What is it about?

In this paper, we seek to explain why some Pakistanis oppose the drone program while others support it. Because the vast majority of the sample indicated that they had not heard of the drone program, we must also determine the predictors of those who are unaware of this program, despite the enormous publicity it receives. To achieve the first goal, we rely upon elite discourse analysis of Pakistani writings on this sensitive subject. We examine arguments advanced by both Pakistani opponents and proponents of the use of drones to put forth several testable hypotheses that may explain support for and opposition to the U.S. drone program in Pakistan. To test these hypotheses, we leverage recent Pakistani survey data collected by Pew’s Global Attitudes Project. This dataset provides us with a dependent variable (support for the drone program), as well as several potential explanatory variables that can instrument for our proposed hypotheses. Selection effects restrict the size and composition of persons answering the question that comprises our dependent variable. To contend with these selection effects, we employ the Heckman selection model, which allows us to control for the characteristics of those who are not familiar with the program as well as for other explanatory variables that may predict attitudes about the program among those who were familiar with it and expressed an opinion about it.

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Why is it important?

We find that more highly educated males with higher levels of Internet use are more likely than other groups to know about the program and thus to be included in our dataset. Among the minority of survey participants who both had heard of the program and expressed an opinion about it, opposition could be traced principally to the elite media discourse on the drone strikes. Media coverage of the strikes focuses on their human costs 12Pew Global Attitudes Project, “Little Knowledge of Drone Strikes in Pakistan,” 12 August 2010, accessed at http://pewresearch.org/databank/dailynumber/?NumberID¼1069, 9 May 2013. 4 | POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY and commonly expresses distrust of the United States. We show that less‐ educated Pakistanis, women, and persons who view the United States as an enemy are more likely to oppose the drone program, all else being equal. We do not find other potential explanations, such as support for political Islam, to be relevant.

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This page is a summary of: Pakistani Opposition to American Drone Strikes, Political Science Quarterly, March 2014, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/polq.12145.
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