A majority of the people in Pakistan are for the first time considering the threat from the Taliban on par with that from India, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center ahead of the May 11 general elections.
The country's public mood is exceedingly grim. Roughly
nine-in-ten Pakistanis believe the country is on the wrong track, and about eight-in-ten say the economy is in poor shape, the survey said.
Concerns about extremist groups have increased markedly, the poll said, adding that more than nine-in-ten Pakistanis describe terrorism as a very big problem, and about half now say the Taliban is a very serious threat to their country.
"For the first time since the Pew Research Center began polling on these issues, the Taliban is essentially considered as big a threat to Pakistan as longtime rival India," the organisation said in a press statement.
America's image remains extremely negative in Pakistan and only 11% give the US a favourable rating, and a similar low number (10%) express confidence in US President Barack Obama. Today, most Pakistanis (64%) see the US as more of an enemy than partner.
Pew said the face-to-face survey was conducted from March 11-31 among 1,201 respondents. The sample covers approximately 82% of the country's adult population.
The survey also finds that incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari receives negative reviews with 83% expressing an unfavourable opinion of him.
In contrast, two-thirds have a positive view of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. Six-in-ten also have a positive opinion about cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
Roughly eight-in-ten (79%) think the Pakistani military, which for decades has been an important player in the country's politics, is having a positive influence on the nation.
Further, Pakistanis are concerned about a variety of national problems - especially crime and terrorism.
About 95% describe crime as a very big problem and 93% say the same about terrorism.
Illegal drugs, political corruption, the situation in Kashmir, pollution, access to clean water and poor quality schools are considered very big problems by at least two-thirds of those polled, the survey said.
Pakistan goes to polls on May 11 in what will be the first democratic transition of power in its history.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.