Grading Our Leaders: Analyzing Our Polls

Posted on May 31, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

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 areĀ  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.

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20 responses to “Grading Our Leaders: Analyzing Our Polls”

  1. Hamza says:

    adil i agree with your hypothesis. we are a people who are highly cynical and love to self-loathe. we also have extremely high standards for judging our leadership especially the one which doesnt have a gun pointed at our heads.

    although times are horrible BUT sometimes i wonder whether we subconciously are at home being miserable and would feel awkward if things were to turn for the better which they inshAllah will.

    the situation in madar-e-watan shouldnt be a surprise to anyone. its a logical manifestation of the policies of 6 decades…made not by me or average abdul but those who consider us ‘bloody civilians’. nor am i under any halucinations that they would start considering us clean all of a sudden. i refuse to believe that anyone but them has ever ‘made’ a ploicy. civilians might have went along BUT at no point have they actually called shots independently.

    most interesting aspect of this exercise for me at least is the sinking grade of Nawaz sharif. what is that people want him to do exactly? i mean i know i would want him to do a long march on every issue and topple the government but then am i oblivious to the history of our sordid past and how the ‘real powers’ benefit from political upheavel? dheeraj maharajas, dheeraj!

    ye ishq nahii.n aasaa.N itanaa to samajh liije
    ek aag kaa dariyaa hai aur Duub ke jaanaa hai

  2. wsd says:

    @Khuram Khan:

    Thanks for your comments. This is not a scam and you can see it on PTI’s front page at

    On a different note political parties all over the world, collect funds for their activities. In Pakistan it is supposed that all politicians will run their campaign on their own and will cover their losses after they come into power. I think we should be donating to our political parties ( whom we trust) to ensure that they turn into strong political institutions.

  3. farahshah says:

    I totally disagree with that the grading is harsh,because every leader has done positive or negative so the polls are accordingly.

  4. banjara says:

    perhaps u intended it as an innocent remark that we will probably not grade ourselves as harshly as we did the leadership of pakistan. but it should seriously give us some pause for thought. while u have never asked the readership to grade the citizenry of pakistan – and u should, btw – the fact is that in grading the leadership, they have also, unknowingly, graded themselves.

    the leaders of any nation do not descend from the sky; they come from within the people themselves. whatever failings they exhibit – and there is no doubt that there are plenty – are also the failings of the people of pakistan as a whole.

    i disagree with u completely that the grading is harsh; if anything, it isn’t harsh enough and the grades are fully deserved. and the citizens are, additionally, guilty for having accepted this state of affairs for the past 60+ years. worst still, we hsow no signs of learning from the past and reforming ourselves.

  5. ShahidnUSA says:

    Some are insisting that Pakistan should not take the foreign aid and be self reliance. That is VERY impressive and ultimately, but NOT at this moment of economic crisis.

    Corrupt and greedy leaders (hate to call them leaders)will always be there. Money lube their engine. Big amount of aid must go in development like education but a sizeable portion must go to friendly army to defeat Alqaida and terrorism.

    I want Pakistani leaders must work with America, India and China. Of course! I want the America to have an upper hand and accepted as a big brother. America has 50 powerful states and way ahead of Pakistan.

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