It seems that the hotbed of news items and endless supply of blood splattered images of innocent minority victims are coming from mostly Pakistan these days. Often times, a question is raised as to what is the sentiment of the people of Pakistan regarding this image, extremism, and human rights violation.
So, here are some facts based on Pew research, published in July of 2012. The research was done in six countries with large Muslim population including Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
On the question of the Holy book of Islam, the Holy Quran, Pakistan tops the list in firmly believing that the Quranic Laws should be strictly applied in the land. In the case of a conflict between Law of the land, and law of the Holy book, people of Pakistan want the latter. It should be pointed out, nowhere in the Holy Quran, does God impose Quranic law as a mandate over existing laws of the land.
On the question of how much of politics is influenced by religion, research shows 87% of people admit that their political system is affected by religion. Overwhelming majority of people believe that this influence of religion has played very favorably for Pakistan to date.
Surprisingly, only 42% of the respondents preferred democracy which was the lowest compared to all other five nations surveyed. People favored better economic condition than democracy.
On the issue of Islamic Extremism, only 58% of the people are concerned. If you look at the trend of this metric from 2006, the number has steadily declined from 76% concerned down to 58% in 2012. Yet, the violence and attacks on minorities have steadily increased during that interval. This implies, the percentage of people feeling indifferent or in agreement with extremism, is steadily increasing.
On the question about whether Islam plays a positive or negative role, the numbers generally tend to agree from most of the countries. 79% of respondents believe that Islam in Pakistan plays a positive role in a significant way in the world stage.
On the issue of Middle East peace and politics, a large portion of the respondents did not have an opinion or fell into don’t-know category however, favorable views of known extreme organizations was less than 15%.
Since 2009, the public opinion for fighting extremism and helping the U.S in that effort, has declined.
50% of the respondents still want US financial aid, but less willing to provide Pakistan military support in global war on terrorism. Concerns about extremism have declined since 2009, when the Pakistan military was battling Taliban-affiliated groups in the Swat Valley. Then, fully 69% were concerned that extremists might take control of Pakistan, compared with 52% today.
With specific questions regarding sympathy for known radical groups, there were double digit favorable views in all categories. The Taleban and the Al-Qaida were definitely out of favor. There is a large percentage of the sample group who chose don’t-know as the category. For the other militant groups like the LET, favorability numbers are higher than Al-Qaida or the Talibans.