The Pulse

In Pakistan, US & India More Popular Than Extremist Groups

Pakistanis have a more favorable view of India and the U.S. than of either the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

Zachary Keck
In Pakistan, US & India More Popular Than Extremist Groups
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

India and the United States are both more popular than extremist groups in Pakistan, according to a new poll.

As previously covered on The Pulse, this week the Pew Research Center released the results of a public opinion poll taken of Pakistanis in April and May of this year. One of the more intriguing results found in the survey was that the United States and India, while wildly unpopular in Pakistan, earned higher favorability ratings than either al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

According to Pew, 14 percent of respondents expressed a favorable view of the United States. Although low, this marks a 3 percent increase from 2013, when only 11 percent of Pakistanis held a favorable view of the U.S. More strikingly, Pakistanis expressing an unfavorable view of the United States has declined sharply in recent years, from a high of 80 percent in 2012 to 59 percent this year (72 percent in 2013). While only speculation, its possible that the slight uptick in America’s popularity in Pakistan is due to the decreased frequency with which it has carried out drone strikes in recent years.

Not surprisingly, India too remains unpopular in Pakistan, with 71 percent of respondents expressing an unfavorable view of it compared with 13 percent holding a positive view While extremely low, this 13 percent rating still ranks India higher than either al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The survey found that just 12 percent of Pakistanis view al-Qaeda favorably while only 8 percent say the same thing about the Taliban.

Still, in other ways, India still remains more unpopular than al-Qaeda or the Taliban among the Pakistani public. For instance, only 42 percent of Pakistanis expressed an unfavorable view of al-Qaeda while 59 percent said the same of the Taliban. Not only is that less than the 71 percent of Pakistanis that view India unfavorably, but it is also a decline from those who viewed both extremist groups unfavorably in recent years. Thus, the extremist groups in Pakistan are growing less unpopular than they were.

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Similarly, Pakistanis continue to view India as a greater threat to their nation than either the Taliban or al-Qaeda. When asked which of the three groups posed the greatest threat to Pakistan, a slight majority (51 percent) said that India did, compared with 25 percent who answered with the Taliban and 2 percent who said al-Qaeda.

The survey results are based on 1,203 face-to-face interviews conducted between April 15 and May 7 of this year. In other words, the poll was conducted before India’s new Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, was elected to office.