WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. military operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden's death in Pakistan made an already unpopular U.S. even less popular with some Pakistanis. Sixty-four percent of Pakistanis who were aware of the U.S. action say it made them have a more negative opinion of the U.S., while 5% say it made them have a more positive opinion.
These results from the May 9-12 survey underscore how difficult the task will be for Pakistan and the U.S. to repair relations after the U.S. raid on bin Laden's compound near Abbottabad. The poll also found the majority of Pakistanis condemn the U.S. action, and most who were aware of the action disapprove that it took place without their government's prior knowledge.
Approval of U.S. Leadership Sinks, Disapproval Soars
Pakistanis' opinions of U.S. leadership have never been favorable in the years Gallup has been polling there. Overall, the 10% of Pakistanis who approved of U.S. leadership last week is down from 18% in 2010, but not meaningfully lower than what Gallup measured in 2008 and 2009. Disapproval, however, soared to a record-high 85%.
Although few Pakistanis overall approve of U.S. leadership, those who were aware of the U.S. action are slightly more likely to approve of U.S. leadership (11%) than those who were not aware (4%). But the results also suggest there is resentment for the U.S. action even among the Pakistanis who approve of U.S. leadership. A majority of these Pakistanis say the U.S. action made them have more negative opinions.
Pakistanis Think U.S. Should Leave Afghanistan, but Expect U.S. to Stay
Many Pakistanis believe the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan now that bin Laden is dead -- possibly reflecting their frustration with drone attacks that did not stop with his demise. Seventy-nine percent of Pakistanis who were aware of the U.S. action say the U.S. should go now, while 14% think the U.S. should stay. Even among Pakistanis who approve of U.S. leadership, a majority say U.S. troops should go.
However, Pakistanis are largely skeptical that the U.S. will leave. Fifty-seven percent who were aware of the U.S. military operation that killed bin Laden say they do not think the U.S. will now withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. Slightly more than one-quarter (26%) say they think the U.S. will leave.
While the U.S. is not offering any apologies for killing bin Laden on Pakistani soil, it did step up efforts this week to smooth relations between the two countries, even as some lawmakers called for U.S. aid to be cut. The deputy director of the CIA and another envoy met with Pakistani intelligence and leadership Thursday, after U.S. Sen. John Kerry's visit there earlier this week.
With Pakistanis' opinions about the U.S. moving from bad to worse after bin Laden's death, it is not clear even whether full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would reverse this decline. For its part, the U.S. does not yet see its mission in the region as complete, and neither do many Americans. Gallup's data reinforce the significant diplomatic challenges that lie ahead for both countries.
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Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted between May 9-12, 2011, with 1,004 adults, aged 15 and older, covering urban and rural areas across all four provinces. Results for those who were are aware of the U.S. operation are based on a sample of 792 adults. Federally administered areas and Azad Jammu Kashmir were excluded from this study. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. 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.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.