ATP Poll Results: Who Did The Most Good?

Posted on July 29, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

Our latest ATP Poll on which of Pakistan’s leaders did the most ‘good’ for Pakistan, generated quite a response. As many as 1,347 votes were cast and – more importantly – the discussion generated was intense as well as interesting. We intend to do a followup poll soon, but meanwhile analysis of the results may be in order.

This poll focused on past leaders and it followed up on our previous poll that graded the current crop of leaders. It also followed up on an earlier poll we had conducted, on the same question, three years ago. While many did just vote for their ‘favorite’ leaders, the comments suggests that many others did actually take the question seriously and considered all the actions of these leaders – good and bad – and then voted by focusing only on the ‘good’ that they did.

Of course, like always, I would stress that no blog poll (or, really any web-based poll) should ever be taken too seriously. But such polls can be interesting – and even informative – reflections on the views of the cohort of Pakistanis who feel intensely about these issues and visit this particular blog.

Having said that, let me now highlight what I thought were a few of the interesting results. I hope others will add their own insights on what these results may or may not mean.

  1. With 1,347 votes cast in the poll, this ATP Poll did attract more responses than usual. The Poll was kept open for just under two days, which is also less than we usually leave polls open. However, as always, we closed it after the results had become fairly stable. Astute readers will note that the totals do not add up to 100. One assumes this is because the service we use simply truncates after the decimal point (instead of rounding it off). However, this quirk has been accommodated mathematically in all the analysis.
  2. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, with 36% of the votes, came out as the leader who our readers think did the most ‘good’ for Pakistan during his tenure. Pervez Musharraf also had an intense following, although not as intense. He comes in second, behind ZAB, with 23% of our readers believing that he did the most good for Pakistan. Ayub Khan came next with 15% of the votes, which also puts him about equal to Benazir Bhutto was ended with 14% of the votes, although these two remained neck to neck for most of the voting. Nawaz Sharif did start off much better and in the early counting was ahead of both Benazir Bhutto and Ayub Khan; however, he ended with just 7% of the votes when the Poll was closed. Ending dead last – and having remained in that position throughout the poll – was Zia-ul-Haq who ended with 2% of the votes after being at 1% for most of the voting period.
  3. It is intriguing to compare these results with the results we got three years ago when we had asked the same question. However, any comparison should be taken with a grain of salt. That poll was done very early in ATP’s history and only received 126 votes (at that time we thought that was a lot!). More importantly, the question was the same but the options were not: Gen. Pervez Musharraf was then in power and therefore was not one of the choices (just as Asif Ali Zardari was not one of the choices this time). A few points, however, are still note worthy. First, Ayub Khan had received 38% of the votes last time and emerged second after Z.A. Bhutto. As one reader commented, it does seem that some of these votes might have shifted to Gen. Musharraf. Second, some of Z.A. Bhutto’s votes from last time might have shifted to Benazir Bhutto, who had received only 4% of the votes last time and bagged 14% this time. Finally – and maybe this is a sign of the times we live in – Gen. Zia ul Haq was placed third last time with 9% of the votes. This time was lagged behind all and only got 2% of the votes.
  4. One of the readers had astutely pointed out that the ability to leave behind lasting impacts is at least partly dependent on the length of time one is in office. I thought this was a point worth exploring in the analysis. Therefore I calculated the total number of months each of these leaders was in power and then took the percentage of votes that they got and divided it by the number of months that they had power. Thus, the area of the rectangle in each case represents the total votes and the height of each bar the “goodwill per month in power” that the leader generated. This is clearly a very rough measure and I urge readers not to read too much into it. However, it does begin to give an indicative sense of the time factor (even though, for Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif we have lumped the time they served over two separate terms, which seems a little unfair to them).

    Despite all of the caveats above, the results of this exercise are quite striking. Given that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had power for much less than Pervez Musharraf, the ‘goodwill per month’ that Mr. Bhutto seems to have generated during his time in office (at least amongst our readers) was more than twice as much as that generated by Gen. Pervez Musharraf (0.537 v. 0.267). Similarly, and strikingly, since Benazir Bhutto was in office for the shortest period amongst all these leaders, the ‘goodwill per month’ Benazir Bhutto generated seems to have been just about the same as Gen. Pervez Musharraf (0.241 v. 0.267). In fact, by this measure the ‘goodwill per month’ for Nawaz Sharif was about the same as that for Ayub Khan (0.111 v. 0.120), since the later is the one who held on to power the longest. Stylistic as these numbers might be, they seem to be not unimportant.
  5. Having done the above analysis also allowed us to do another interesting little calculation. First, it points to the fact that for the leaders that we polled for, military rulers (Ayub Khan, Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf) had control of Pakistan for 330 months while civilian leaders (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif) were in control for only 188 months. This is itself says something about Pakistan politics. More interestingly, the civilian leaders accounted for a total of 57% of the votes for having done ‘good’ for Pakistan, while military leaders – despite the much much longer stints in power – account for only 40% (see note above about the tital not adding to 100). That also means (see graph) that the ‘goodwill per month in power’ generated by the civilian leaders is 250% (2.5 times) more than the ‘goodwill per month in power’ generated by military leaders when they were in power (0.303 v. 0.121). Again, something worth thinking about!

I am sure that there is plenty that our readers will find to disagree with on the above, but more than that I hope they will add other interesting insights that might be derived from this or just continue the discussion.

So, do please tell us what you think!

27 Comments on “ATP Poll Results: Who Did The Most Good?”

  1. ASAD says:
    July 30th, 2009 1:02 am


    What an amazing piece of analysis. And great graphics as usual. This is why ATP rocks and cannot be beat!

    I like the idea of “goodwill generated per month”. But I need to read this again more carefully before I fully grasp all the points and can add to them.

  2. Gardezi says:
    July 30th, 2009 1:18 am

    Based on the comments from the last post, I am still amazed at the arrogance of some people who despite election after election resulting in one result and poll after poll, still have the arrogance to think that anyone who does not think like them is either and idiot or a traitor!

    I am not really surprised at the last point. The military has been in power twice as much as the civilians and yet the civilians are always rated higher by the people of Pakistan and have done much more. Even tough even when they were in power they were usually not in full power like the generals have been.

  3. Aamir Ali says:
    July 30th, 2009 1:49 am

    Goodwill per month ? Good grief. When I see stats like that I am reminded of Mark Twain quotation “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

    Also you left out the 1947-1958 period, a decade in which civilians were in charge, and where they also completely failed.

  4. Khalid R Hasan says:
    July 30th, 2009 2:15 am

    Another factor to consider is how long each of the leaders has been out of the public mind. One notices in popular polls of this nature (also when rating all time best sports players) that more recent personalities get more votes, simply because the voters know more about them.

    If one takes this into account, I suspect Ayub Khan’s contribution has been under-rated. By the same reckoning, ZA Bhutto’s contribution may be even higher than this poll shows.

  5. Dr Ghulam Nabi Kazi says:
    July 30th, 2009 4:51 am

    Seems like a case of poetic justice. An educated representative sample comprised predominantly of citizens of Pakistan / internet users has determined that the person who did the most good for Pakistan was was the one who was persecuted in the worst possible manner, while the person who did the least good (or most harm?) to Pakistan was the one who was the worst persecutor. The end of the latter was also an eye-opener. Indeed the mills of God grind slowly but very very finely.

  6. Watan Aziz says:
    July 30th, 2009 9:17 am

    The unscientific poll mirrors Pakistani general elections:

    * Zia was an aberration and his negation is the rejection of the religiosity posture assumed by him. 2% is about the vote religious parties manage to get, election after election.

    * Pakistanis are socially liberal (Ayub, ZAB) with a new generation of modernists and western orientation (PM, BB), and at ease and comfortable with centrist conservative outlook (NS).

    Welcome to Sufi Republic of Pakistan.

  7. Eidee Man says:
    July 30th, 2009 9:30 am

    Adil, the analysis is nicely done and while I would tend to agree with most of the conclusions, I think from a statistical point of view we might be trying to get blood from a turnip (the P-values are probably quite high).

    Also, I think the only reason Benazir did as badly in the poll is that there is probably a huge overlap between her and ZAB.

  8. Zia m says:
    July 30th, 2009 10:10 am

    The dictators have absolute power therefore a much better chance of implementing development programs.Democracy on the other hand is a slow moving process has a handicap.
    This poll proves beyond doubt democracy is better suited for Pakistan.

  9. Owais Mughal says:
    July 30th, 2009 10:17 am

    I agree with Khalid Hassan that an important factor is how long each of the leader has been out of public mind. Therefore my thinking is Mush’s numbers will come down as time goes by.

    If this poll was conducted (say) in 1989, Zia’s percentage may’ve been higher than what it is now.

  10. July 30th, 2009 10:27 am

    Some comments on this from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “how did musharraf get 23%!!”
    - “Nawaz Sharif de best……atleast he is loyal to Pak….”
    - “yes he is loyal to pakistan and his brother is long shahbaz”
    - “Nawaz Sharif and loyality are two different things. Loyal politicians are already announced as endangered species, specially in Pakistan.”
    - “ahhh…and the public did nothing, not fair, public share should be 100%, as we were responsible for bringing these people into power”
    - “No body did good to Pakistan. They are just like Americans, they use Pakistan and in bad times ran from here to thier original countries”
    - “good joke loyals hahahahaa roflol loyal hahaha dnt remmember wht happened in 1999 ran and hid lyk a jerk when he new he wud go to jaiL!!No one was more loyal to the country than the Bhuttos*keeping zardari as an xcption cuz he is not one of the Bhuttos’*they sacrificed their lyf for the country….”
    - “abviously general pervaz mushraf……he iz the one who did the best for pakistan…….mushraf zindabad….”
    - “no one is gud all r bad politition”
    - “every one wants his or her own good noe feels for the nation because they all oly care forr their bank balances nd musharaf i want to say destroyed all the present progress and now zardari is wanting to simply stop the upcoming progress stop him nation before he over takes al”
    - “Musharraf definitely made a few mistakes.. but he also definitely did good for Pakistan!”
    - “In PAKIstaN EVEry POLItiCIAn WORks FOR HIs ”MEAN”, Its Quit EmbARissing…..”
    - “45% Perwez Musharraf – 45% Ayub Khan – 10% Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Baqi saare Dust-bin Material hain… Sirf in teenon ne Sahi Maaino’n me Pakistan k liye kuch kiya hai…”
    - “How we can chek someone he is loyal to Pakistan or loyal to his seat???”
    - “nae i thnk ayub khan was the best… coz during his rule paks GDP boosted… which was 7% and paki rupee was expensive then indian rupee… so i go with Ayub Khan”
    - “Ayub Khan n Zia-ul-Haq both were superb”
    - “Mush, all the way.”

  11. ASAD says:
    July 30th, 2009 10:43 am

    A very good point was raised earlier. If you look at the top four they are all moderate-liberals. Less than 10% voted for right or center-right leaders (Zia and Nawaz Sharif).

    Some might say this is because of who comes to this site and votes here, but the fact is that every election has also shown the exact same trend. So this is real. And it is a good thing.

  12. Bangash says:
    July 30th, 2009 11:38 am

    Pakistani military rulers are not Warsaw Pact or Middle East style rulers with absolute power and no accountability. Look at Musharraf, fired a judge and lost his power. Doesn’t sound like someone who ever had absolute power.

    Democracy is indeed the preference for Pakistanis, but the trash civilian leadership Pakistan has seen is primarily responsible for the failure of democracy in the country. If they still get high ratings, its because Pakistanis prefer civilians, not that the civilians ever did anything good.

  13. Meengla says:
    July 30th, 2009 1:01 pm

    1) The ‘normalized’ graph is most interesting. What would make it even more interesting is to make it even more normalized by breaking down to the area of Pakistan held by the various Federal govts. You will find that Benazir Bhutto and her PPP did not govern over 50% of Pakistan since 1977 while anti-PPP forces–whether the khakis or their civilian offsprings–have controlled almost all of Pakistan since 1977. In fact, after the 1988 elections, situation was so bad that PPP federal ministers had to use helicopters to fly to Islamabad because Punjab’s Nawaz Sharif govt. would arrest/beat up those ministers if they were on the road of Punjab. 1993 elections was only marginally better: PPP had to concede the most crucial province of Punjab to a very tiny Wattoo PML. The ‘Establishment’ of Pakistan has never ‘trusted’ the PPP. May be not will for a long time. It would be a different topic but I’d like for the world to know how the Generals and their supported civilians managed to cut PPP to mostly a Sindhi-party.
    2) Musharraf would be my choice had he stepped away from power in, say, late 2006. The menace of terrorism was not that bad and the economy was good. But, like all dictators before him, he overstayed his welcome. A sad, predictable end in Pakistan what awaited Musharraf after that.
    3) I don’t agree with one poster’s analysis below when he lumps NS with the religious Right and hence NS’s low numbers in this poll. Even NS has long disowned Zia ul Haq. NS is a result of politics of ethnicism–just like PPP is becoming a mostly Sindh-based party. If you were to take this poll in a place like PKPolitics–which is another blogspace I go to–then NS would probably get 80% of votes. They too are ‘educated’ Pakistanis.
    4) Zia’s low numbers are so refreshing and joy to see. No amount of statistical ‘adjustments’ or other reasons can change the low opinion Pakistanis hold of him. Oh, heck, as I said before, his own son Ejaz ul Haq lost home seat to a PPP contender in the 2008 elections.
    Kudos for a great poll and a great analysis!

  14. Musaafir says:
    July 30th, 2009 1:32 pm

    I wonder if there is another poll asking “Who did the most harm to Pakistan?”, will the same pattern emerge or will this pattern reverse itself?

  15. Qudsia says:
    July 30th, 2009 4:00 pm

    The point about time is a very good one and is a good way to analyze. However, as we see, whoever stays too long ends up diminishing their goodwill. Had Musharraf left a year before he did his ratings would certainly have been high. The problem with dictators is always that they start believing that they themselves are important, even more important than the country!

  16. razia says:
    July 30th, 2009 10:08 pm

    i think bb and zab got more votes partly because of the tragic end of their lives ie. sympathy votes.

  17. Salim says:
    July 30th, 2009 10:55 pm

    I do not know how to look at results but there are few things that I do not agree with analysis. Anyhow, mentioning one … Length a person was in power and getting popular votes are complementary things not adverse, but when someone divides popular votes with number of months in power, they are using opposite completely twisted parameters to determine things. This is more ridiculous in country like Pakistan where population is ethnically diverse and divided in various Islamic sectarian groups. For example, let assume a country

  18. Gardezi says:
    July 30th, 2009 11:51 pm

    Yes, Salim, your analysis is ridiculous!

  19. Osman says:
    July 31st, 2009 12:05 am

    I appreciate the careful language you have used. Such surveys only indicate a trend and on that I think this does a very good job because most people in Pakistan today are likely to point to the same two people. I am very glad that Zia has been disregarded into history’s dustbin. But his sins are still haunting the country.

  20. Ali says:
    July 31st, 2009 9:25 am

    Ayub Khan.

    Laid foundation for Mangla and Tarbela. Built canals and other infastructure for agriculture.

    Land reform, birth control, list goes on, local government, stability, industry growth etc.

    Obviously he had faults to his rule, but no leader is perfect.

    Naturally liberals are blinded by word “democracy”, so they never will Ayub Khan any positive feedback. He is evil in their eyes. lol

  21. Ali again says:
    July 31st, 2009 9:30 am

    Again will anyone brainwashed by the word “democracy” admit to non democratic leaders having some positive qualities.

  22. Elitism says:
    July 31st, 2009 7:19 pm

    The military dictator Musharraf built (or initiated) more power & water projects in his 9 years of tenure, than any civilian government of the past (including Nawaz’ and Benazir’s combined)!

    Yet still people will blame him for today’s power crisis.

  23. August 2nd, 2009 12:04 pm

    Organize another poll “Who did bad for Pakistan” and I will promise you Musharaf will be at the top.

    By the way what value you can give to poll result that 1300 people voted ?

    out of 160 + million Pakistanis.
    or out of a few million internet users.

  24. a_syed says:
    August 2nd, 2009 6:57 pm

    Better still gather and present some hard data on how each of our so called leaders performed in providing their constituents with stuff that actually matters

    -Health care
    -Law and Order
    -Economic Growth
    -Infrastructure Investments
    -Freedom of Speech
    -Civil Rights

    Now that would be a meaningful set of statistics

  25. Aqil says:
    August 3rd, 2009 7:56 am

    I can understand the votes going to ZAB, Ayub and Mush, but it’s hard to understand why BB got so many votes. Also, I find it surprising that Ayub got so few votes.

    I think propaganda and emotions are clearly playing a role here. Also, I wonder how many of the voters have really voted specifically on the basis of who did the most good, while ignoring the bad side as the question stated.

  26. Usman says:
    August 6th, 2009 7:30 am

    1. The 160 Million people do not have internet access and actually majority do not even take part in voting.
    2. Few million intenret users have more interest in social networking sites then taking ineterest in political situation of the country.

    I think this poll does reflect people’s likes, most of the people who visit this site are educated, have interest in Pakistan Policitics and therefore would have better understanding then a farmer.

    If there is voting for ‘Who did worse’, Nawaz, Bhutto and Ayub will get the most votes. Just see what a mess the current democratic gov has got judiciary into.

  27. usman says:
    May 10th, 2011 4:08 am

    impressive results

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