Monday, October 5, 2009

IRI Pakistan Survey - Mixed Bag

The data tells a story of Pakistanis that fear their country is going in the wrong direction, but largely for economic reasons. Their perception of religious extremism, the Taliban and Al Qaeda as problems have grown. Support for military operations against the Taliban have grown, but those operations have to be Pakistani operations. They continue to oppose cooperation with the U.S. (Obama provided a slight bump which has since disappeared), and any U.S. operations in Pakistan. A substantial minority still like Osama Bin Ladin (9%).

Those who feel we're in Afghanistan in order to prevent Pakistan from degenerating into chaos should be paying attention to these numbers. They're an important component of an evaluation of how necessary our presence in Afghanistan is to prevent insurgents based there from undermining stability in Pakistan, along with military and economic factors.

Of course the fact remains, there isn't much we can do to effect Pakistan directly. But just because your neighbor's garden hose isn't long enough to reach your burning house, doesn't mean you should start spraying his house down for lack of anything else to do.

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