June 21, 2011

U.S. Image in Pakistan Falls No Further Following bin Laden Killing

Chapter 1. Views of National Conditions

Pakistanis remain deeply dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country. More than eight-in-ten say the nation’s economy is in bad shape, and most are pessimistic about Pakistan’s short-term economic future.

Concerns about rising prices and the lack of jobs are widespread, and about nine-in-ten also rate crime and terrorism as very big problems. At least seven-in-ten describe political corruption, the situation in Kashmir and illegal drugs as major challenges for Pakistan, and smaller majorities offer similar views about pollution, access to clean drinking water, the situation in Afghanistan and emigration.

Widespread Dissatisfaction

Nearly nine-in-ten (92%) Pakistanis are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country, virtually unchanged over the past two years. Compared with surveys conducted mid-decade, however, views of national conditions have shifted drastically; nearly six-in-ten (57%) Pakistanis were satisfied with national conditions in 2005, while 39% were dissatisfied.

Similarly, ratings of national economic conditions have plummeted in recent years. Currently, 85% say the economic situation is bad, including nearly two-thirds (65%) who say it is very bad. As recently as 2007, about six-in-ten (59%) Pakistanis said their national economy was in good shape and just 32% said it was in bad shape.

When asked whether they expect the economy to improve, worsen or remain the same in the next 12 months, most Pakistanis are pessimistic; 60% expect economic conditions to worsen, while 13% say the economy will improve and 15% expect it to remain the same.

Those who identify with the ruling PPP are more optimistic than those affiliated with the PML-N about the country’s short-term economic future, although supporters of both parties offer negative assessments. About one-in-five (22%) PPP supporters expect the economy to improve, while about half (49%) say it will worsen and 15% say it will remain the same; among PML-N supporters, just 13% expect economic conditions to get better over the next year, while 67% say the economy will worsen and 15% expect the economy to remain the same.

Crime, Terrorism and the Economy Top Concerns

Nearly all Pakistanis (97%) rate rising prices as a very big problem in their country, and 89% express similar concern about the lack of jobs. About nine-in-ten also consider crime (91%) and terrorism (88%) to be major problems.

Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) regard corrupt political leaders as a very big problem. Concerns about corruption have increased considerably since earlier in the decade. In 2002, about six-in-ten (58%) said this was a major problem; by 2010, about three-quarters (74%) expressed a similar opinion.

At least seven-in-ten Pakistanis also see the situation in Kashmir (73%) and illegal drugs (70%) as very big problems (for more on Kashmir, see chapter 6). Nearly two-thirds (65%) see pollution as a very big problem and 63% hold similar views about access to clean drinking water (63%).

The situation in Afghanistan and emigration are increasingly mentioned as major concerns. About six-in-ten see each as a very big problem for Pakistan (60% and 59%, respectively). In 2010, about half expressed similar opinions about the situation in Afghanistan (51%) and people leaving the country for jobs (47%).