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Zardari fares poorly, Kayani more popular: poll

Kaira says survey based on presumptions

53 pc Pakistanis see India as biggest threat

Nawaz popularity rating 71pc
WASHINGTON: Only one in five Pakistanis view their president, Asif Ali Zardari, favourably while the country’s army chief gets a more positive rating, according to a new opinion poll released Thursday.

The US-based Pew Research Center said of about 2,000 adults interviewed in Pakistan in April, only 20 per cent saw Zardari positively, down from 64 per cent in a poll two years ago. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.

The poll also looked at Pakistanis views of the United States, with most of these findings released last month. It showed just 17 per cent of Pakistanis had a favourable view of America despite massive efforts by the Obama administration to improve ties with its ally. The US has given billions in aid to Islamabad to secure its help in fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The poll of Pakistanis’ views of their own officials showed that in contrast to Zardari’s ratings, Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Kayani had a 61 per cent favourability score. Ninety-four per cent of Pakistanis said the military had a good impact on their country.

Zardari’s prime rival, ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, had a 71 per cent favourability rating, according to the poll, which also said few Pakistanis were happy with the overall state of their nation and 78 per cent saw the economic situation as bad.

However, the Taliban and al-Qaeda remained unpopular among Pakistanis with 65 percent viewing the Taliban negatively and 53 per cent feeling that way about al-Qaeda. Pakistanis had mixed views about the extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai. Only 35 per cent of respondents had an unfavourable view of LeT.

Pakistanis also had serious concerns about long time rival India, with 53 per cent of respondents seeing its neighbour as the biggest threat to Pakistan. The US-led war in neighbouring Afghanistan was also widely opposed by Pakistanis with nearly two-thirds – 65 per cent – wanting US and Nato troops to leave as soon as possible.

According to another report, Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the US based survey report cannot measure the popularity of any political leader as it is based only on presumptions.

In his comments on the survey report, the minister said the popularity of a political leader could only be judged through elections. He said Zardari was an elected president and the PPP was the largest party in the National Assembly.

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