Most Pakistanis fear extremism, dislike Taliban: survey

Published July 2, 2014
Almost 60pc of the population in Pakistan sees the Taliban unfavourably, shows survey — AP file photo
Almost 60pc of the population in Pakistan sees the Taliban unfavourably, shows survey — AP file photo

WASHINGTON: In Pakistan 66 per cent people see religious extremism as a serious threat to their country, says a new survey released by a US think-tank.

The survey, by the Pew Research Centre, Washington, shows that bouts of violence, suicide bombings and

 PEW Research Centre
PEW Research Centre
fears of civil war in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa have increased concerns about religious extremism in countries with substantial Muslim populations.

The survey, conducted in spring 2014, shows that there are still 24pc people in Pakistan who do not see extremism as a serious threat. But when it comes to the Taliban, most among these 24pc also want to stay away from them.

Almost 60pc of the population in Pakistan sees the Taliban unfavourably. Only 8pc have a favourable view of this extremist organisation.

Given the violent nature of this group, which practices targeted killings for assassinating its opponents, a third of Pakistanis are reluctant to offer an opinion.

Views of the Taliban have not changed substantially in recent years.

Opinions towards specific branches of the Taliban, such as Tehreek-i-Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, are also negative.

Know more: Alliance against Taliban formed

In a spring 2013 survey, both those groups received low ratings in Pakistan — 56pc unfavourable and 47pc unfavourable, respectively.

And in the Middle East, concern about extremism is growing. Lebanese, Tunisians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Turks are all more worried about the extremist threat than they were a year ago.

Hezbollah, the militant organisation headquartered in Lebanon, is seen unfavourably in every country surveyed. In Pakistan, 8pc like it, 12pc dislike it and 81pc have no opinion.

Overall, most people surveyed also have an unfavourable impression of Hamas, a militant Palestinian organisation based in the Gaza Strip. In Pakistan, 8pc like it, 12pc dislike it and 79pc offer no opinion.

 PEW Research Centre
PEW Research Centre

In Lebanon, 88pc of Sunnis and 69pc of Lebanese Christians dislike Hezbollah. However, 86pc of Lebanese Shias have a favourable view.

More than half in the Palestinian territories — 53pc — have an unfavourable view of Hamas, with only about a third — 35pc — expressing positive views.

Most people hold very negative opinions of well-known extremist groups, such as Al Qaeda.

In Nigeria, the vast majority of respondents, both Muslims and Christians, have an unfavourable view of Boko Haram, the terrorist group that recently kidnapped hundreds of girls in the restive north of the country.

Few Muslims in most of the countries surveyed say that suicide bombing can often or sometimes be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam from its enemies. And support for the tactic has fallen in many countries over the last decade.

Still, in some countries a substantial minority says that suicide bombing can be justified.

Asked if suicide bombing can be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam against its enemies, 83pc in Pakistan replied: “Never”. Four pc said: “Rarely”. Two per cent said: “Sometimes”. And 1pc said: “Often”. Eleven per cent offered no opinion.

 PEW Research Centre
PEW Research Centre

Still, significant minorities of Muslims in a few countries do hold the view that it can be justified.

In the Middle East, support for suicide bombing is highest in the Palestinian territories, where 46pc of Muslims say that it is often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam. Support is particularly high among Muslims in Gaza (62pc) versus those in the West Bank (36pc).

In Lebanon, 29pc of Muslims say targeting civilians is justified. This includes 37pc of Shias but only 21pc among Sunnis.

Meanwhile, a quarter or less of Muslims in Egypt (24pc), Turkey (18pc), Israel (16pc) and Jordan (15pc) say suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified. Among Tunisian Muslims, only 5pc say this.

Nearly half of Bangladeshi Muslims (47pc) believe suicide bombing can be justified.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2014



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