By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: A new Gallup poll in Pakistan has shown that the government enjoys domestic support for a crackdown on home-based extremists, with 60 percent of Pakistanis interviewed in October saying the government should take a tougher approach to rid the country of terrorist activities.
Gallup’s survey shows substantial support across Pakistan for a tougher stance against terrorist activities, most visibly in Punjab. In the NWFP and Balochistan, where Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militants have been increasingly active, nearly half of residents think the government should take a tougher stance on ridding Pakistan of terrorist activities. Many view increasing terror-related violence in Pakistan this year as a test of the new government’s resolve to eliminate the ‘epidemic’ of terrorism at all costs. Continued bloodshed may also be testing the patience of everyday Pakistanis, nearly half of whom do not think their government is doing enough to fight terrorism, the poll showed. Only 30 percent think the government is doing enough in this regard.
Gallup said, “Rising violence and the government’s perceived ineffectiveness to quell it may be the impetus behind the erosion in Pakistanis’ general feelings of personal security. The percentage of Pakistanis saying they feel safe walking alone at night in the areas where they live has dropped measurably within the past year, from 50 percent in June 2007 to 41 percent in October 2008. Pakistanis’ confidence in their local police has also dropped precipitously. Now at 31 percent, Pakistanis’ confidence in their police has dropped 11 percentage points from 42 percent in 2007 and is the lowest Gallup has measured to date … This internal mandate to fight terrorism, rather than external pressure, may do more to secure the buy-in of the Pakistani people and enable the new civilian government to make good on its promises to eradicate terrorists inside Pakistan.” (Daily Times)