Islamabad, July 24: The battle in Pakistan is between the PTI led by Imran Khan and PML-N led by Nawaz Sharif's brother Shahbaz Sharif. Campaigning has ended for the elections for which several have cast aspersions on the conduct of the Pakistan army. Pakistan will be voting tomorrow.
An opinion poll on Monday has put the PTI slightly ahead of the PML-N. The survey has found that 14 per cent of the respondents in the Punjab province, the PMLN's stronghold, remain undecided. And, it is this group of voters who are expected to determine the final outcome of the 2018 elections.
The survey says that the PTI is leading with 29 per cent, followed by PML-N at 25 per cent. The Pakistan People's Party led by Bilawal Bhutto is at 20 per cent.
Also in the fray are Hafiz Saeed's men who are contesting on the ticket of the Allah-o-Akbar party. Saeed has fielded 79 candidates for the National Assembly and 181 for the four provincial assemblies.
Around 70 per cent of the supporters of both parties have reported a strong or very strong intent to vote. To win a majority in the province, the PTI has to swing a substantial portion of the undecided voters on to its side. The case would be similar where the PML-N is concerned.
In Punjab, the survey shows that PMLN has a lead of 7 percentage points over PTI which is outside the survey's provincial margin of error of + 1.9 percentage points. But what is of concern for PMLN, and gives hope to PTI, is that outside central Punjab, the former's 5 percentage points lead lies within the survey's margin of error of + 2.6 percentage points in this region. This, combined with the fact that this region accounts for 55 per cent of the province's National Assembly seats, makes the contest between the two parties a real cliffhanger.
The survey was carried out in 55 districts across Pakistan. The survey was conducted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), one of Pakistan's respected think tanks, and the Herald magazine, the Dawn newspaper group's magazine. The survey carried out between June 25 and July 12 with 6,004 randomly chosen respondents - 2,848 from Punjab, 1,117 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1,055 from Sindh and 984 from Balochistan.