Poll Results: Emerging Shape of Pakistan Politics

Posted on October 10, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, Politics
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Adil Najam

In introducing our last ATP Poll, I had suggested that the most important political questions demanding analysis relate to how Pakistan politics will shape up because of the events of the last year, but particularly in light of Gen. Musharraf getting himself elected as President again.

ATP Poll on Oct 6 Elections and Pakistan

The responses from our readers suggests that there is great uncertainty about exactly what will transpire, but significant consensus that the instability is most likely to continue.

We had posed two questions this time.

Q1. Assuming that Gen. Musharraf will get himself elected as President, what do you think is most likely to happen next?
Q2. One year from today, what do you think would be the level of Gen. Musharraf’s political power?

Some of the interesting findings that emerge from the first question are (435 responses):

1. There is a very small minority of our readers (3%) who believe that Gen. Musharraf’s election will not stand. They seem to suggest that the Supreme Court decision still pending will somehow invalidate the results of October 6. The real thing to note here is just how few of our readers actually believe that the Supreme Court will act thus.

2. There is a more significant minority (as many as 11%) who do see an optimistic future and believe that ‘a government of national unity will be formed and things will calm down.’ Although this is not a large proportion of respondents, it is nonetheless a significant proportion.

3. There is another significant minority (16%) who feel that Gen. Musharraf wil, once again, refuse to drop his uniform. That once elected, he will again go back on his promise. Here, again, the thing to note is that while not a majority, this is not an insignificant proportion.

4. Finaly, and importantly, the vast bulk of respondents see continuing instability in the affairs of the state one way or the other (70%). Of this group, the single most popular response was that ‘political turmoil will continue in Parliament with odd and unstable coalitions’ (28%). The second common response in this cluster was that ‘political unrest will increase and spill to street protests and the Supreme Court’ (22%). Third, there are 19% of our readers who feel that instability will continue because without his uniform, gen. Musharraf will be sidelined by politicians and the new military leadership. Although there are nuanced differences between these three responses, the common element is that each suggests a continued and prolonged period of instability.

The findings from the second question are even more clear (432 responses):

1. Just over half the respondents (51%) believe that in a year from now Gen. Musharraf will still be President but he will have much less power and influence. One assumes that they feel so because of the of the confluence of the points highlighted in bullet 4 above.

2. Interestingly, as many as a third of our readers (33%) believe that in a year from now Gen. Musharraf will no longer be President and will not be in power in any other capacity. This is a surprisingly large number and, once again, suggest a coming era of greater instability.

3. There are, however, a significant number of respondents (15%) who feel that in a year from now Gen. Musharraf would have further consolidated his hold on power further; that he will be more powerful than he is today. This probably includes many of those who hold an optimistic view of politics to come, but obviously also include some who see this as a dangerous proposition.

All in all, then, hold on to your seats. The roller coaster will continue and we are in for some interesting politics and, maybe, dangerous upheavals. Let us know what you make of these responses. Of course, any web poll is just that – a web poll, that reflects the opinions and biases of those who visit this poll. Extrapolating too much from these numbers can be dangerous. However, it does seem that the basic prediction of continued and enhanced instability is a fair one. Having said that, how would your analysis of these numbers be different, and why?

P.S. I have been accused, probably rightly, of being too depressed by the mockery that has recently been made of all democratic ideals by all concerned. I have already pleaded guilty to this charge. These are depressing times for anyone who still believes in democracy. And I do.

As I have stated before, I believe that Pakistan is a democratic society trapped in an undemocratic state. Despite my my disgust at recent machinations, I do believe that ultimately the will of the Pakistani people will triumph. If I did not believe that I would not believe in democracy. But let me not dwell much on this point. I have made it in umpteen posts here at ATP and also made it recently during a detailed radio discussion on National Public Radio’s (US) popular news analysis program, On Point, where I was a guest this Monday (listen to show here; I have been a guest on the show multiple times, including on the Lal Masjid affair).

19 Comments on “Poll Results: Emerging Shape of Pakistan Politics”

  1. Haris says:
    October 11th, 2007 2:46 am

    Another question should why is Pakistani nation so insensitive? What would it take them to go out and protest for their rights? Who are they waiting for?

  2. Viqar Minai says:
    October 11th, 2007 3:06 am

    I had said this in response to your earlier post, and I’ll say it again here. The poll numbers merely reflect the feelings and opinions of the polled, while what matters is that which is actually going to happen. And that which is actually going to happen has nothing to do with the feelings and opinions of the polled. The Pakistani politics at the moment has no relationship whatsoever with the aspirations of its people. The disconnect could not be any greater.

    It may very well be that a minority view – either 11% or 16% – is the correct predictor of the shape of things to come.

  3. Viqar Minai says:
    October 11th, 2007 3:12 am

    “Another question should why is Pakistani nation so insensitive? What would it take them to go out and protest for their rights? Who are they waiting for?”.

    They are waiting for a messiah. But a messiah does not come to people so complacent; only tryrants do.

    “khudA nE Aj tak Uss Qaum kI hAlat nahIN badli
    ke jis ne apne hAthoN apni KhU Khaslat nahIN badli”.

  4. Karim says:
    October 11th, 2007 5:45 am

    The findings are not surprising and probably your analysis of them is right. I think the new setup is already showing its color:
    1. NWFP assembly dissolved
    2. BB asked to delay her return
    3. New military leaders have taken their posts

  5. October 11th, 2007 12:54 pm

    Adil Bhai,

    Interesting post as usual, its seems Mush will go on with ease at least till the elections since BB has sold out too. Regardless the court of the people will decide our fate, my most recent post is worth a read titled Pakistan’s judgement week and is available at http://www.otherpakistan.org/archive.html



  6. Sohail Agha says:
    October 11th, 2007 1:09 pm

    Saw the movie ”The State within” (U.K. 2006) the other day…..It could have been made about the current situation in Pakistan ….Did someone get to see it in the U.S.

  7. Sohail Agha says:
    October 11th, 2007 1:19 pm

    See also pkpolitics.com
    A wonderful service giving access to all the various current affairs programs in GEO, ARY and Aaj TV.

  8. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 11th, 2007 4:48 pm

    Hi folks,

    just want to repeat here what Anwar Shaoor in his
    qata’a says:

    Suntay suntay muafion ka zikr
    Ho gaya turk Mafia kehna
    Kar dia hay shuru’o abh hum nay
    Mafia ko muafia kehna

    kia khoob kaha hay !!!!!!

  9. Ahson Hasan says:
    October 11th, 2007 9:00 pm


  10. Daktar says:
    October 11th, 2007 10:16 pm

    Ahson, that is a very insightful analysis. A post in itself really. Thanks. My only contention will be that if Gen. Musharraf does give up his uniform then you will see new military leadership start asserting itself and Musharraf will become less and less important. Loyalty or no loyalty, power speaks its own language. WHich is why the real question is to see whether he drops the uniform and how long before new military leadership start treating him not as their former commander but as just one more politician.

  11. Ahson Hasan says:
    October 12th, 2007 9:00 am

    Daktar, thanks for the appreciation. Your concerns are absolutely valid. As far as doffing the uniform is concerned, I don

  12. Kamran says:
    October 12th, 2007 7:04 pm

    Interesting results I think they reflect true state of confusion in country

  13. Bewaqoof Pakistani says:
    October 12th, 2007 8:26 pm

    We are already seeing the shape of things and mush is telling BB not to come, also the COurts are also playing right into Mush hand by saying that the NRO is wrong…. so, the courts will stop BB’s return and the Chaudhrys will sit and laugh at the whole engineered thing and stay in power. Wah Wah.

  14. Ahson Hasan says:
    October 12th, 2007 10:02 pm

    Although I don’t live in Pakistan but thanks to all this advancement in technology I do have a clear idea of how things are shaping up over there and have some understanding of the ebb and flow of public opinion. These grades are utterly amazing, perhaps a true depiction of how Musharraf has performed over the last few years. Notwithstanding the fact that it’s hard to talk in terms of exact figures in social sciences, in all fairness, it is not difficult to judge Musharraf’s doings and undoings. For all I know Musharraf ain’t no miracle worker! He’s no Jinnah, or Gandhi or Mandela – he’s just an ordinary dictator, powered with his lust for riches; perhaps, no better than Mahmud Ghaznavi or Mohammad Ghori. Now, the question is: does the rest of Pakistan think on the same lines as this blog poll? Well, I apologize for being a diehard pessimist, folks, but I would say that the rest of Pakistan is so fed up with Mushy’s rule of no law that the results could be horribly and agonizingly to our general who refuses to turn into a civilian.

  15. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 13th, 2007 5:06 am

    Benazir, on her arrival must be arrested, tried , judged
    and examplarily punished severly before public, she
    should be humiliated as she and her Hubbi did to entire
    nation of Pakistan, it is indeed a test of basic
    law and order and JUSTICE !! ( NOT MADE IN USA ).
    The worst kind of colonial “Democracy” Raj style is going
    to be forced in Pakistan, this will be a culturel genocide of
    the nation through “forced” change called STALINISM.

  16. Sohail Agha says:
    October 14th, 2007 11:59 am


    This is what even ‘The Economist’ said…..
    ”Farce in Islamabad”

    ”….Perhaps a proper election can still be salvaged from this mess. If not, the loser will be democracy, and the winner not stability but Islamist extremism.”

  17. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 15th, 2007 4:11 am

    Suggestions to Nawaz Shareef’s lawyers :

    Mussharaf with his gang must be brought
    before International Court of Justice for

    Crimes against Democracy,

    Disruption of Democratic process by illigal
    seizure of power ,

    Forcing, kidnapping of a democratically elected
    Government and its elected PM Nawaz Shareef.

    Crimes against Nawaz Shareef, country’s genuine
    democratically elected Prime Minister.

    Illigal Toppling of a Democratically elected Government.

    Nawaz Shareef’s Government be re-established, He be
    re-installed, in order to function normally.

    Mussharaf, and those who plotted the coup, must be
    tried before local court and presented before
    Army’s court Martial, and be punished accordingly.

  18. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 17th, 2007 11:37 am

    Viqar Minai,

    Messiah or not , wasting time en attendant,

    Haris u must check in Quran AlBaqara:
    Inallaha laa yougaiyerou ma be-qaum-e-him,
    Hattah yougaiyerou ma be-anfosihim
    you know what does it say ?

  19. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 20th, 2007 4:23 pm

    Qazi Hussain Ahmed ,

    you can observe the real visage of Fazlurrehman, the main
    Ummayadi politician culprit, in 1994 he the same game
    Its time now that all muslims in MMA should throw them
    out as we can not afford Ummaydi corrupt so called
    Islam, its sad you have’nt learned anything from history,
    atleast have a browse in Khilafat-o-mulukiat

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