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Indians' dislike of Pakistan growing, says Pew survey

More than seven out of 10 (71%) Indians view Pakistan “unfavourably”, according to the survey by Pew Research Center conducted last spring.

world Updated: Dec 08, 2017 22:12 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
India-Pakistan relations,Prime Minister Narendra Modi,Pew survey
File photo of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his former Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif (standing) at the opening session of the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Kathmandu on November 26, 2014. (Reuters)

Indians don’t feel much love for Pakistan, not after three-and-half wars and a steady flow of cross-border terrorism, and a new survey shows they have soured on their western neighbour considerably in recent years, with almost two-thirds (64%) of them holding a “very unfavourable” view of Pakistan.

Overall, more than seven out of 10 (71%) Indians view Pakistan “unfavourably”, according to a survey by Pew Research Center conducted last spring, which was much higher than 54% “unfavourable” in 2013, when the agency started tracking the trend.

The dislike for Pakistan cuts across party lines, the survey found — 70% and 63% of supporters of the BJP and the Congress said they held a “very unfavourable” view of Pakistan, which pointed to a national consensus on taking a hard line on ties with the western neighbour.

Yet, Indians were not happy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of relations with Pakistan, taking a line which has been anything but hard, despite his invitation to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing-in in 2014, and a surprise visit to Lahore in 2015.

Only 21% of Indians approved of Modi’s handling of Pakistan, the survey found, which has been consistent since 2015, when the research body first asked that question — that was the year of Modi’s visit to Pakistan to meet Sharif, just weeks after they had met in Paris on the sidelines of climate talks.

But Modi’s handling of Kashmir found the approval of a clear majority of 60%; though younger Indians in the 18-29 age group were more supportive than those aged 50 and above, by 64% to 51%. Respondents in northern India were harsher than the rest on Modi’s handling of Kashmir.

The survey found a similar regional divide in views on Pakistan. More Indians in states closer to the western border — Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — viewed Pakistan “very unfavourably” than those further away, by 69% to 61%, which was not very much.

It wasn’t clear if the survey covered respondents in Kashmir.

Most Indians surveyed also said Kashmir was a “big problem” but that number was down from 68% in 2015 to 62%, and most of them, once again, said the Indian government must use military force to deal with the situation — 63% supported more force to 8% who said they favoured less.

First Published: Dec 08, 2017 21:45 IST