Majority of Pakistanis believe country is moving in wrong direction

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Islamabad, Jul 18 (UNI) An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis believe that the country is moving in a wrong direction and want the government to immediately impeach President Pervez Musharraf.

According to the findings of a survey, conducted by the US-based International Republican Institute (IRI) between June 1 and 15, about 86 per cent of the respondents believe that Pakistan is heading in a wrong direction while only 12 per cent think the direction is right.

The randomly selected sample consisted of 3,484 adult men and women from 223 rural and 127 urban areas in 50 districts of the four provinces.

This is the first survey carried out by any international organisation since the installation of the PPP-led coalition government after the February 18 polls, Dawn newspaper today reported.

According to the survey, 83 per cent of the respondents want the new government to remove Gen (retd) Musharraf from presidency.

A majority of 67 per cent people said they supported the election of nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan as the country's next president while 15 per cent said they did not.

With the decline in Musharraf's popularity and after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has emerged as the most popular leader in the country, with 82 per cent saying they like him and only six per cent saying they do not.

This is up from 36 per cent in June 2006, when he trailed both Musharraf and Bhutto. Likewise, Mr Sharif easily dominated the ?best leader for Pakistan' category, being the choice of 38 per cent, leaving the competition far behind.

Interestingly, Dr A.Q. Khan is at number two (with 76pc) and deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif sharing the third position (with 65pc) on the list of favourite personalities.

The poll found that President Musharraf's job approval rating had dropped significantly. Only 11 per cent said they approved of his performance while an all-time high of 75 per cent saying they did not.

In the IRI's June 2006 poll, President Musharraf was the most popular leader in the country, with 52 per cent saying they liked him. In the June 2008 poll, only nine per cent said they liked the president. When asked which one leader was the best person to handle the country's problems, President Musharraf was the choice of only three per cent.

When asked if they thought President Musharraf should resign, an all-time high of 85 per cent answered in the affirmative, up 10 points from the last poll. In addition, 79 per cent said they would feel better about the future of the country if Musharraf was out of office.

Likewise, Musharraf's allies also find themselves in an unpopular position. Only eight per cent of the respondents said they liked PML-Q leaders Pervez Ilahi and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

When asked to rate various institutions, 85 per cent said they had a favourable impression of the government, making it the most popular institution. This is in sharp contrast to the 29 per cent rating that the previous government had received.

When asked how had the government performed on issues important to them, 41 per cent responded positively and 51 per cent negatively.

Despite the fact that a majority rated the government's performance as poor, this represents a significant drop from the last rating achieved by the old government.

In the February poll, 80 per cent rated the old government's performance poorly while only 18 per cent rated it positively.

When asked if they felt that things would get better in Pakistan now that there is a new government, 52 per cent replied yes and 20 per cent said no.

Pakistanis are also unambiguous when it comes to restoration of the deposed judges. Eighty-three per cent said they wanted the judges to be reinstated. When asked how important this issue was to them, 86 per cent described it as important.

UNI XC NC GC0950

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