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Pakistanis dread India more than Taliban: Poll

Washington, July 30
Though terror groups continue to strike in their country, a majority of Pakistanis still consider India as a major threat, view US as an enemy and are far less concerned about Taliban and Al-Qaida.

While Pakistanis express 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-Qaida — slightly more than half of Pakistanis (53 per cent) chose India, compared with 23 per cent for Taliban and just 3 per cent for Al-Qaida,” it said.

However, despite the deep-seated tensions, 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-Qaida 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. He said that the US has worked hard in recent months to try to turn this relationship around. “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. — PTI





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