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Democracy In Pakistan, Cont'd

Why did the Obama team take so much care to drop the word "democracy" during last week's AfPak meetings? Here's your answer:

As the Pakistani military pressed its campaign to root out Taliban militants from three districts northwest of the capital, a recent poll showed that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis did not consider terrorism to be the most important issue facing the country, but instead ranked the economy at the top.

The poll was released Monday by the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit group based in Washington that is affiliated with the Republican Party and promotes democracy abroad. The survey also showed that 81 percent of the respondents said they thought that the country was headed in the wrong direction.

Most blamed President Asif Ali Zardari, and his approval rating was just 19 percent. But an overwhelming majority still said they preferred an unstable democracy to a military dictatorship....

“The most striking thing about the survey is that while 81 percent feel the country is headed in the wrong direction, 77 percent say they wanted to live in a democratic setup,” said Thomas E. Garrett, regional program director for the Middle East and North Africa for the International Republican Institute. “I think it is quite an amazing number.”

A heartening one, too, I suppose. It's also nice to see that "69 percent agreed that having the Taliban and Al Qaeda operate in Pakistan was a serious problem." If and when that number dives, then it'll be time to freak out.

--Michael Crowley