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- Saturday, June 30, 2012 - From Print Edition


Karachi: It is because of the principled stance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on the critical issues faced by the country that a survey conducted by an international research organisation has found him the most popular leader of the country, the party said in a statement on Friday.


According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre under its Global Attitudes project, the PTI chief has 70 percent approval ratings, moving up the list by 18 percentage points over the past two years. In 2010, his ratings stood at 52 percent.


He is ahead of the main opposition party’s leader Nawaz Sharif, whose ratings have steadily fallen from 79 percent in the year 2009 to 62 percent in 2012.


Bu it is President Asif Ali Zardari whose ratings have really taken a plunge - from 64 percent in the year 2008 to the current 14 percent.


Former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who was recently convicted of contempt and dismissed from office by the Supreme Court, fared only somewhat better at 36 percent. Gilani received similarly poor ratings last year, although as recently as 2010, a majority of Pakistanis expressed a favourable view of him.


Interestingly, the survey did not mention the religio-political party Jamaat-e-Islami, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the Awami National Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.


According to the survey, seven out of ten Pakistanis have offered a favourable opinion regarding the PTI chief.


It was also stated in the Pew Research Centre report that Khan enjoyed incomparable popularity among young Pakistanis.


The PTI said the survey was suggestive of people’s discontent with the proponents and beneficiaries of the political status quo and widespread disgruntlement was evident from the fast eroding popularity of the leaders of the two mainstream political forces.


Details about the public opinions on the country’s most critical issues explain the PTI and its leader’s rise in popularity. The results reveal that 97 percent of Pakistan is familiar with drone attacks considered them negatively.


“Those who are familiar with the drone campaign also overwhelmingly (94 percent) believe the attacks kill too many innocent people. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) say they are not necessary to defend Pakistan from extremist organisations.”


Thus Imran Khan’s longstanding stance against the war on terror and the drone strikes in particular is one which is representative of the sentiments of an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis.


Furthermore, Pakistanis continue to express considerable discontent with the state of affairs in their country.


About nine-in-ten (87 percent) are dissatisfied with the country’s direction. Similarly, 89 percent describe the national economic situation as bad. Crime and a lack of jobs top the list of national concerns, with nine-in-ten citing these issues as very big problems for Pakistan.


Terrorism is also a major concern and a vast majority (86 percent) agrees. Roughly three-quarters of Pakistanis are very concerned about corrupt political leaders (78 percent) and illegal drugs (76 percent). Widespread public concern on these issues is reflective of the extent of disgruntlement over governance at different levels.


The Pakistan People’s Party heads the coalition government at the Centre and three provinces and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is at the helm of affairs in the largest province of the country.


This explains that public discontent on the issues faced by the country has translated into the two major political forces and their leaders significantly losing their popularity.


On the contrary, the PTI and its leader’s principled and representative stance on these issues have turned public opinion decisively in their favour.