Over the last two years we have asked ATP readers to grade and rate Pakistan’s power centers – the President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Chief of Army Staff, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Media – on five occasions: first in June 2009 (~800+ respondents) and September 2009 for the Media (~760 respondents), then in April 2010 (~875 respondents), October 2010 (~1000+ respondents), December 2010 (~725 respondents) and then earlier this month in May 2011 (~940 respondents). Between them these ATP Polls now give us a sense of how our readers view the nation’s power centers and how this view has changed over the last two years.
Although a blog poll is exactly that – a blog poll – and should not be taken any more seriously than that, there are many interesting snippets of insights in this data – as much about our readership as about our leadership. One should certainly not read too much into this because this set of respondents, although large, is probably not representative of anything except of who reads this blog; but what can certainly be gauged from this is how the opinion of this constant cohort has changed over time and with unfolding events. I will leave it to our readers to dig (or not) deeper into these insights, but here are at least a few that jump out in preliminary analysis (two prior analyses of this evolving data are available here and here).
- First, and quite clearly, our readers are one tough set of graders. Personally, I think too tough (and sometimes too cynical). I just hope no one will ever judge us with the harshness that we reserve in judging our leaders! Note that only once in these two years has any actor been rated above the C range, and that too a bare B-. And the most popular grade by far has been an F. Let me go out on a limb and suggest two findings: first, we have not been blessed with the best of leaders; we ourselves may also not be the kindest of citizenry either!
- Having gotten that out of my system, let me also suggest that while not kind in grading, our readers are fairly consistent graders. The first two graphs above depict the GPA equivalent from the polls and therefore demonstrates a wider fluctuation, but as the table (third figure) shows, the grades that this translates to has been remarkably consistent – except for one actor, but more on that later. While the first two figures have been sized to highlight the fluctuations, the fluctuations are certainly not erratic.
- The most remarkable result that emerges is in the grading of the Army Chief, General Kiyani. The dramatic drop in our readers assessment of his performance in the most recent poll (May 2011) is not surprising because this poll followed the Abbottabad operation by the US, but what is as remarkable is that this drop has been creeping in consistently. The first poll (June 2009) saw him getting a grade of B- largely with readers arguing that he was performing well as Army Chief because he was (a) not interfering in politics and (b) acting against insurgents and extremists. The next two polls (April and October 2010) saw his grade going down to C+ but still high for this cohort. The fourth poll (December 2010) saw him slip to a C and finally the May 2011 poll had him nearly at the bottom of the pile with a D. The dramatic drop is evident in the first figure which charts not just the grade but the GPA equivalent of the Poll scores. What is evident here – and what is important to note – is that the drop in reader perception of the Military’s performance is not sudden but has been building up.
- Amongst the government leaders, neither President Zardari nor Prime Minister Gillani are very popular amongst our readers, but the Prime Minister is relatively more popular. Both seemed to have fared better in these polls in April 2010 – which was held in proximity to the passage of the 18th Amendment – than in any other installment. Both have shown an uptick in the most recent poll.
- Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has received consistent support at a C+/C level over these two years. A more careful analysis of the data also shows that unlike other actors he does not get as many F (failing) grades, which in many other cases really tilt the result.
- Opposition Leader Nawaz Sharif has also had a rough ride, starting with a C in the first poll and then settling into a D in all subsequent ones. Certainly in more recent polls Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s grades have been most consistent with those of President Zardari – neither seem to be inspiring much confidence in our readers.
- The media tends to be rated somewhat similarly to the Chief Justice – a consistent C/C-, but more C- than C; our readers seem more skeptical of the media’s performance than of the Chief Justice’s; but, obviously, neither is inspiring great bouts of public appreciation and support.
Looking and thinking about the results of these polls, taken together, was quite instructive for me. Most importantly for the third point above (declining evaluation of the military chief), but also for the insights into our readership. Do please let us know how you would interpret these results.