WEB DESK: Even the best of opinion surveys can go wrong; the latest being quite a few in India who had predicted a landslide victory for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent Bihar election. So must be the Pew Research Centre opinion survey made public this week which tends to suggest, quite incorrectly if not maliciously, that only 20 percent Pakistanis are unfavourably disposed towards the so-called Islamic State (IS). Out of the rest, while 9 percent support the IS the 62 percent have ‘no opinion’ about it.
That is indeed a shocking revelation given that none whosoever in Pakistan ever upheld the cause of the IS and voiced support for it – the one odd exception was the Lal Masjid Imam and there too he withdrew his support after the Peshawar Army Public School massacre last year. About 50 Pakistani religious scholars are on record having rejected the IS philosophy by issuing a decree.
And now when this devilish entity caused a huge carnage in Paris it has been condemned by the Pakistanis across the board, with students of the Peshawar Army Public School in the lead telling the Parisians ‘you are not alone’. How come then that of 11 Muslim majority countries the PEW surveyed Pakistan is at the bottom of anti-IS nations?
No other Muslim country has suffered so much and for so long at the hands of extremists and fanatics as Pakistan has, and no other country has taken on these demons at a scale the Pakistan’s armed forces have done. Obviously, there is something intriguing about this survey – and certainly there is.
This survey was conducted as part of the Pew Research Centre’s annual global poll in April and May this year. By that time the IS was hardly anything different from what Taliban were to the people of Pakistan. It had yet to acquire singularity it now enjoys as the most ruthless killing machine. In Pakistan it was the Taliban known for the atrocities, as the IS was nowhere present except for a few graffiti on the walls.
Had the surveyors asked for public opinion about Taliban instead of Islamic State, the outcome would have been just the opposite of what the PEW is now shouting from the top of the house. So “don’t know” doesn’t mean the Pakistanis embrace the Islamic State’s perverted version of Islam and support its cause. That release of doctored version of the six-month old general survey, which tries to project Pakistan as a pro-IS Muslim state, should be released coincidental to the Paris massacre, blood-bath in Beirut and bombing of the Russian airliner – the scheme of things can be anything but an honest research work. And no less intriguing is the fact that the Pew decided to make public this so-called survey at the time when Pakistan Army Chief was in Washington.
The timing of its release is quite intriguing. Why making public a particular portion of an old, omnibus opinion survey became indispensible the Pew Research Centre may like others to know. These are testing times. The IS seems to be succeeding in its designs to cause an Armageddon between the Christian West and Islamic world. That non-Muslim individuals and communities would harshly react to the Paris massacre was something that the entity knew well and acted accordingly.
It was perhaps also aware of the fact that social media would ultimately play into its hands and it is playing. There are reports of vandalizing mosques and mistreating Muslim men and women in some countries in Europe and North America. If not checked effectively and in time these hate crimes would snowball creating space to be claimed by the extremist entities like IS. Moreover, the leadership of the West and Islamic world must acknowledge the existence of grim reality that their policies have given birth to a variety of fanatic entities.