ISLAMABAD: A nationally representative poll among a cross-section of more than 2,500 men and women shows that 65 percent respondents want Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to resign after his conviction by the Supreme Court. However, views on the Supreme Court judgment are somewhat divided, and are a mix of feeling happy, (36% feel that way) and sad (32% feel that way) and unsure (31% feel that way).
Nearly 50% respondents say they are in favour of the SC decision, while 38% say they are opposed. Those opposed include some who believe the punishment is inadequate. Thus those who say they would have rejoiced if the court had ordered a stricter sentence of six months and put the PM behind the bars is 40%.
As opposed to this, six percent say they would have been on the streets to protest if the punishment was as harsh as six months of imprisonment. There is also a section of the population which believes President Zardari carries a greater burden of guilt in the Swiss corruption cases, 28% believe he is more to blame, compared with 17% who blame PM Gilani; 40% consider them equally guilty.
The bottom line seems to be that the average citizen is somewhat perplexed and of mixed emotions on the PM’s role in the Swiss corruption cases and the Supreme Court decision on it, termed as conviction of the PM on a ‘contempt of court’ charge.
Despite divided views on the conviction of the prime minister on a contempt of court case, a vast majority wants him to resign. It appears that this view is triggered by a combination of factors which go beyond the recent conviction by the Supreme Court and relate to a broader dissatisfaction with the quality of governance by the present government.
The Supreme Court continues to enjoy a high level of popular support. But its popular support comes at the cost of inviting controversy.Thus 45% say their positive view or appreciation for the Supreme Court has risen as a result of its convicting the prime minister. However 26% say their view of the SC has been tarnished on the same ground. While 61% believe the SC is performing a good job by taking up a vast range of high profile public interest cases, 20% believes it oversteps its mandate.
In short the Supreme Court continues to enjoy unprecedented high levels of legitimacy and power through widely popular but contested judgments which it believes are in the interest of introducing rule of law to a misruled state.