Pakistan: Imran, not Zardari, is most popular leader

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s popularity has dipped to an abysmally low, a poll said.

Updated: Jun 28, 2012, 13:05 PM IST

Washington: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s popularity has dipped to an abysmally low, lower than his predecessor Pervez Musharraf, while cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan has the highest popularity ratings in the country.

“Only 14 percent view Zardari favourably, little changed from last year (11 percent in 2011), but down significantly from 64 percent in 2008,” the Pew Research said releasing the results of its survey in Pakistan today.

Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was recently convicted of contempt and dismissed from office by Pakistan’s highest court, fares only somewhat better, at 36 percent favourable.

Gilani received similarly poor ratings last year (37 percent), although as recently as 2010 a majority of Pakistanis expressed a favourable view of him.

The most popular leader included on the survey is Imran Khan.

Seven-in-ten Pakistanis offer a favourable opinion of the former cricket star and leader of the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI).

This is essentially unchanged from last year (68 percent in 2011), but up significantly from 2010 (52 percent).

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also generally well-regarded – about six-in-ten offer a positive view of the leader of the country’s main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Sharif has consistently received high marks in recent years, although his ratings are down somewhat from the 79 percent registered in 2009.

Slightly more than half rate Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry favourably.

Ratings for both the Army chief and the chief justice have slipped slightly since 2010.

Former president (and military chief) Musharraf, who has occasionally suggested he may return to Pakistani politics, receives relatively poor ratings.

Meanwhile, the military continues to receive overwhelmingly positive marks from the Pakistani public — 77 percent say the institution is having a good influence on the country. Roughly six-in-ten (58 percent) also say this about the court system.