NEW YORK, Dec 13: Majority of Pakistanis want to see President Pervez Musharraf step down, according to the first poll released since he declared a state of emergency last month.
Sixty-seven per cent of those surveyed said President Musharraf should resign immediately, according to the poll by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a conservative-leaning civic group based in Washington.
A full 70 per cent judged that his government did not deserve re-election and two-thirds “expressed anger at the current state of affairs, desired change and were anti-Musharraf,” the IRI said.
The results also appeared to show widespread discontent with the US-backed proposal of a power-sharing arrangement between Musharraf and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, with 60 per cent opposing the idea.
A majority (58 per cent) indicated they would prefer to see in power an opposition alliance composed of key anti-Musharraf figures, including former premiers Benazir and Nawaz Sharif.
Only one-third were “supportive of President Musharraf and were positive about the condition of the country”, while 56 per cent said the army should stay out of civilian government, it said.
On the imposition of emergency on Nov 3 and the dismissal of the Supreme Court judges, the poll said that the voters overwhelmingly opposed the measure.
Musharraf’s move polarised the country, and this polarisation carries through the other attitudes and opinions of the Pakistani electorate. This line of polarisation splits the electorate into two parts, at roughly the two-third and one-third divide. Throughout the poll, 25 to 33 per cent remained supportive of President Musharraf and were positive about the condition of the country. Seventy-five to 66 per cent expressed anger at the current state of affairs, desired change and were anti-Musharraf.
• When asked if they supported or opposed the declaration of emergency, 26 per cent said they supported it while 70 per cent said they opposed; 57 per cent said that they strongly opposed the measure.
• Pakistanis also do not accept Musharraf’s stated rationale for the state of emergency declaration. When given a choice between two options, 25 per cent said they thought Musharraf declared the emergency in order to better fight terrorists, while 66 per cent said that it was to prevent the Supreme Court from overturning his re-election for another term as president.
• Voters were also opposed to the various measures that accompanied the state of emergency declaration.
* 71 per cent opposed the suspension of the Constitution;
* 77 per cent opposed the detention of the former Supreme Court justices;
* 76 per cent opposed the closure of TV news channels;
* 73 per cent opposed the swearing-in of new Supreme Court justices;
* 70 per cent opposed the ban on political rallies; and
* 76 per cent opposed the crackdown on lawyers and civil society, and the house arrest of opposition leaders.
• Pakistanis also expressed support for the ongoing protests against the state of emergency, with 62 per cent saying that they supported the protests and 35 per cent saying they opposed them.
• When respondents were asked if they would consider elections held under a state of emergency to be free and fair, 24 per cent said yes and 66 per cent responded no.
The poll noted that Musharraf had already been re-elected to a second presidential term last month, but he could be prosecuted over the state of emergency if he did not secure a two-thirds majority of lawmakers.
The IRI said it surveyed a random sample of 3,520 people across Pakistan, and the poll carried a margin of error of plus or minus 1.69 percentage points.