Pakistan’s large population and geographically significant location make it an important partner for multiple countries, including the United States, which considers Pakistan a strategic ally in counterterrorism efforts. Other countries also have strong influences on Pakistan’s politics, culture, and economy; Pakistan and India have been in ongoing conflicts over the Kashmir area since the 1940s, and China has a large influence on Pakistan’s economy through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and as China is Pakistan’s largest source of imports.
Although Pakistan has not recorded as many COVID-19 cases as India and other countries, lockdowns and other measures including the closure of schools to stop the spread of the pandemic have upended life for many in Pakistan in the past year. Actions related to COVID-19 combined with extreme weather events including drought, flooding, and locusts in the past years have also contributed to food insecurity in the country, particularly among the poorest populations.
In order to gather on-the-ground feedback from Pakistanis on their feelings towards the US troop removal from Afghanistan, foreign influencers, and how COVID-19 has impacted their lives in the past year, GeoPoll conducted a study via SMS in Pakistan with 408 respondents, the majority of whom were located in the Punjab region. The study was conducted in January 2021. While this study was not nationally representative, it provides some high-level insights into the views of Pakistanis and how they are looking to the future. Read a summary of results below or jump to the dashboard with full results.
Pakistan and the Great Power Competition
There are several factors that make Pakistan a geopolitically significant country, and as such foreign powers including the United States, China, and Russia have an interest in Pakistan. GeoPoll’s study asked several questions regarding foreign influences on Pakistan, and the responses demonstrate how different countries are influencing different aspects of Pakistan. Economically, China was the clear largest influencer, cited by 49% as the biggest influencer of Pakistan’s economy, likely related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an infrastructure initiative.
Respondents were more split on the largest influence on Pakistan’s military and politics, with 33% stating that China has the largest influence on Pakistan’s military, 20% stating the United States, and 21% stating India. Politically, the United States and India are cited as the largest influences, at 32% each.
Culturally, 50% of respondents stated that India was the largest influence on Pakistan’s culture, with other countries including the United States, China, and Afghanistan having under 15% of responses each. Russia was not listed as a significant influence in any question, though more respondents felt Russia influences Pakistan’s military (7%) than any other category. Afghanistan’s biggest perceived influence was in Pakistan’s culture.
Pakistan’s Views on US Troop Withdrawal
Respondents were somewhat split on the United States’ recent announcement that they would withdraw troops from Afghanistan, with the largest group (43%) stating that they ‘strongly agree’ with the decision, while 33% strongly disagree with the decision. Although relatively small sample sizes, the oldest age group were most likely to state that they strongly disagree with the troop withdrawal, with 50% of those aged 35 and older strongly disagreeing with the removal. Females were also slightly more likely to disagree with the US troop withdrawal than males.
COVID-19 and Pakistan
COVID-19 has had economic and social impacts on huge portions of the population in most countries, and Pakistan is no exception. In line with our findings from other studies, GeoPoll found that 41% in Pakistan stated that finances were their biggest challenge due to COVID-19, and 44% state that their income has decreased a lot compared to before COVID-19, with an additional 26% stating their income has decreased a little. Despite this, respondents expressed hope for the future, with 56% stating that they believe Pakistan’s economy will get better in the next year, and 55% believing that their personal finances will get better in the next year.
Additionally, a majority of respondents stated that they would get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available to them, with 41% stating they will ‘definitely’ get the vaccine as soon as possible, and 25% stating they would ‘probably’ get the vaccine as soon as possible. The biggest concern surrounding the vaccine was the ability for everyone to get the vaccine, at 28%, followed by vaccine safety, at 21%.
Conduct Research in Pakistan
This study provides some high-level insights into several topics of interest in Pakistan. GeoPoll can conduct research in Pakistan via 2-way SMS surveys, Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) voice calls, web links, and in-person research methods. To learn more about our capabilities in Pakistan, please contact us.