The official use of “Af-Pak” to describe the war in Central Asia acknowledges something Pakistanis have known for a long time, that the war over Afghanistan is increasingly taking place in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and the conflict has done material damage to the nation’s security and economy, leaving it one of the least stable nations on the planet.
Polls suggest this increasing strife is dramatically damaging Pakistanis’ view of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the United States, the primary combatants in the conflict. Today’s Pew Global Attitudes poll shows only 10 percent of the nation have a favorable view of the Taliban, down from 27 percent a year ago. Al-Qaeda was slightly lower with only 9 percent approval.
But the United States fared no better, with only nine percent of Pakistanis polled describing the nation as a “partner” and nearly two-thirds characterizing the US as an “enemy.” The number was in keeping with an earlier Gallup poll, which showed Pakistanis identified the US as the biggest threat to Pakistan going forward.
The Pew poll was conducted in 20 countries and showed Pakistanis had the least favorable view of President Obama, with only 13 percent having confidence in him. One lawyer in Lahore told the Associated Press that Obama “is like an old wine in a new bottle.”
Most of the other nations’ view of the US was considerably improved by Obama’s election. Perhaps as a testament to how unpopular the drone strikes, begun under President Bush but dramatically escalated since Obama’s inauguration, remain in the nation and how much they are serving as a driver of popular opinion away from the US.