ATP Poll Results: Who did the most good?

Posted on August 27, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Field Marshal Ayub Khan. According to the 126 visitors who voted in the third ATP blog poll (earlier: here and here), these two did more ‘good’ for Pakistan than any of the leaders who followed them. (Of course, we should add that the Poll did not ask for an evaluation of whether the ‘bad’ they did was greater than the ‘good’; nor was the current government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf included).

The Question: Focussing primarily on whatever ‘positives’ might have been achieved during their stint(s) in power, who, amongst the following, did the most ‘good’ for Pakistan?”

Choices: (a) Ayub Khan; (b) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto; (c) Zia-ul-Haq; (d) Benazir Bhutto; and (e) Nawaz Sharif

(Click image for larger picture)

The result is a split decision, but a very clear split decision.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto got the most votes (52 votes; 41%), but is practically neck-to-neck with his erstwhile mentor-turned-nemesis Ayub Khan (48 votes; 38%). In the context of this Poll and how voting went, the honest thing is to declare them co-winners. The other three – Zia ul Haq, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharifcombined get only around half as many votes from ATP readers as either of these two! A review of the comments posted with the poll seem to verify these sentiments.

Of course, this is simply a ‘pulse of the blog’ poll and is NOT a scientific or representative survey. And, while one must (again) caution against over-analyzing these results, there are a number of striking elements in the results that are worthy of note, or at least of further discussion:

  • First, it is striking that the two people our readers voted most overwhelmingly for were both thrown out of office through massive street protests; albeit amongst very different circumstances (the later aided by a military coup and an eventual execution)!
  • Second, although my guess is that the average ATP reader is fairly older than readers of most Pakistani blogs, it is fair to say that most of our readers (and I assume voters) are too young to remember either Ayub Khan’s or ZAB’s eras. More likely that they know of them either from hearing about those times from others or (in Ayub’s case) staring at the back of painted trucks. One wonders, then, if the passage of time has had a ‘healing effect’ on the memories we have constructed of them.
  • Notwithstanding the above points, it is quite clear from the margins in the poll as well as the comments that Z.A. Bhutto and Ayub Khan are considered to be WAY above all others. This, however is not a surprise finding and only verifies the view expressed by in one comment that Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are not considered to be of the same ‘league.’ This would be so, at least partly, because they never had the type of ‘real power’ that Ayub and ZAB did and also did not stay in power long enough in continuous stretch.
  • The biggest surprise to me was Zia ul Haq getting as few votes as he did (11 votes, 9%). He did have absolute power. He was at the helm for a very long time. And he orchestrated very significant changes that continue to be difficult to undo. I would have expected that he does have a residual constituency of support that is not captured by any of the others. I assume that constituency just does not visit ATP!
  • Fifth, although Benazir Bhutto got the least votes (5 votes; 4%) I do not feel too sorry for her. My assumption is that BB’s father over-shadowed her (as he always, rightly, has). Had he not been in the list I assume a lot of those votes would have gone to Benazir. However, I am no longer convinced that all of them would have gone to her. Midway through the poll I kept thinking what might have happened if the poll only have Zia, Benazir and Nawaz as choices? I think the proportions of the votes would be very difficult, but I have no idea how. Politically, the fact remains that her constituency – although still sizable – remains largely hereditary.
  • Finally, my other big surprise was Nawaz Sharif, who got more support than I had expected (10 votes, 8%). I had though his constituency would view Zia as the ‘father figure,’ but it seems not. Although his Bomb test was cited in the comments, my sense is that most people understand than the Bomb was ‘Bhutto’s choice and Sharif’s necessity.’ Maybe for those who get to use these things, highways, airports, overpasses, and infrastructure do matter in the end.

So there. These are some of my quick thoughts on the results as they panned out. What would you add?

I wonder, how the future might view Gen. Musharraf’s legacy in comparison to these?

My guess is that he probably wants to be seen in Ayub’s mould. However, I have a feeling that history will ultimately judge him on whether and how much he is able to undo the imprints that Zia left on the country. As Chou En Lai once said about the French Revolution, ‘Its too early to say!’

33 responses to “ATP Poll Results: Who did the most good?”

  1. Ali says:

    Its a shame and its a tragedy for this country that
    sometimes politics is so often effortlessly explained.
    Education is a power and we the handful of educated
    people living within the large majority of deprived class.
    They are the ones who always suffer and they are the ones
    always change history of this country.

    I am surpirised in a way by looking at the results of the
    poll.thank god Ms.Fatima jinnah was not included in this
    poll otherwise it would have been a disturbing

    Adil Najam explains the results.

    First, it is striking that the two people our readers
    voted most overwhelmingly for were both thrown out of
    office through massive street protests; albeit amongst
    very different circumstances (the later aided by a
    military coup and an eventual execution)!

    Abeit :

    There was a mass protest against the Air Marshall and
    result was division of our beloved homeland.
    Bengalis,pashtuns,Balochs,sindhis,kashmiris, no more
    wanted to live with us(Punjabis) if the army does not go
    back to the barracks

    What happened to the mass protests ?

    Awami league became the only ruling party of

    Peoples party became the ruling party of west

    what happened to the mass protests against Mr.Bhutto’s
    government ?

    PNA(pakistan Nataional Alliance,Where is the PNA or
    even where was the PNA movement after Bhutto’s
    demise. The popular movement against Mr.Bhutto,for
    whom the people chanted slogans.Those patriots who
    people believed in like saviours.Those who stood
    against a dictator,where were they after the fall of
    the power hungry Prime Minister.

    Did they disappear into the corridors of power.Where
    were the people who followed them.Why are these
    heroes or your heroes abscent in this poll.

    Put them in the poll too.

  2. Social Mistri says:

    Ask the reverse of this question, who did the most harm?, and there ain’t even any competition. Kaana Jarnail decimates the competition, as he destroyed an entire decade for Pakistan, injecting the vast majority of the ills that plague us to this day.

    Get him out of the Faisal Mosque enclave! Send him to Kabul!!

  3. EasyLee says:

    It’s a sad fact that the only leaders we have to choose from are 3 landowners and 2 military dictators. Looking back at their periods of rule, one has no choice but to admit that any benefit to the nation was incidental. These leaders all used their positions to forward personal agendas. Trying to decide which of them did the most for Pakistan is an exercise in irrelevance.
    Let’s face it – Ayub’s tenure marked the ascendancy of the military’s power in what should have been a civilian endeavor – governance. ZAB’s legacy is the myopia which is the cornerstone of the national political process, unfulfilled yet catchy slogans and a self-serving agenda. Lest we forget, ZAB was the first to pander to the Islamist element in order to garner support. What can anyone possibly give as a positive for Zia? Nero may have fiddled, Zia fanned while Pakistan burned. BB & Nawaz Sharif were petty thieves, nothing more. The political process has become a farce so absurd that the idea of democracy itself for Pakistan seems irresponsible. The only use I can perceive for our much celebrated nuclear capability is targeting our current batch of politicians. Maybe we could wipe the political slate clean and start over? Hell I’d be happy if we started with politicians who could define and understand the words Ideology, Manifesto, Leadership and National Interest as opposed to just paying them lip-service as laudable yet unattainable concepts.

  4. Wajih ul Haq says:

    Adil, I am dumbfounded. I sincerely hope this poll is flawed.
    Is it possible to brain wash a few…yes! But is it possbile to brain wash a considerable nearrly half of the nation….ironically yes again. The only two people I consider worth mentioning are ZA Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. No no d’ont be startled, just read on.
    If you think Pakistan has been subject to global conspiracy since its birth then you are absolutely right. See, the saying goes people are very good at catching small lies, but when the lie so great that it is beyond their limited reasoning, they either accept is as truth or just chose to not to react.
    This is how absolute heros can be protrayed as villians and vice verca.
    When Nawaz Sharif took the decision of nuclear tests, he knew he is risking his life just as ZA Bhutto. Only the cabal had weakened and was unable to do what it did in 1979. enough said.
    As for Ayub Khan, creation of Bangaldesh and assasiantion of Fatima Jinnah were carried out in his epoque. As far as prosperity is concerned, there is no difference between present roshan khayali and then, all whitewash rotten beneath, enough said.

  5. humwatan says:

    did good… what good…. jo aaya, uss nay khaya, aur bohat khaya

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