Pakistanis See US As Greatest Threat (By Jim Lobe in IPS/ICH)

Amid reports that the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is considering aggressive covert actions against armed Islamist forces in western Pakistan, a new survey released here Monday suggested that such an effort would be opposed by an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis themselves.

The survey, which was funded by the quasi-governmental U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and designed by the University of Maryland’s Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), also found that a strong majority of Pakistanis consider the U.S. military presence in Asia and neighbouring Afghanistan a much more critical threat to their country than al Qaeda or Pakistan’s own Taliban movement in the tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.

Only five percent of respondents said the Pakistani government should permit U.S. or other foreign troops to enter Pakistan to pursue or capture al Qaeda fighters, compared to a whopping 80 percent who said such actions should not be permitted, according to the poll, which was based on in-depth interviews of more than 900 Pakistanis in 19 cities in mid-September…

Distrust of the U.S., however, did not translate into support for radical Islamists, the Taliban, or al Qaeda, according to the survey. While they were considered much less of a threat than the U.S., six out of 10 respondents said they considered the Taliban and al Qaeda either a “critical” or an “important” threat” to Pakistan.

And even as huge majorities opposed any U.S. or foreign military intervention against the two groups in Pakistan, pluralities approaching 50 percent said they would support the Pakistani army entering the FATA to capture al Qaeda fighters or Taliban insurgents who have crossed over from Afghanistan…

Pakistanis See US As Greatest Threat (By Jim Lobe in IPS/ICH)

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan warned in an interview published Friday that any unilateral attacks by the United States against Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in his country’s tribal areas would be treated as an invasion. But Mr. Musharraf also left open the possibility of American and Pakistani forces working together in broader combined operations to kill or capture senior Qaeda leaders believed to be hiding in the rugged border area near Afghanistan…

Pakistan Warns U.S. on Attacking Al Qaeda on Its Own (By ERIC SCHMITT in New York Times)



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