The Globe and Mail’s Robert Kennedy posted a piece on a recent poll conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonpartisan and U.S government-funded agency. The poll is from a survey of 4,900 Pakistanis between July 15-August 7, 2009 and is a general gauge of Pakistani public opinion. Unfortunately, the Globe’s analysis is weak and misleading.

The article chooses to focus on the fact that “76 percent of respondents…opposed Pakistan’s helping the United States with its missile attacks against extremists,” and implies from this that Pakistanis overwhelmingly object to fighting the militants. Although Pakistanis remain skeptical of directly aiding the United States, 69 percent support the Pakistani military’s actions against militants in the Malakand division. Moreover, support for Islamist parties and leaders is largely negligible, ranging between 2-4 percent.

Importantly, the poll reveals that Pakistanis are not against battling the militants per se but would rather prefer confronting them on their own and without foreign interference–a sentiment understandable in a nation with a long-standing security dilemma (or delusion). In fact, Pakistan’s spy service, the ISI, notorious for backing the Taliban, has recently pleaded that it is definitively opposed to the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and perceive them as a threat to national security. Also, the Pakistani Army is due to engage in a “mother of all battles” in South Waziristan in the next few days. Signs of a serious commitment to defeat the Taliban? Perhaps.

-Fez

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