A Pew Research Center (based in Washington) survey reveals rising concern among Pakistanis about a threat to their country from India.
A survey of 1,203 Pakistani adults between April 15 and May 7, showed 51 per cent believed India was the biggest threat to their country, up from 38 per cent in 2013.
A threat perception from the Taliban and Al Qaida in Pakistan seem to have come down. One in four named the Taliban, as against one in three in 2013. Only two per cent (four per cent in 2013) regarded Al Qaida as a threat to the nation’s security.
The perceived threat posed by India differs by region, the survey says. As many as 84 per cent of those in the Punjab and 80 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (till 2010, it was known as North-West Frontier Province) think India presents a serious threat to Pakistan. While, 55 per cent of those in Sindh and 35 per cent in Baluchistan believe India is a serious concern.
In all, 71 per cent of Pakistanis surveyed expressed an unfavourable view of India. Only 13 per cent gave it a positive rating.
The change in public perception can be gauged by the fact that in the 2013 survey, people’s concerns were more evenly divided between India (38 per cent) and the Taliban (33 per cent). One in ten believe the government in Islamabad is losing the fight against extremism, while 38 per cent express no opinion.
Interestingly, Pakistan’s military establishment, always a key player in the country’s politics, continues to get a positively high rating from people. In a question on the influence of different institutions and individuals on the nation, 87 per cent gave a thumbs–up to the role of military, an eight percentage point increase from 2013.
Despite resistance from opposition parties, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has maintained his popularity through his first year in office. As many as 64 per cent said they had a favourable opinion of the prime minister. Opposition leader Imran Khan’s support from people has seen a marked decline since 2012, dropping 17 per cent in two years, from a high of 70 per cent. In the latest survey, the ex-cricketer receives favourable reviews from around 53 per cent, while 22 per cent offer no opinion on him, up from 11 per cent in 2012.
On the whole, while most Pakistanis remain unhappy with the country’s direction, the public mood is more positive than it has been in recent years. The percentage saying the economy is in good shape has more than doubled since last year, rising from 17 per cent to 37 per cent. And, 36 per cent expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months.
Rising prices, electricity shortages, lack of jobs, crime, a rich-poor gap, health care and corrupt political leaders top the list of problems facing the nation, said people in the survey.