiscal financing, on the other hand, will drive growth in earning assets. “Pakistan is largely ignored by investors, but we believe its banking sector can achieve average annual earnings growth of 18% between 2011 and 2013,” commented Mr. Rizvi, who upgraded Pakistan’s banking stocks to Overweight on June 27. Beyond the banking sector, Mr. Rizvi said there were also attractive valuations and growth potential in the oil and fertilizer sectors.


Mayraj said...

In one of the most riveting stories in the articles writer William Dalrymple wrote for the left-leaning British publication New Statesman, an Afghan tribal elder chats with the writer over a glass of green tea:

"'Last month, some American officers called us to a hotel in Jalalabad for a meeting,' he said. 'One of them asked me: "Why do you hate us?"

'I replied: "Because you blow down our doors, enter our houses, pull our women by the hair and kick our children. We cannot accept this. We will fight back, and we will break your teeth, and when your teeth are broken you will leave, just as the British left before you. It is just a matter of time."

What did he say to that? 'He turned to his friend and said: "If the old men are like this, what will the younger ones be like?"

'In truth, all the Americans here know their game is over. It is just their politicians who deny this.'"

'All Americans in Afghanistan know that their game is over'
'Americans may end up backing Tajiks or warlords'

'The West allowed Afghanistan to rot'

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed by former Indian diplomat K. Bhadrakumar published in The Hindu:

It all goes back to the detention of the U.S. intelligence operative and former army man, Raymond Davis, in Lahore in January in circumstances that are not still quite clear. At any rate, ever since Mr. Davis' detention in January, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been in disarray. Mr. Davis was kept under detention for two months and subjected to intense grilling. It stands to reason that the Pakistani authorities got to know all that they wanted to know and were afraid to ask their American allies for quite some time about the gamut of their covert activities in Pakistan — vis-à-vis insurgent groups and the Pakistani military and security establishment. The chilling truth is that U.S. President Barack Obama personally intervened to get Mr. Davis released but Pakistan held on to him for yet another month in an extraordinary display of defiance. Suffice to say, the alchemy of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has since changed almost unrecognisably — from both ends.

Pakistan promptly began acting on Mr. Davis' revelations and drew the famous “red lines” — asking the U.S. (and the British) military personnel to leave; demanding that the U.S. cease its covert operations on Pakistani soil; insisting that future cooperation in intelligence should be based on explicit ground rules. In short, Pakistan understood that the U.S. had gone about establishing direct talks with the Taliban, keeping it out of the loop. A fundamental contradiction has arisen. Pakistan's cooperation in the U.S.-led war — starting from the seminal understanding reached between the two countries following the crucial visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell to Islamabad on October 16, 2001 — has been predicated on the American pledge that Islamabad would be a key player in any Afghanistan settlement and Washington would accommodate Pakistan's legitimate security interests.

But then, the war has transformed, the regional environment has changed and U.S.' priorities have changed. What began as a Texan-style revenge act against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington is today imbued with the hidden agenda of the U.S.' regional strategies. It has become imperative for the U.S. to deal directly with the Taliban and not through intermediaries. Admittedly, the U.S. is looking for an end to the war and is willing to accommodate the Taliban, provided the latter acquiesces to its military bases in Afghanistan.

However, Washington has factored in that after the Davis affair, there is no way Pakistan would cooperate with a U.S. strategy to establish a permanent military presence in Afghanistan. Put simply, Pakistan can never trust the U.S.' intentions and Washington is aware of that. Thus was born the U.S. counterstrategy to turn the table on Pakistan. The sudden pullout of U.S. troops from Pech valley in the province of Kunar in eastern Afghanistan began on February 15 while Mr. Davis was under detention, and it was completed in two months' time. What followed since then was entirely predictable — various insurgent groups ranging from the Afghani and Pakistani Taliban, Hizb-i-Islami, al-Qaeda affiliates and the Lashkar-e-Taiba have consolidated their safe haven in Kunar. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. intelligence has already made contacts with some of them. Therefore, what began happening since May along the Durand Line can be aptly described as a “low-intensity war” against Pakistan.

Cross-border attacks, shelling, terrorist strikes and wanton destruction have become a daily occurrence. Armed groups come down from Kunar and neighbouring provinces to attack Pakistani forces, which retaliate with artillery fire; ....


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Telegraph story on CIA's use of vaccination to confirm bin Laden presence in Abbottabad:

Having traced a bin Laden courier to a walled compound in the town of Abottabad, agents wanted to confirm the al-Qaeda leader was living there before raiding it.

They began a complicated ruse by recruiting a senior Pakistani government doctor to offer Hepatitis B vaccinations to local people, according to the Guardian and American newspapers.

A nurse working for the program was then admitted to the compound to give vaccinations to the children there.

The CIA hoped to obtain DNA from the children and match it to that of bin Laden's sister who had died at a hospital in Boston last year. It is not known how successful the scheme was.

The doctor involved was reportedly detained by Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency weeks after the US raid on the compound in early May, in which bin Laden was killed.

Officials in the US are said to have intervened in an attempt to secure the doctor's release.

The Pakistani authorities and the CIA did not comment on the report.

Relations between the two countries — awkward at the best of times — have hit new lows after American special forces launched a covert raid to kill Osama bin Laden in May.

Pakistan has expelled US military personnel and delayed visas for diplomatic staff.

The US has now halted $800 million (£500 million) in assistance in protest at Pakistan's decision to expel military trainers, and in frustration at the perceived slow pace of hitting militant hide-outs in North Waziristan.

Hamid Gul, a former director of the ISI, said withholding aid would simply turn public opinion more "caustic" and delay any large-scale campaign against militants.

“Why should they go into North Waziristan now? They were making commitments to do it, but these threat, master and slave treatment, this arm twisting, will not work,” he said.

Pakistan has long promised to launch a major ground offensive in North Waziristan, a rugged tribal area home to militants with the Haqqani network, from where they launch cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

US officials have raised the issue repeatedly with their Pakistani counterparts, who say they are still trying to put down insurgencies elsewhere and are not ready to deal with a terrorist backlash likely to result from opening a fresh front.

Holding back aid is unlikely to increase co-operation and could strengthen those in the government who argue that Washington is a fickle ally who can’t be trusted, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US.

“If you still need the relationship, which clearly the United States does, then it really doesn’t make sense to take action at this time because it leaves the United States with less, not more, influence with the Pakistani military,” she said. “Co-operation cannot be coerced by punitive actions.”

For its part, the Pakistani military has played down the cut in aid.

Military figures insist it will make no difference to their ability to take on militants or delay their long-standing promise to launch a ground offensive in North Waziristan.

“We will continue to fight this war with or without them,” said a senior security official. “Without them we will do it in our own sweet time.”


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Time Magazine blog on US decision to cut $800 million in military aid to Pakistan:

So while Pakistan's military brass wanted their relationship with the U.S., they would not pursue it at the expense of their own national interest. Hence, for example, their refusal to act against Afghan Taliban forces inside Pakistan even when they were launching offensives against the Pakistani Taliban (those militant groups who were targeting the Pakistani state). As far as Pakistan's generals are concerned, their country has made massive sacrifices to support the U.S. campaign -- twice as many Pakistan security personnel as Americans have been killed in clashes with militants since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. And while U.S. officials routinely scold Pakistan for inadequate attention to the threat of militant jihadism on its own soil, many Pakistani leaders see that domestic insurgency as having been unleashed in response to Islamabad's support for the U.S. in Afghanistan, and believe it will only die down once the Americans withdraw from an invasion many Pakistani leaders have always believed was ill-considered and perilous to their own interests.

It's hard to imagine Pakistan changing its ways, now, in response to a public tightening of U.S. pursestrings. If anything, Pakistan will be tempted to do whatever it can to hasten the Americans' departure from Afghanistan -- on terms favorable to Islamabad.

And, of course, it has some leverage of its own if it chooses to push back further than it already has done since the Abottabad raid in response to the U.S. funding cut. First and foremost, there's the fact that some 60% of the supplies on which the NATO mission in Afghanistan depends are delivered by road through Pakistan. Last September, Pakistan responded to the killing of two of its soldiers by a U.S. military helicopter by closing a key border crossing for nearly two weeks. That created a massive backlog of supply trucks, many of which were destroyed in attacks by local Taliban allies. And in the wake of the Bin Laden raid, Pakistan's parliament discussed cutting those supply lines in retaliation for the violation of their sovereignty.

The U.S. military has been preparing for such an eventuality by opening more expensive supply routes through Afghanistan's northern neighbors, which now carry 40% of the traffic (previously, some 95% had gone through Pakistan). The U.S. military's aim is reduce Pakistan's share of the supply traffic to 25% by year's end, although the northern routes raise the cost of sustaining supply levels.

And in the longer term, Pakistan is deepening its historic strategic ties with China, based on a common rivalry with India, and hoping to see Beijing fill some of the gap left by a retraction of U.S. support. China's own strategic ambitions in the Indian Ocean may give it an incentive to do just that -- it's already helping Pakistan develop its port and naval facilities.

Both sides, then, have been making preparations for the sort of deterioration in ties that have emerged this week. And while Washington may see Pakistan's basket-case economy and the threat of instability that poses as dictating greater cooperation by Islamabad in order to secure U.S. aid, Islamabad may see the precarious U.S. position in Afghanistan and the American desire for an expeditious but credible exit plan -- and even concerns over cutting loose a nuclear-armed ally, no matter how troublesome -- as setting limits on just how far the U.S. is willing to push Pakistan. In light of the combination of public sentiment and perception of national interests in Pakistan, it ought to surprise no observer of this high stakes poker game if Pakistan's response to Washington anteing up is not to fold, but rather to double down.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's how former Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi sees US aid cut, according to IISS:

Dr Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK and Ambassador to the US, referred to the Beatles hit ‘Money can’t buy me love’ when discussing the politics of US aid flows to Pakistan. Lodhi spoke at the IISS on ‘Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State’ – the title of a book she has recently edited and written in – and stressed that sustainable progress in her country could ‘only come from within’.

The speaker encouraged a reassessment of Pakistan as ‘a fragile state but a resilient society’, and spoke of the need ‘to put the accent also... on the positives’ rather than relying upon the ‘single issue lens through which Pakistan has been viewed of late’, particularly in light of Osama bin Laden’s death and questions of Pakistan’s complicity in his evasion of capture for almost a decade.

She emphasised the interconnectedness of the problems the country currently faces, from political ineptitude and economic mismanagement to poor education and wider geostrategic issues, and called for ‘a holistic approach that is able to address all of these as we go forward’.

Dr Lodhi laid the blame of many of these issues on the ruling elite. She described the political culture of Pakistan as ‘a system that focuses on the parochial’; one predicated on the perceived obligation of politicians to reward supporters rather than to concentrate on the needs of wider society. She also denigrated it as ‘ossified’, particularly because of the outdated censuses that elections rely on, and considered electoral reform crucial to more representative government.

Questions following the discussion focused predominantly on bin Laden’s death, particularly the impact of this event of US-Pakistan relations. ‘The suggestions of complicity goes much too far’, according to Lodhi, especially given the suffering caused to Pakistanis at the hands of al-Qaeda. Yet she did concede that bin Laden’s refuge in Abbotabad at least pointed to holes in Pakistani intelligence gathering, and the question of how he evaded capture for so long was one that ‘the people of Pakistan are asking’.

Lodhi also addressed the high levels of anti-American sentiment across Pakistan – something which she considered ‘the result of the burden of history’, and which had a ‘mirror image’ in America: ‘Both have a low opinion of the other, both feel they gave so much yet got so little’. Despite this, and the negative impact of recent events on this relationship, Lodhi envisaged a pivotal role for Pakistan in future US policy in the region, particularly if Washington moves towards political reconciliation in Afghanistan.


Mayraj said...

How Bin Laden died dwelling on past glories: CIA reveals he had 'no hand in planning attacks after 2005 and 7/7 was his last'

* Former Al Qaeda boss had advance knowledge of Tube and bus bomb plot
* CIA evidence shows he was not involved in any other attacks for six years

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a VOA report about Clinton and Panetta on US-Pakistan relations:

.. at a public forum with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Washington’s National Defense University, the defense chief was unusually candid about U.S. problem issues with Pakistan.

Panetta said Pakistan has "relationships” with the Haqqani network - militants based in western Pakistan who conduct cross-border attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and with Lashkar-e-Taiba militants who have attacked India.

Both groups are listed by the United States as terrorist organizations. Despite complaints that Pakistan has withheld visas for U.S. citizens being posted there, Panetta said the relationship remains essential.

“There is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan," said Panetta. "Why? Because we are fighting a war there. We are fighting al-Qaida there. And they do give us some cooperation in that effort. Because they do represent an important force in that region. Because they do happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons, and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons. So for all of those reasons, we’ve got to maintain a relationship with Pakistan.”

Secretary of State Clinton said the Obama administration considers relations with Pakistan to be of “paramount importance.”

She said there have been “challenges” in bilateral ties for decades with valid complaints on both sides, and that she credits the Islamabad government with lately recognizing its shared interest with Washington in confronting terrorism.

“I was very pleased when the Pakistanis moved into [the] Swat [Valley] and cleaned out a lot of what had become a kind of Pakistani Taliban stronghold," said Clinton. "And then they began to take some troops off their border with India, to put more resources into the fight against the Pakistani Taliban. Now, as Leon [Panetta] says, we have some other targets that we discuss with them - the Haqqanis, for example. And yet it’s been a relatively short period of time, two-and-a-half years, when they have begun to reorient themselves militarily against what is, in our view, an internal threat to them.”

The State Department on Tuesday designated a key Haqqani network commander - Mullah Sangeen Zadran - a terrorist under a 2001 White House executive order, freezing any U.S. assets he has and barring Americans from business dealings with him.

At the same time, Sangeen was designated a terrorist by the U.N. sanctions committee, which will subject him to a global travel ban, an asset freeze and an arms embargo.

A State Department statement said Sangeen, is a “shadow governor” of Afghanistan’s southeast Paktika province and a senior lieutenant of network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. It said Sangeen has coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into that country and that he is linked to numerous bomb attacks and kidnappings.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Christian Science Monitor report on recent decline in terror attacks and casualties in Pakistan:

A downturn in major terror attacks in the second half of the year and an overall decrease in civilian casualties at the hands of terrorists point to better policing and a gradual decline in the potency of militant groups, say officials and experts.

"Earlier, the Taliban would come with heavy weapons and attack and kill and slaughter at will. Those days are gone," says Fiaz Toru, former inspector general for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, credited with implementing a set of sweeping reforms to combat the threat posed by terrorists surrounding the province's main city of Peshawar.

In Pakistan's major cities, there have been no spectacular attacks since a daring siege carried out over two days by Taliban militants on a Karachi naval base in May in revenge for the bin Laden raid. Some 1,022 civilians have fallen victim to bomb attacks in 2011. Barring a late-year surge, this represents the lowest figure in four years, according to monitoring conducted by the New Delhi-based South Asia Terrorism Portal (last year the figure was 1,547, and it stood at 1,688 the year before).

A major part of that has to do with the removal of soft targets, says Rifaat Hussain, a security analyst at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad: "They [now] have genuine difficulty carrying out spectacular attacks."

In Peshawar, that has meant equipping police with heavy weaponry including mortars, grenade launchers, and heavy guns, as well as deploying some 2,000 police at more than 42 checkpoints on the outskirts of the city, says Mr. Toru, the former inspector general, and arming citizens to create a community police force that can act as authorities' eyes and ears.

"We've adopted a policy of proactive policing," explains Toru. Police are now routinely sent on operations in Peshawar's suburbs to root out suspected militants and materials used to construct bombs. The police's increasing responsibility has been accompanied by a doubling of salary and an increase in "martyrdom payout" (a kind of life-insurance payout that now stands at some $35,000). Perhaps, too, the Pakistani Taliban are aware of the cost of suicide attacks, adds Dr. Hussain: Where once the public sympathized with militants, groups that carry out suicide attacks are now ostracized.
Still, the overall picture is far from rosy: While organized terror strikes may be down, sectarian attacks carried out largely by LeJ against Shiite targets have in fact surged, particularly in the western province of Balochistan.

"The cities seem to be ominously quiet right now, but sectarian violence [in other areas] continues. A key test will be Muharram – how peaceful or how violent that will be," says Hussain, referring to the first month of the Islamic calendar, in which fighting is prohibited.

And while Pakistan's security forces may have gotten better at dealing with terrorism, Toru says internal reforms can only go so far. "I am optimistic, but the key lies in Afghanistan.… You need a stable Afghanistan to have a stable Pakistan. But we've come through the most critical phase of our struggle."


Riaz Haq said...

Education, income, and favoring #Pakistan #Taliban? Better educated, higher income #Pakistanis favor #TTP much less. http://brook.gs/1W1U2sz

Brookings Op Ed by Madiha Afzal:

My latest analysis with data from the March 2013 Pew Global Attitudes poll conducted in Pakistan sheds new light on the relationship between years of education and Pakistanis’ views of the Taliban, and lends supports to the conventional wisdom. The survey sampled 1,201 respondents throughout Pakistan, except the most insecure areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. This was a time of mounting terror attacks by the Pakistani Taliban (a few months after their attack on Malala), and came at the tail end of the Pakistan People's Party’s term in power, before the May 2013 general elections.

On attitudes toward the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), 3 percent of respondents to the Pew poll said they had a very favorable view, 13 percent reported somewhat favorable views, while nearly 17 percent and 39 percent answered that they had somewhat unfavorable and very unfavorable views, respectively. A large percentage of respondents (28 percent) chose not to answer the question or said they did not know their views. This is typical with a sensitive survey question such as this one, in a context as insecure as Pakistan.

So overall levels of support for the TTP are low, and the majority of respondents report having unfavorable views. The non-responses could reflect those who have unfavorable views but choose not to respond because of fear, or those who may simply not have an opinion on the Pakistani Taliban.

The first part of my analysis cross-tabulates attitudes toward the TTP with education and income respectively. I look at the distribution of attitudes for each education and income category (with very and somewhat favorable views lumped together as favorable; similarly for unfavorable attitudes).

Figure 1 shows that an increasing percentage of respondents report unfavorable views of the Taliban as education levels rise; and there is a decreasing percentage of non-responses at higher education levels (suggesting that more educated people have more confidence in their views, stronger views, or less fear). However, the percentage of respondents with favorable views of the Taliban, hovering between 10-20 percent, is not that different across education levels, and does not vary monotonically with education.

Figure 2 shows views on the Pakistani Taliban by income level. While the percentage of non-responses is highest for the lowest income category, the percentages responding favorably and unfavorably do not change monotonically with income. We see broadly similar distributions of attitudes across the four income levels.


My regressions also show that older people have more unfavorable opinions toward the Taliban, relative to younger people; this is concerning and is consistent with the trend toward rising extremist views in Pakistan’s younger population. The problems in Pakistan’s curriculum that began in the 1980s are likely to be at least partly responsible for this trend. Urban respondents seem to have more favorable opinions toward the Taliban than rural respondents; respondents from Punjab and Baluchistan have more favorable opinions toward the Taliban relative to those from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which as a province has had a closer and more direct experience with terror. The regression shows no relationship of income with attitudes, as was suggested by Figure 2.

Overall, the Pew 2013 data show evidence of a positive relationship between more education and lack of support for the Taliban, suggesting that the persisting but increasingly discredited conventional wisdom on these issues may hold some truth after all. These results should be complemented with additional years of data. That is what I will work on next.