Pakistan Opinion Poll

Via Abu Aardvark, I found out about a public opinion poll about US policy, attacks on civilians and al Qaeda in four Muslim countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Morocco. Abu Aardvark focuses on Egypt while I am interested in Pakistan.

Let us look at the full report. But first some information:

The surveys were conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007 using in-home interviews. In Morocco (1,000 interviews), Indonesia (1,141 interviews), and Pakistan (1,243 interviews) national probability samples were conducted covering both urban and rural areas. However, Pakistani findings reported here are based only upon urban respondents (611 interviews); rural respondents were unfamiliar with many of the issues in the survey. In Egypt, the sample (1,000 interviews) was an urban sample drawn probabilistically from seven governorates. Sample sizes of 1,000 – 1,141 have confidence intervals of +/- 3 percentage points; a sample size of 611 has a confidence interval of +/-4 percentage points.

So the Pakistani rural population did not have much to opine on these issues and the survey only reports findings from urban areas.

(Urban) Pakistanis have a 15%/67% favorable/unfavorable view of the current US government which is similar to the other countries (except Egypt which is much more unfavorable). 64% of Pakistanis think that nearly all or most of the world events are controlled by the US. 36% of Pakistanis disagreed (while 33% agreed) with the statement that “there have been times in American history where it has helped to promote the welfare of others.” 73% of Pakistanis think that weakening or dividing the Islamic world is a policy goal of the United States and 64% think that spreading Christianity in the Middle East might be a goal. In comparison, 68% of Pakistanis thought that maintaining control over oil resources is a goal of US policy.

On the primary goal of the War on Terror, 42% of Pakistanis think it is to weaken the Islamic world while 26% think it is to militarily and politically dominate the Middle East. Only 12% think the purpose of the war on terror is to protect the US from terror attacks.

While 71% of Pakistanis agree with the goal of getting the US troops to withdraw from Iraq, Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, they disagree about attacks on US troops with about a third approving and similar numbers disapproving.

81% of Pakistanis believe that politically motivated attacks on civilians are not justified, with 72% considering it against Islam. However, only 30% of Pakistanis think that groups that target civilians, such as al Qaeda, are violating the principles of Islam. At the same time, 62% consider suicide bombings by Muslims to be wrong. About two-thirds oppose attacks on civilians in the US and Europe while a slightly less majority opposes attacks on US civilians working in the Muslim world.

9% of (Urban) Pakistanis support al Qaeda attacks on the US and share al Qaeda’s attitude towards the US while 7% oppose the attacks but share the attitude. 17% oppose the attacks and do not share al Qaeda’s attitude towards the US. The rest declined to take a position (which is unusual compared to the other countries surveyed).

Pakistanis have a more positive (27%) view of Osama Bin Laden than negative (15%) with 24% having mixed feelings. Also, only 2% of Pakistanis consider al Qaeda to be behind the September 11, 2001 attacks while 27% think the US did it and 7% blame Israel (62% refused to answer). This is very different from the other countries.

21% of Pakistanis think a conflict between Western and Muslim cultures is inevitable while 43% think it possible to find common ground.

67% of Pakistanis want to keep Western values out of Islamic countries. On the other hand, 65% of Pakistanis consider globalization to be good while only 14% declare it to be bad and 61% consider democracy to be a good way to govern. 71% want to push the US to remove its military forces and bases from the region; 79% want a strict application of shariah law in every Muslim country; and 74% want to unify all Muslim countries into a single state or caliphate.

While 84% of Pakistanis believe people should be free to worship according to their religion, 60% had no problem with proselytizing. About half the Pakistanis have unfavorable views of the freedom of expression in the United States.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. Results of survey are much influenced by the cross-section of people interviewed. In this case, only people in the large towns and those living in the posh areas, most of whom are pro-America, appear to have been interviewed.
    Time of interview also matters a lot. Till March 9, Pakistanis were cowed down people due to fear of sudden disappearance of civilians which had been the order of the day during past three years and people believe that it was to please America. Decision of the Chief Justice not to bow down to dictates has taken away the fear of people to a considerable extent.
    A survey conducted now may give much more aggressive results against American policy and actions.

  2. Dad: You think this survey result was pro-American?

    Results of survey are much influenced by the cross-section of people interviewed. In this case, only people in the large towns and those living in the posh areas, most of whom are pro-America, appear to have been interviewed.

    How can you say that? It is for this reason that we have random sampling for opinion polls.

  3. What do you think will be the response if Americans are asked similar questions about Muslims?

    Will the majority of people not say that most Muslims are more likely to be violent, bigoted, militant and even terrorists?

    That’s the impression that the US media seems to give.

  4. The survey by no means is in favour of America but I was only talking of validity of surveys in our country.
    Firstly, our people do not take such surveys seriously. Second, the people conducting survey generally go to known clubs and / commercial centres of F-7 or F10 Islamabad where commoners may go only as driver or a maid servants and are not prone to be part of the survey. Similar is the case with Lahore. In Karachi a survey may yield better if it is not conducted in Defence / Clifton and other such areas.

  5. Faraz:

    What do you think will be the response if Americans are asked similar questions about Muslims?

    You don’t have to wonder. Here are some opinion poll reports I found in a few minutes of googling: 1, 2, 3. There are probably more.

  6. Very interesting. So what do you make of this?

    I think US opinion about Islam is unfortunate and their attitude toward Muslims is dangerous, if these polls are anything to go by.

  7. Faraz: I think there are negative feelings on both sides right now. However, from my interactions, it seems that Pakistanis have stronger and more prevalent negative feelings towards the US as compared to Americans’ feelings for/against Muslims.

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