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For Pakistanis, bin Laden death anniversary sparks ... nothing (+video)

Polls show that Pakistanis are ambivalent about the Al Qaeda leader, and view his death as a foreign issue. Religious parties, however, may use anti-US sentiment in upcoming elections.

By Aamir LatifContributor / May 1, 2012

Women carry their belongings as they walk past a boundary wall of the demolished compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 1.

Mian Khursheed/Reuters

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Islamabad, Pakistan

A year after Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan, few Pakistanis consider his demise to be a call for change inside Pakistan and a small minority profess support for his remnant Al Qaeda

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According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, 13 percent of Pakistani Muslims hold a favorable view of Al Qaeda, 55 percent an unfavorable view, and roughly one-third offer no opinion.

Though individuals on the street seem to hold mixed and strong political opinions from everything from the Pakistan government’s involvement in the raid to the future of Al Qaeda, analysts don’t think the bin Laden raid will affect elections here in the coming months because few consider his actual life or death a domestic issue.

“Al Qaeda or bin Laden will have no role in forthcoming elections because people generally vote on domestic issues like economy, poverty-alleviation, and employment,” says Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based political and defense analyst.
 
Mustaqeem Zafar is a high school student about to graduate and a resident of the town where Mr. bin Laden’s compound was situated. Mr. Zafar, and most of his friends say they do not have much sympathy for bin Laden. But, they’re quick to add that they disapprove of the US operation on Pakistani soil.
 
Mr. Zafar says that bin Laden was a reaction to “US policies,” but he did nothing good for Pakistan, aside from inspiring a series of suicide bombings and armed attacks on military installations in different parts of this South Asian Muslim state.
 
Nasarullah Mehsud, a Pashtun who moved to Karachi from the tribal area of South Waziristan along the Afghan border, says that the killing of bin Laden is not the end of Al Qaeda.
 
“Al Qaeda is no more an organization. It has become an ideology, which is [being fed by US actions in] Afghanistan, and other parts of the world,” says Mr. Mehsud, who used to teach at a local school in his hometown. His school has been closed for the past few months due to fighting between Taliban and security forces. “Osama was a symbol of resistance against modern colonialism, and his elimination cannot put off this resistance.”
 
Shakir Khan, another Pashtun, who owns a small transport company in Karachi, is more concerned with domestic issues.
 
“My suggestion to all those who admire Osama and company, and vow to follow him: You should wage a jihad against poverty and illiteracy, and help the country out of economic and military reliance on US,”  he says.

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