Washington: On the eve of historic elections in Pakistan, a dismal public mood prevails in the country with majority of the people for the first time considering the threat from the Taliban on par with that from arch rival India, a poll by a US think tank showed on Tuesday.

The country's public mood is exceedingly grim. Roughly nine-in-ten Pakistanis believe the country is on the wrong track, and about eight-in-ten say the economy is in poor shape, according to the survey on Pakistan by the Pew Research Center.

Concerns about extremist groups have increased markedly, the poll said adding that more than nine-in-ten Pakistanis describe terrorism as a very big problem, and about half now say the Taliban is a very serious threat to their country.

"For the first time since the Pew Research Center began polling on these issues, the Taliban is essentially considered as big a threat to Pakistan as longtime rival India," the organization said in a press statement.

America's image remains extremely negative in Pakistan. Only 11 percent give the US a favourable rating, and a similar low number (10 percent) express confidence in US President Barack Obama.

Today, most Pakistanis (64 per cent) see the US as more of an enemy than partner. Pew said the face-to-face survey was conducted from March 11-31 among 1,201 respondents. The sample covers approximately 82 percent of the country's adult population.

The survey also finds that the incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari receives negative reviews with 83 percent expressing an unfavourable opinion of him. In contrast, two-thirds have a positive view of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

Six-in-ten also have a positive opinion about cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. Roughly eight-in-ten (79 percent) think the Pakistani military, which for decades has been an important player in the country's politics, is having a positive influence on the nation.

Further, Pakistanis are concerned about a variety of national problems - especially crime and terrorism. About 95 percent describe crime as a very big problem, and 93 percent say the same about terrorism. Illegal drugs, political corruption, the situation in Kashmir, pollution, access to clean water and poor quality schools are considered very big problems by at least two-thirds of those polled, the survey said. Pakistan goes to polls on May 11 in what will be the first democratic transition of power in its history.


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