Enter the second poll of the week on the subject. According to Pew Research, 69 per cent of Pakistanis "worry that extremists could take control of the country." Not only does this poll seem to contradict the last, but the numbers even within the Pew poll look extraordinarily contradictory. What does this all mean? Here are some of the proffered answers thus far:
- Baitulla Mehsud's Death Helped Last week, Jeremy Page of the London Times predicted a massive boost for U.S.-Pakistan relations coming from the killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. Miglani, the Reuters writer, pointed out that the Gallup Pakistan poll was conducted before Mehsud's reported death.
- Pakistan Sours on Extremism Real Clear World's Greg Scoblete saw the numbers as promising. "Perhaps the most interesting finding," though, was "that only 32% of Pakistanis had even heard of U.S. missile strikes on Pakistan's territory," he said. "Given that figure, it appears that fears that American drone attacks might destabilize Pakistan could be overblown." Especially when considering Miglani's blaming the Gallup poll results on "drone anger," it is an interesting finding indeed.
- Not Exactly Rebecca Bynum of the Iconoclast at New English Review focused instead on the massive support in the Pew numbers for harsh Islamic punishments, including stoning, whipping, and cutting off hands: "One of the ironies in the survey is the extent to which Pakistanis embrace some of the severe laws associated with the Taliban and al Qaeda, even as they reject Islamic extremism and these extremist groups."
- Pakistanis Oppose Taliban, Still Revile US, rang The Associated Press' headline. Yet another way to spin the data.