Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 19, 2005

Winning hearts and minds in Pakistan

Filed under: International HLS,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on December 19, 2005

A new poll released today by a group called Terror Free Tomorrow shows the striking changes in public opinion toward the United States since the earthquake in Pakistan:

In the first poll in Pakistan since the earthquake of October 8, 2005, Pakistanis now hold a more favorable opinion of the United States than at any time since 9/11, while support for Al Qaeda in its home base has dropped to its lowest level since then. The direct cause for this dramatic shift in Muslim opinion is clear: American humanitarian assistance for Pakistani earthquake victims.

Key Findings of the Poll:

– 73% of Pakistanis surveyed in November 2005 now believe suicide terrorist attacks are never justified, up from 46% just last May.
– Support for Osama Bin Laden has declined significantly (51% favorable in May 2005 to just 33% in November), while those who oppose him rose over the same period from 23% to 41%.
– For the first time since 9/11, more Pakistanis are now favorable to the United States than unfavorable.
– 78% of Pakistanis have a more favorable opinion of the United States because of the American response to the earthquake, with the strongest support among those under 35.
– 81% said that earthquake relief was important for them in forming their overall opinion of the United States.

These poll results are stunning, and have the effect of making bin Laden and al-Zawahiri’s probable safe haven in Pakistan at least somewhat less safe. The $510 million of official aid that the United States has sent to Pakistan for earthquake relief since October is probably, dollar-for-dollar, the best investment we’ve made in homeland security since reinforcing airplane cockpit doors.

The link to the full poll is here.

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1 Comment »

12

Comment by Kashif

December 20, 2005 @ 12:56 am

That’s a great opportunity for the US to win hearts and minds of muslims and Pakistanis, and they have done have succeeded a bit into it.

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