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Americans See Pakistan as Greater Nuclear Threat Than India

Believe India to be a more friendly nation to the U.S. than Pakistan is

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- President Clinton is traveling throughout Southern Asia this week in an attempt to ease tensions between India and Pakistan. The two countries have long-standing hostilities -- dating back to the 1940s -- primarily over control of Kashmir, a northern territory in the Himalayan Mountains. Both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998, raising the stakes of the conflict considerably. This marked the first time that two actively warring nations possessed nuclear capabilities, and the conflict shows no signs of letting up. According to a new Gallup poll, Americans are worried about the potential nuclear threat posed by both countries, but in general have more concerns about Pakistan than about India.

The new poll, conducted March 17-19, shows that a majority of Americans believe that both India's and Pakistan's nuclear weapons capabilities pose a serious threat to world peace. However, Americans believe the threat is greater from Pakistan than from India. Nearly three out of four Americans (72%) say that Pakistan's nuclear capacities represent a worldwide threat while 54% say the same in reference to India.

Americans are not as inclined to think these countries pose serious threats to the United States itself as they do to the world. The poll shows that Pakistan is seen as a nuclear threat to the United States by 65% of Americans, compared to 39% who feel that way about India. On the other hand, a majority of Americans (55%) think India's possessing nuclear weapons is not a serious threat to the U.S.

Ally or Enemy?
Americans' views about the threat India and Pakistan represent are probably influenced by the public's perceptions about each nation. Because India is a democracy, Americans may view it more favorably than they view Pakistan, which is currently ruled by a military government. The poll data bear this out -- 47% of Americans hold a favorable opinion of India but 38% have an unfavorable opinion of the nation (15% have no opinion). On the other hand, only 21% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Pakistan, compared with 59% who have an unfavorable view of that country (20% have no opinion).

The Gallup poll also included questions that asked Americans how they view the United States' relationships with each nation. When Americans are asked if Pakistan is an ally, friendly, unfriendly or an enemy of the U.S., the balance of opinion is negative. Only 17% see Pakistan as an ally or friend (2% and 15%, respectively), while 42% see it as unfriendly or an enemy (27% and 15%). By contrast, 49% of Americans consider India an ally or friendly (14% and 35%, respectively) compared to just 14% who view it as unfriendly or an enemy (12% and 2%). It is important to point out, too, that substantial numbers of Americans admit they do not know enough to make a judgment as to the relationship of either country with the U.S. (37% for India and 41% for Pakistan).

Survey Methods
The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,050 adults, 18 years and older, conducted March 17-19, 2000. Each item reported here was asked of approximately half the sample. For results based on these half samples, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 4 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.

Now I am going to read you a list of countries, some of which have -- and some of which do not have -- nuclear weapons. As I read each one, please tell me whether you think possession of nuclear weapons by that country would pose a serious threat to world peace, or not. [ROTATED]

BASED ON -- 519 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; +/- 4 PCT PTS

  Yes, serious threat No, not serious threat No opinion
India
2000 Mar 17-19 54% 38 8
Pakistan
2000 Mar 17-19 72% 20 8

Now I am going to read you a list of countries, some of which have -- and some of which do not have -- nuclear weapons. As I read each one, please tell me whether you think possession of nuclear weapons by that country would pose a serious threat to the United States, or not. [ROTATED]

BASED ON -- 505 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; +/- 4 PCT PTS

  Yes, serious threat No, not serious threat No opinion
India
2000 Mar 17-19 39% 55 6
Pakistan
2000 Mar 17-19 65% 29 6

For each of the following countries, please describe your view of the relationship between that country and the United States. First, would you say ______ [ROTATED] is an ally, friendly but not an ally, unfriendly but not an enemy, an enemy of the United States, or haven't you heard enough about that to say? Next, ______.

BASED ON -- 519 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; +/- 4 PCT PTS

  Ally Friendly, not ally Unfriendly, not enemy Enemy of the U.S. Haven't heard enough to say No opinion
India
2000 Mar 17-19 14% 35 12 2 37 *
Pakistan
2000 Mar 17-19 2% 15 27 15 41 *

Now I would like your overall opinion of some foreign countries. Is your overall opinion of ______ [ROTATED] very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

BASED ON -- 505 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; +/- 4 PCT PTS

  Very favorable Mostly favorable Mostly unfavorable Very unfavorable No opinion
India
2000 Mar 17-19 7% 40 30 8 15
Pakistan
2000 Mar 17-19 2% 19 39 20 20

* Less than 0.5%

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/3070/americans-see-pakistan-greater-nuclear-threat-than-india.aspx
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