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Pakistanis wary of US presence: poll

October 05, 2008


WASHINGTON, Oct 4: Pakistanis were leery of their government’s anti-terror cooperation with the United States even before President George W. Bush authorised US military action inside Pakistan without their government’s approval, according to a poll on Friday.

The poll by the Gallup organisation, taken in June, found that almost half the Pakistanis, or 45 per cent, thought the US military presence across the border in Afghanistan posed a threat to Pakistan. Only 17 per cent said it was not a threat and more than one-third, 38 per cent of respondents, had no opinion or would not answer.

President Bush’s July approval of US incursions across the Pakistan-Afghan border came to light after reports appeared about the US operations, mainly comprising drone missile strikes at suspected Taliban or Al Qaeda sites on Pakistani territory.

American and Pakistani forces exchanged gunfire last Saturday for the first time. After the first known ground assault which occurred on Sept 3 became public, Pakistanis reacted with outrage. President Asif Ali Zardari warned that Pakistan’s territory cannot “be violated by our friends.”

According to the poll, one in three of the respondents says the US relationship with Pakistan in Washington’s campaign against terrorism mostly benefits the United States. Only 7 per cent — fewer than one in 10 — said Pakistan benefited more.

More than that, 10 per cent said both sides get nothing from the partnership.

The findings were based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 802 people 15 years old and older.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir were not included in the poll. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.—AP