Rani Singh

Poll boost for Musharraf’s rivals

Poll boost for Musharraf's rivals
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I’ve mentioned before that election polls don’t happen nearly as often in Pakistan as they do in America. Then, like the London buses….

This week the US-based International Republican Institute, which conducted a poll across all four Pakistani provinces over ten days in January 2008, found the PPP leading, with 50% of those sampled saying they would vote for it;  Nawaz Sharif’s PML (N) party achieved 22% of the votes; and the pro-Musharraf PML (Q) trailed in third with 14%.

There has been a perception by those in power that Pakistanis can have the wool pulled over their eyes. The poll finds this isn’t true. 79% would feel that rigging had occurred if Musharraf’s PML (Q) party won.

Of likely post-election coalition scenarios, a PPP/PML (N) partnership seems most popular at 72% and most acceptable too with sampled voters of each of the two parties concerned. A significant bit of power-broking this week seems to add weight to that figure. Nawaz Sharif for the PML(N) and Asif Ali Zardari for the PPP met in Lahore for the first of two pre-election love-ins.

With the air of a desperate man, President Musharraf rubbished the poll findings in a state run-PTV broadcast on Thursday, 14th February. He said that the polls were conducted “Through non-governmental organisations who abuse us.” One of his aides said this week that the numbers polled were too few to give an accurate indication of what people were really feeling.

Update: a third poll by GlobeScan for BBC Urdu suggests that though Pakistanis are depressed about the current situation in their country, “half were hopeful ... that things would improve over the next six months.”  I can only see a rise in violence in the near-to-medium-term future so that half may be reviewing its thoughts fairly soon…