Majority of Pakistanis says U.S. is greatest threat

A poll released Sunday revealed that despite the massive amounts of aid directed toward Pakistan in this administration, Pakistanis peg the U.S. as a far greater threat than the Taliban and even archenemy India.

The poll of more than 2,500 Pakistanis, conducted across rural and urban areas at the end of July by Gallup Pakistan for Al-Jazeera, found that 41 percent favored their government's military operation against the Taliban, while 22 percent claimed neutrality and 24 percent opposed.

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But only 9 percent approved of U.S. strikes by unmanned drones against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets. National Security Adviser James Jones said Sunday that the U.S. is 90 percent confident that Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of Pakistan's Taliban, was killed when a drone fired at the house of Mehsud's father-in-law on Wednesday.

"Mehsud was a very bad individual, a real thug," Jones said.

Pakistanis, though, fingered the U.S. as the enemy in the poll.

A whopping 59 percent -- a figure that cut fairly evenly across party lines, gender, language and age -- said that the U.S. is the greatest threat to Pakistan. Only 11 percent named the Taliban, and 18 percent said India was the greatest threat. Twelve percent responded "don't know."
 
At the end of June, the Senate unanimously passed the Kerry-Lugar aid bill, which triples aid to Pakistan, totaling $7.5 billion over five years and advocating an additional $7.5 billion over the subsequent five years.

The bill also detaches military aid from civilian aid in an attempt to give greater attention to development aid, and ties military aid to concerted efforts by security forces to battle the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"Pakistan is facing a critical moment, and today the Senate has made a clear bipartisan commitment to replace an atmosphere of mutual distrust and lack of accountability with a broad-based, durable commitment to Pakistan and its people," Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said at the time. "It can empower the Pakistani people charting a path of moderation and stability."

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