Overwhelming majority of Pakistanis want democracy, trust Armed Forces: survey

Development projects, honesty among top reasons for voting; majority believe Pakistan headed in the right direction; Unemployment, inflation beat corruption to be Pakistan's biggest problems; 2nd...

Manzar Elahi
Sajjad Haider

KARACHI: Most Pakistanis believe democracy is a better system of governance than dictatorship, and at the same time place their trust and confidence in the Armed Forces for their overall role as an institution.

This was revealed in the results of the nationwide Jang Geo News Poll conducted last month in collaboration with Gallup Pakistan and Pulse Consultant.

When asked which of the two governance systems – democracy or military dictatorship – is better, a large majority (81%) said they think democracy is the solution to the problems faced by Pakistan and development. 

19% believe Pakistan can only progress under military dictatorship, according to results of the Gallup Pakistan survey carried out across Pakistan during October 2017.

The numbers were to a large extent backed by the results of the Pulse Consultant survey, according to which 68% of Pakistanis believe democracy is better than martial law, while 32% sided with dictatorship.

At the same time, when asked to rate different institutions, a large majority (82%) placed their confidence on the overall role of the Armed Forces. 

Religious scholars ranked second with 62%, educational institutions with 57%, courts with 53%, and electronic media at 50%. 

According to the Gallup Pakistan survey, only 26% respondents said they trust politicians, while only 23% said they have confidence in the role of the police force.

Politicians ranked at the lower end of the list in both polls, with only 22% respondents from the Pulse Consultants survey also saying they trust politicians.

The Pulse Consultants survey gave somewhat comparable results for other institutions as well, with the Armed Forces getting 72%, clerics 56%, police 42%, print media 37%, judiciary 34%, and electronic media getting 29% approval rating.

An interesting point to note in the Pulse Consultant survey was that the second-most trusted institution by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-based respondents was the police force at 72%, which was even more trusted than religious scholars (68%) and just below the Armed Forces (80%).

Unemployment, inflation considered Pakistan’s biggest problems, followed by corruption

At least one in five Pakistanis believes unemployment (22%) and inflation (21%) are the biggest problems faced by the country. At the same time, 14% of the respondents interviewed by Gallup Pakistan thought corruption was Pakistan's most pressing concern, followed by energy crisis (8%), poverty (8%), and domestic terrorism (7%).

Interestingly, only 3% believe lack of education to be a critical issue.

Similar sentiment was echoed in the results of the Pulse Consultants survey, with unemployment (59%) and inflation (58%) ranking at the top of the list, followed by power shortage (31%), poverty (26%), corruption (24%), terrorism (15%), and lack of education (12%). 

Development projects, honesty among top reasons for voting

A large number of Pakistanis cite development projects launched, their liking of particular leaders, and honesty among the main reasons behind voting for their preferred political party.

Interviewers for Gallup Pakistan asked respondents for the top reason behind voting for their preferred party as compared to other political parties. 

29% respondents cited the party’s developmental projects, followed by 13% respondents who said they liked leaders of the party better than others, and 10% respondents who said their preferred party was honest.

Development in the country (25%) and honesty of leader (17%) also came out on top in the Pulse Consultants survey as the main reasons for party preference. Interestingly, about one in six (16%) respondents said their party preference was because they had always voted for the same party.

Of the respondents in the Gallup Pakistan survey who said they would either not vote or were undecided, a majority (37%) said it was because politicians are not to be trusted. This was followed by 7% respondents who cited corruption of politicians as the main reason.

Development projects (20%) and honesty (13%) also came out as the main reason for respondents changing their vote to another party in the upcoming elections.

Is Pakistan going in the right direction?

A large majority of respondents interviewed in both surveys (Gallup: 65%, Pulse: 58%) believed Pakistan was headed in the right direction.

However, 32% of the respondents in the Gallup Pakistan survey and 35% in the Pulse survey were not that positive when asked about the direction in which the country was headed. 

India, USA considered Pakistan's worst enemy; China voted best friend

In both surveys, respondents ranked India as Pakistan's enemy number 1 followed by the United States. Similarly, China was voted as the country's best friend followed by Saudi Arabia in both polls.

In the Gallup Pakistan survey, a sweeping 66% were of the opinion that India is our worst enemy, followed by 23% of respondents who thought that the biggest enemy is the US. In the Pulse consultant survey, in which respondents had the option to select multiple answers, 95% chose India as the worst enemy, followed by USA (64%).

Similarly, a very large majority (78%) said China is Pakistan’s closest friend followed by Saudi Arabia (14%). In the Pulse consultant survey, in which respondents again had the option to select multiple answers, 92% chose China while 49% chose Saudi Arabia as Pakistan best friend.

Note from Editor/Disclaimer: The Jang-Geo-News poll is carried out regularly on a national level according to internationally recognised principles of scientific polling. Large media houses across the world carry out these surveys to assess the perception and opinions of the public.

In order to make it more balanced and transparent, the Jang-Geo-News poll was carried out in collaboration with two different research agencies—Gallup Pakistan, one of the renowned survey companies in Pakistan, and Pulse Consultant, one of the fastest growing research agencies in the country.

The results represent public opinion computed on the basis of views expressed by anonymous respondents selected randomly and interviewed face-to-face. Such surveys contain a margin of error, and should not be taken as a basis for casting votes.

The combined sample size of the study was more than 6,000 households. Gallup Pakistan carried out the survey from October 10 to November 1 using an error margin of +-2 to 3% at 95% confidence level, while the parallel research by Pulse Consultant was conducted from Oct 8 to Oct 25 with a margin of error of 1.62% at 95% confidence level.