Majority of Pakistanis Want Mushrraf to Go: BBC Poll

A BBC poll report said on Thursday that a large majority of Pakistanis were in favour of President Musharraf’s resignation. (64%) Pakistanis say that stability and security in Pakistan would get better “if President Musharraf were to resign now”. Only one in four (25%) say that security would get worse if he were to resign.

Just 29% regard Pervez Musharraf’s election as President last November as valid, while 49% say it is invalid (22% percent did not provide an answer).

In one of the most striking findings of the poll, almost two out of three Pakistanis (63%) say that the National Assembly should reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court following the general election. Only 19% say the Assembly should not seek Chaudhry’s reinstatement.

The poll of a nationally representative sample of 1,476 Pakistanis was conducted by Gallup Pakistan using in-home interviews from 27 to 28 January 2008.

Asked about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, only a small minority – 16% – believe the Pakistani government’s contention that the Pakistani Taleban leader Baitullah Mehsud and his al-Qaeda linked network are responsible.

The largest number – 39% – believe that “the Pakistani security agencies or people linked to them” are responsible. Twenty-four per cent say that some other party is responsible and 21% say they do not know. (The poll was taken before the release of the Scotland Yard report largely affirming the Pakistan government’s account of how Bhutto died).

Looking ahead, Pakistanis are divided about whether the general elections scheduled for 18 February will be “free and fair.” Forty-four per cent say they are very (11%) or somewhat (33%) confident that they will be free and fair. Forty-six per cent say they are not very confident (27%) or not at all confident (19%).

Overall, Pakistanis do show some cautious optimism that the situation in Pakistan will improve over the next six months. Fifty-one per cent say they are very (16%) or somewhat (35%) optimistic that conditions will improve. In contrast, 39% say they are very (19%) or somewhat (20%) pessimistic.

GlobeScan President Doug Miller, who worked with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland to develop and analyse the poll, says:

“While many Western governments have supported President Musharraf in the belief that he offers the only hope of a stable Pakistan, average citizens in the country disagree with this assessment in large numbers.”

There were a number of variations among provinces. The belief that Musharraf’s resignation would help to stabilise the country was held by majorities in all provinces, though in Sindh the majority was not as strong (56% believe the country would stabilise).The belief that Pakistani security agencies or those close to them are responsible for Benazir Bhutto’s death was strongest in the North West Frontier Province (48%) and in Sindh (46%), and weakest in Baluchistan (30%).

Sindh was the least optimistic (38%) that conditions in the country would improve in the next six months and Baluchistan was the most optimistic (76%). Punjab and NWFP (53% each optimistic) were similar to the country overall.

Gallup Pakistan conducted 1,476 face-to-face, in-home interviews on 27 and 28 January 2008 across four provinces, including urban and rural locations in each province (details given below). The sample was weighted based on geography, the urban/rural ratio, and key demographics to reflect the distribution of the national population.

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