Our second blog poll seems to have thrown up some interesting, but also confusing, results.
Depending on how you cut the pie, you can make the argument that:
(a) a clear majority of ATP readers want Gen. Musharraf to give up both or one of his twin offices (Army Chief and President) before the 2007 elections,
and at the same time
(b) a clear (but differently configured) majority wants him to play some role – although a more constrained role – in Pakistan’s politics.
A total of 114 ATP visitors cast their votes in the poll which was launched very early on Friday and closed very late on Monday. While this is obviously NOT a scientific survey, the results are rather intriguing, even if not representative.
The ATP Poll gave readers five options in response to the question:
In your opinion, what should Gen. Musharraf do prior to the 2007 elections on the twin-office (President and/or Army Chief) issue? [Please remember, the question is about what you think he should do, NOT about what you think he will do].
The option that got the most votes (41 votes; 36%) calls on Gen. Musharraf to retire at the end of 2006 and fully hand over both offices to his successors. While this was not an absolute majority, it is well over a third of all the votes cast in the poll. By comparison, only 19 of the 114 respondents (16.7%) preferred the option of Gen. Musharraf continuing in both offices simultaneously.
Just over a quarter of the ATP respondents (30 votes; 26.3%) want Gen. Musharraf to continue in only one of the two offices. There seems relatively little enthusiasm for passing the decision on whetehr he shoudl keep both offices or not to the next Assembly (15 votes, 13.2%) or of holding a national referendum (9 votes, 7.9%).
Of course, this is simply a ‘pulse of the blog’ poll and is NOT a scientific or representative survey. However, the results are interesting nonetheless; at least to the extent that they say something about the cohort that is likely to visit a blog such as ATP and vote in such a poll (i.e., educated, mobile, technically savvy, and globally connected Pakistanis).
While one must caution against over-analyzing these results, at least three points are worth noting; if only to nudge a discussion:
- Given that the technocratic classes tend to support (and be highly represented in) military governments in Pakistan including this one, it is noteworthy that ATP’s (technocratic?) readership chose the ‘retirement option’ (36%) for Gen. Musharraf as often as it did.
- There seems to be a sense that Gen. Musharraf should NOT continue with twin-offices into the future. Only one-sixth of the respondents (16.7%) chose this option. While those who opted for a referendum option or having the next Assembly decide (total 21.2%) may be seen as sitting on the fence on this question, those calling for his retiring from at least one office (and possibly both) were in a clear majority (total 62.3%).
- Not withstanding the above, and in fairness, it should also be noted that a majority of the respondents do, in fact, see (want?) some continued role for Gen. Musharraf — if not in both offices, then in at least one. This finding does not contradict the earlier finding; it only adds nuance (and possibly confusion).
So, where does all of this leave us? Maybe I was onto something when I had responded to a questioner in Washington DC by suggesting that public opinion amongst Pakistanis remains divided and uncertain on the future of Gen. Musharraf.
Maybe what these numbers suggest is that those responding to our poll see a continued role for Gen. Musharraf in Pakistan politics; but they would like to see him having less of a role than he has had in the past (also see earlier ATP post on democracy in Pakistan).
What do you think?