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Pakistani Perspectives on Sacrificing One’s Life

by Nicole Naurath

Two-thirds in NWFP feel it is completely justifiable to sacrifice one’s life

Washington, D.C. -- Benazir Bhutto returned to her homeland to restore democracy and Pakistan's image, which according to her is now seen as a sanctuary for terrorists. Aware of the danger that she faced coming back to Pakistan, Bhutto linked threats on her life to the rise of activities that have "thrived under dictatorships." On December 27, Bhutto and approximately 20 bystanders were killed in a rally in Rawalpindi. Some analysts believe that the group behind Bhutto's assassination is from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), though this theory is rejected by Bhutto's own people.

The Gallup World Poll asked Pakistanis in 2007 several questions pertaining to acts that people may carry out in their lives and if these acts are morally justifiable. When asked to rate, on a 5-point scale, if sacrificing your life for what you believe in is justifiable, residents of NWFP (67%) are more likely than Pakistanis as a whole (44%) to say that sacrificing one's life is a completely justifiable act. Residents of Punjab (42%) are more in line with the country average, while residents of Sindh (32%) are least likely to agree with this sentiment.

The current government has attempted to curb violent actions, but more progress is needed before the region stabilizes. Encouragingly, 46% of Pakistanis agree that it is at least somewhat unjustifiable for people to not live in harmony with those whose views they do not agree with. Roughly the same percentage of people from NWFP agree, though they are slightly less likely to feel this act cannot be justified at all.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adults in Pakistan, aged 15 and older, conducted May 24-June 29, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2.8 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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