Islamist Militancy in Pakistan: A View from the Provinces
Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA)
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In Pakistan's struggles with Islamist militant groups--foreign and homegrown--the country's provinces have experienced levels of violence that differ widely by type, severity, and consequences. An analysis of a recent WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of Pakistan reveals that these different provinces vary significantly in their views of militant groups and the recent government's actions to an extent that is relevant for policymakers. Of special interest, support for the Pakistani government's efforts and concern about specific militant groups prove to be strong in some unexpected places. Pakistan is home to numerous ethnic groups, who tend to be clustered in specific provinces, e.g.: Punjabis tends to be clustered in the Punjab, Pashtuns in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the Baluch in Baluchistan and Sindhis in Sindh. Of course, there has been tremendous migration within Pakistan. Karachi, in Sindh, is now to home to more Pashtuns than any other city in Pakistan and ethnic Punjabis are settled throughout Pakistan. Indeed, these internal demographic changes have often been a source of conflict among different ethnic groups. While many U.S. analysts focus upon "Pakistan," and "Pakistani opinions," it is useful to consider sub-national analyses of data. For example, provinces differ by voting patterns, access to education and other public services, representation in government institutions (including the armed forces), and literacy among other factors. These enormous inter-provincial differences tend to be overlooked by policy makers. This paper begins with the opinion survey's timing, its methodology, and a few caveats on its provincial comparisons. It then offers a brief summary of provincial differences in attitudes. It then considers the provincial responses to specific questions on three topics: beliefs about Islamist militants' activities and objectives; views of the Pakistani government and its response to the militants, especially in Swat; and attitudes toward foreign militant groups, the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda.