A majority of urban Pakistanis believe that the person killed by US special forces during a raid in the garrison city of Abbottabad on Monday was not Osama bin Laden , according to a survey.
The online survey, conducted by global opinion pollster YouGov and Polis at Cambridge University, revealed that a staggering 66 per cent of Pakistanis think the person killed by US Navy SEALs in a compound about 80 km from Islamabad was not bin Laden. YouGov said the survey focussed on more educated respondents in the cities of Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.
“The fact that this survey excluded rural and less educated demographic groups actually makes the results more striking,” the organisers of the poll said.
The survey further revealed that 48 per cent of Pakistanis think bin Laden was not a true Muslim leader, 35 per cent believe he was a mass murderer compared with 42 per cent who disagreed, and 35 per cent believe he had declared war on Pakistan compared with 45 per cent who disagreed.
About half the respondents said they did not believe there were ties between the Inter-Services Intelligence agency and al Qaeda.
The poll further showed that 75 per cent of respondents disapproved of the US raid against bin Laden on Pakistani soil, less than 25 per cent believe bin Laden had authorised the 9/11 terror attacks in the US and 74 per cent believe the US government considers that it is at war with the Muslim world and did not respect Islam.
Sixty-one per cent of respondents either have sympathy for the Taliban or believe they represent views that should be respected, compared with only 21 per cent who flatly oppose them. However, a majority contended that the Pakistan government should use every means at its disposal to push the Taliban out of the country and keep them out.
“Put another way, Pakistanis broadly sympathise with the Taliban’s right to exist and have political influence. But similar numbers also want them out of Pakistan,” YouGov said.
A majority of respondents also challenged Western depictions of a weakened al Qaeda, with 86 per cent saying they expect violence by extremist groups to remain constant or increase in Pakistan following recent events in Abbottabad, while 82 per cent predicted similar outcomes for Afghanistan.
Over 50 per cent thought celebrations in the US following the announcement of the death of bin Laden would incite further violence against the US. A majority also supported the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, with 81 per cent voting in favour of it.
The survey was conducted online during May 4-5 with a sample size of 1,039 Pakistani residents.