PEW survey rates Nawaz as most popular leader over Imran

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (INP): In a survey by the PEW research center, 64% of the population has ‘favorable opinion’ about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the most popular leader over Imran Khan who has lost popularity considerably during the past two years by 17 points.

In the American think-tank’s recent survey conducted from 15th May to 17th April 2014, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s rating stands at 64 points, and 75% of Punjab’s population supports him.

On the other hand, Imran Khan stands at merely 35 points in the countrywide survey even though his popularity stood at 70% in 2013 whereas 24% of the people have a negative opinion about him.

Currently 25 % of Pakistan’s population thinks that the country is going in the right direction whereas is was merely 8% last year, according to the survey. 37 % of Pakistan’s population thinks that the country’s economy is improving whereas it was just 17% last year and 36 % of the people think Pakistan’s economy is going in the right direction.

Thousands of protesters have been camped out for more than a week within earshot of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s house in Islamabad demanding that he resign from office. Some have carried stick figures of Nawaz Sharif wearing a noose, creating a global image that the prime minister is embattled less than 15 months after he returned to office for his third term.

However, the survey of public sentiment in Pakistan reveals that the ongoing demonstrations are hardly reflective of the views of most Pakistanis.

About four in ten residents now have confidence in Pakistan’s economy, compared to just 17 percent who felt that way last year. Moreover, Pew notes that 36 percent of residents are optimistic that the economy will improve over the next year, twice as many who felt that way compared to last year.

Without question, Pakistan remains a long way from being able to call itself a happy, prosperous nation. It’s a country where the lights can still be out for as much as 16 hours a day, polio is known as a real disease and not just a vaccine, and the US dollar has a 100-to-1 advantage over the Pakistani rupee.

Yet the fact that the poll  finds that a quarter of voters now think the country is going in the right direction highlights a lifeline for Nawaz Sharif as he tries to survive the political storm created by Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri. Last year, according to Pew, just 8 percent of Pakistanis said the country was going in the right direction.

“Pakistanis are more satisfied with the direction of their country than they have been in six years,” Pew notes.

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