As many as 42 percent Pakistanis, nearly every other citizen of the country, hold India responsible for the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, according to a new opinion poll.
"When asked if they believed it to be true that the attacks were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), only seven percent replied yes, another seven percent replied maybe, and 78 percent said no. In response to an open-ended question as to who they thought was responsible for the attacks, the top three replies were India (42 percent), I don't know (33 percent), and America (20 percent)," the International Republican Institute (IRI) said in a release.
The Washington-based IRI, which describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organisation, conducted the poll March 7-30 and released the findings in Islamabad on Monday.
The randomly selected sample consists of 3,500 adult men and women from 216 rural and 134 urban locations in 51 districts in all four provinces of Pakistan, it said.
Asked what if it was proven that the LeT was behind the Mumbai mayhem, five percent said that those responsible should be turned over to India, while 82 percent said that they should be tried and punished in Pakistan. Seven percent preferred not to reply.
Pakistanis are opposed, however, to LeT, Al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits using their country as a base to launch attacks against India, with 79 percent saying that it would be a serious problem and 17 percent saying that it would not be, according to the poll findings.
As many as 43 percent respondents had a favourable opinion of LeT and 46 percent said they had an "unfavorable opinion" of it.
"These numbers were in the same range of those regarding the image of India, with 45 percent having a favorable opinion of the country and 52 percent having an unfavorable perception," the IRI said.
The survey found that though only 10 percent of respondents cited terrorism as the most important issue - a majority said economy was the most important issue - there is rising concern over extremism in general.
Asked if they felt religious extremism was a serious problem in Pakistan, 74 percent replied yes - the highest percentage since September 2007.
As many as 69 percent agreed that the Taliban and Al Qaeda operating in Pakistan was a serious problem, while 45 percent said that they supported the Pakistani Army fighting the extremists in the North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, another all-time high, according to the IRI.
Asked if they felt that the country was headed in the right or wrong direction, 81 percent responded wrong direction while 18 percent said right direction - a slight improvement from the October 2008 poll.