25. January 2006 · Comments Off on Pakistani Poll: US Up, Al-Qaeda Down · Categories: GWOT

Some good news from the Miami Herald:

Pakistanis who have a favorable opinion of the United States doubled to more than 46 percent today from 23 percent in May 2005. According to a poll conducted by the nonpartisan organization Terror Free Tomorrow with fieldwork by ACNielsen Pakistan, for the first time since 9/11 more Pakistanis are favorable to the United States than unfavorable.

Yet the recent poll from Pakistan has an even more important finding for the war on terror: Muslim opinion toward bin Laden, and indeed terrorism, moves in tandem with opinion of the United States. As Pakistan witnessed a surge of pro-American sentiment, more unexpectedly there was a concomitant and dramatic drop in support for bin Laden and terrorism. Tellingly, Pakistanis who disapproved of bin Laden doubled at almost the exact same percentage as those who became favorable to the United States (23 percent to 41 percent disapproval of bin Laden; 23 percent to 46 percent approval of the United States).

But the most interesting and important finding is why the Pakistani public changed its view of terrorism and the United States — and why some antipathy still remains.

The reason is clear: American assistance to the victims of the devastating Oct. 8, 2005, earthquake in Pakistan. In fact, 78 percent of Pakistanis said that American aid to earthquake victims has made them feel more favorable to the United States. Even 79 percent of Pakistanis who have confidence in bin Laden now have a more-favorable opinion of the United States because of U.S. earthquake assistance.

Another surprise: The United States fared much better in the opinion of Pakistanis than either other Western countries who furnished substantial relief, or al Qaeda’s radical Islamist allies themselves, who also made a much-publicized effort to provide earthquake aid.

More evidence that we are winning the war for hearts and minds.

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