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Beating Heart


If you want to understand why we’re having a tough time winning the war on terror, this survey is an excellent place to begin. Al Qaeda and the Taliban now have what amounts to a safe haven in Northwest Pakistan. From that safe haven, and with an unending supply of Pakistani recruits, the Taliban prosecutes the war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda uses its Pakistani haven to train and organize European terrorists, and to manage its worldwide network. The United States cannot attack these safe havens, because such an attack might bring down Musharraf and turn a nuclear Pakistan into an al-Qaeda controlled state. So the beating heart of the war on terror goes on beating because, at root, the Pakistani people will not tolerate the destruction of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

The survey results confirm this analysis. Osama bin Laden is viewed favorably by 46 percent of Pakistanis, with a 70 percent favorable rating inside Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. A third of Pakistanis have a favorable view of al Qaeda, 38 percent favor the Taliban, while 49 percent have a favorable view of local jihadi groups designated by the United States as terrorist. It is sometimes said that actual terrorist groups are supported by only a tiny percentage of the world’s Muslims. Yet clearly, in Pakistan, home-base of the world-wide Islamist insurgency, the percentage is very high indeed.


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