December 2, 2013

Middle class Pakistanis, not the poor, becoming supporters of militants: Survey

The poor people in Pakistan are substantially more negative towards militant groups like Taliban and al-Qaida than the middle class. Therefore, development aid is not going to be effective in changing their mind-set, a survey has found.
Washington: Pakistanis belonging to the middle class have stronger support for militant groups than the ones belonging to the lower strata. A survey found that the poor in Pakistan are substantially more negative toward militant groups than their middle class countrymen. By one measure, poor Pakistanis were up to 23 times more negative about militants than their middle-class counterparts, it said. The nationally representative survey of 6,000 Pakistani adults also found that Pakistanis in general held militant groups in low regard. "Giving development aid may be effective in improving people's livelihoods and making them better off in monetary ways, but it is not going to be effective in changing their minds because the poor in Pakistan are not the people whose minds we need to change. They already really dislike the militant groups," said Blair, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Politics. The survey by Princeton University used a novel technique to measure support for four militant groups: Kashmiri tanzeems (or organizations), the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaida and sectarian tanzeems. Participants were visited, normally at their homes, by survey teams. In keeping with the cultural norms of the area, participants were surveyed by a member of their own gender. Participants weren't asked directly about support for the groups - which could have been dangerous for those conducting the survey and could have skewed results. The results of the 2009 survey are part of a growing body of research that calls into question a direct link between economics and violence, it said. The survey in Pakistan and related data collection on violence was supported by the International Growth Center, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Department of Homeland Security through the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events.

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