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Survey Finds Rising Support for PMLN in Pakistan

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Majority of Pakistanis want incumbent government to complete five years in power

The Institute for Public Opinion Research (IPOR) on Thursday issued the results of its latest public perception survey of Pakistan, with 27 percent of respondents claiming they would vote for the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) if elections were held “next week,” compared to 24 percent who would vote for the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Conducted from June 19-30, the survey claimed that the PMLN had not surpassed the PTI in popularity since the July 2018 general elections. It said that 11 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), 3 percent for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), 2 percent for the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, and 1 percent each for the PML-Quaid and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.

However, while the support for the PMLN has increased, a majority of respondents, 57 percent, feel that the incumbent government should be allowed to complete five years in power. In contrast, 29 percent feel there should be fresh elections to form a new government.

Major challenges

Of the respondents, a full 23 percent cited unemployment as the most important issue facing Pakistan right now, with 21 percent said their biggest concern was inflation. Similarly, 14 percent of respondents said the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were a pressing concern, while 11 percent claimed diminishing business opportunities were a major issue. Poverty, lockdown, bad economy, fuel shortage, school closures, loadshedding, financial issues, corruption and ‘other’ concerns were also cited as major issues for Pakistanis right now.

The government’s “relief budget,” which was passed by Parliament this week, has been found satisfactory by only 21 percent of respondents, while 52 percent said that they did not believe it would help them.

In response to a question on whether respondents thought things were headed in the right direction, 35 percent said Pakistan was headed in the right direction, while 64 percent said it was headed in wrong direction.

Savior of the masses

To a question on who can solve the myriad challenges currently facing Pakistan, 27 percent of IPOR’s respondents said they believed PMLN President Shahbaz Sharif could sort out their issues. In contrast, 22 percent of them said they felt P.M. Khan could solve the country’s issues; 7 percent Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa; 6 percent God; and 5 percent PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Worryingly, 2 percent believed Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the rightwing cleric who heads the TLP, could solve the country’s problems.

According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with the prime minister’s response to the pandemic—with 14 percent saying the center showed “bad” performance and 28 percent saying it was “very bad.” However, the majority, 52 percent, supported Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “smart lockdown” strategy, with 25 percent of them saying his response had been “very good” and 27 percent that it was “good.”

According to IPOR, its survey was conducted through computer assisted telephonic interviews and covered a representative sample of 1,702 men and women in urban and rural areas of all four provinces of Pakistan. The survey is estimated to have an error margin of approximately ± 2.38 percent and had a response rate of approximately 56 percent. In line with provincial populations, Punjab accounted for 54 percent of sampling; Sindh 23 percent; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 17 percent; and Balochistan 6 percent.

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