News

Pakistani Public Opinion Appears to Turn Against Taliban

Taliban militants in Pakistan continue their attacks despite claims by experts and officials that public opinion is turning against the militant organization. At the same time, the ongoing Army offensive against the Taliban in the Swat valley has displaced more than two million people, many who now live in squalid camps. Experts in Washington are urging Pakistan to be proactive in helping the refugees before their frustration turns into anger against the government.

The chilling image was played repeatedly on TV - a man with a long beard flogging a woman.  The two minute video was purportedly shot in Swat valley when the Taliban controlled the territory.  Although its authenticity has been challenged, to the Pakistani public it underscored the group's extreme form of Islam.

In the two months since - there have been a series of bombings. Recently, thousands mourned the death of a prominent critic of the Taliban. The Muslim cleric was killed in a suicide bombing on his mosque.

Many officials and experts see the bombings and the flogging video as a tipping point.  While no scientific polls have been released, there have been repeated examples of public opinion turning against the Taliban.

"You now have clerics standing up and saying this is against the Koran," Harlan Ullman said. Ullman is a South Asia expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington. "I would hope the Pakistani government will be able to say that the Taliban and extremists are not Muslims and they are not Pakistanis.  Delegitimize them.  Get the word out. Now is the time to mobilize the public."

Shuja Nawaz, also of the Atlantic Council, says the challenge to the Taliban should come from across the political spectrum. "...to be able to point out that the Islam they talk about is a convoluted view, it is not the Islam as the people of Pakistan know it or want it to be," Nawaz said.

Others say the Pakistani public appears still deeply conflicted over how its government is dealing with threats from the Taliban.  Since military action began in Swat valley the number displaced by fighting has grown to 2.5 million.  Most live in camps.

Nawaz says the government should seize the moment and quickly provide relief and rebuild Swat communities."If it [the government] is not proactive this sentiment can turn against the government and create a further problem and that is a challenge," Nawaz states.

After the Pakistani earthquake in 2005, U.S. military personnel delivered relief supplies to victims.  

While the United States says it has provided nearly $165 million in assistance to people affected by the fighting, the Pakistani government has limited the reach of U.S. soldiers.

"No U.S. military personnel have been allowed to bring either supplies or surgical hospital or other assets that the U.S. military is well equipped to deliver to the people who need it," Jonah Blank said. Blank is an advisor to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, says Pakistan's approach is wrong.
 
Obama administration officials propose tripling the size of non military assistance for Pakistan.

But Blank says in building a long term relationship, the U.S. should also listen to Pakistan's concerns. "Whether it is about [Iraqi prison] Abu Ghraib, about Gitmo [the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay] or about the predator program [U.S. drone aircraft] or about U.S. policies in other parts of the world, we cannot simply dismiss these concerns as irrelevant to the core discussion," Blank states.

Experts say with the U.S. providing assistance at a time when opinion has turned against the Taliban, America's image among Pakistanis will improve as it did after the timely relief to earthquake victims.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs