Pakistani Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, recently found himself in the centre of controversy after the Chief of the National Accountability Bureau, Fasih Bokhari, refused a Supreme Court order for his arrest. Using YouGov’s online panel in Pakistan, we set to find out what people felt about the arrest order and perceptions of the Pakistani government in general. The following results are based on the responses of 1009 people currently living in Pakistan, 950 of who are Pakistani nationals.
Almost all respondents were aware that the Pakistan Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf as part of a corruption case. Nearly all respondents also believe that Prime Minister Ashraf is guilty of corruption during his tenure as Minister of Water and Power, and 94 percent of respondents agree with the Supreme Court’s move to order his arrest, with 83 percent strongly agreeing.
Fasih Bokhari claimed that there was not enough evidence to carry out the arrest of Prime Minister Ashraf, stating that the investigating officers “were not able to bring incriminating evidence but relied on oral statements which are not warranted in the court of Law”. Three-fourths of respondents disagree, asserting that there was enough evidence to arrest the Prime Minster.
It appears that refusing the arrest order had a negative impact on the National Accountability Bureau; with just over three-quarters stating that it has lost credibility by refusing to arrest the Prime Minister. Furthermore, three-fourths believe that Fasih Bokhari should step down as Chief from the National Accountability Bureau, with over half saying they strongly agree.
Just over one-third believes that the Pakistan Supreme Court currently holds a lot of power. However, more than four-fifths of respondents believe that it should have more power than it presently holds.
The arrest order of Prime Minister Ashraf led to thousands taking part in anti-government protests in Islamabad. Around half support those protesting whilst two-fifths do not. Unsurprisingly, 85 percent believe that Pakistan is in political crisis, with over half of respondents strongly agreeing with this.
Half of respondents do not believe that the government reacted to the protests in a good manner and 58 percent believes that Prime Minister Ashraf will be forced to step down before the next elections. Over three-quarters agree that the Prime Minister should step down in order to restore stability in Pakistan.
Further escalating tensions, Kamran Faisal, an officer who had been investigating the case against the Prime Minister was recently found dead. According to initial reports, Kamran Faisal committed suicide, however, police are said to be investigating all possibilities. Nearly all respondents were aware of this case, however, less than ten percent believe it is a case of suicide. Nearly three-fourths of respondents were aware of the case strongly disagreed that he had committed suicide, and 87 percent say that the timing of his death is suspicious. Three-fourths agree that it is likely to be a tactic used to stall the case against the Prime Minister.
Nearly all respondents are aware of Muhammed Tahir al-Qadri, who recently led thousands of organized protestors to Islamabad in demand of electoral reform and an end to corruption. However, high awareness does not translate into high support, with 60 percent stating that they do not support him. Half believe that it is likely that Muhammed Tahir al-Qadri will seek a political seat, while only 37 percent believe that he has good intentions for Pakistan. Sixty-two percent do not think that he is likely to play a large role in the future of Pakistan.
Political leaders in Pakistan have immunity from prosecution while in office. One-quarter of respondents agree that political leaders should have immunity compared with 67 percent who disagree with this.
Prime Minister Ashraf is not the first Pakistani leader to be accused of corruption. In the late 1990’s Swiss judicial authorities were investigating allegations of corruption against now Pakistani President Zardari. Although these cases were closed under an amnesty law, Prime Minister Ashraf, under intense pressure from the Supreme Court, recently made a request to the Swiss authorities to reopen the case against the President. Nearly all respondents claim to be in support of the case against the Zardari, and 89 percent support the Prime Ministers move to request to reopen the case. Eighty-three percent believe that President Zardari should step down in order to restore stability in Pakistan and just over half believe that President Zardari will be forced to step down before the next elections.
While corruption is seen as a significant issue in Pakistan by almost all respondents, the majority of respondents also see energy shortages 83 percent, unemployment 80 percent, poor education 78 percent, poverty 70 percent and poor healthcare 64 percent as significant issues. Just less than half of respondents view attacks by Islamic militants as a substantial issue in Pakistan, and one-third cite Pakistan’s relationship with India as a significant issue.
Among those who see corruption as a significant issue, nearly all rank it as a ‘very important’ issue in Pakistan. Although less than half view attacks by Islamic militants as a significant issue in Pakistan, 78 percent of those who do rank it a ‘very important’ issue.
In all cases, the majority of respondents are negative about the government’s response to the issues they find important. Respondents are most positive about the government’s response to Pakistan’s relationship with India (35 percent rated the response as ‘good’) and the government’s response to attacks by Islamic militants, which 15 percent rates as ‘good’. On the other hand, nearly all respondents believe the government’s response has been ‘bad’ in terms of energy shortages, unemployment, corruption and improving education and healthcare.
The survey was conducted using the YouGov Online Panel and all questionnaires were completed between the 23st – 29th January 2013. The results are based on a total sample of 1009 respondents currently living in Pakistan; 950 of who are Pakistani nationals. The YouGov panel is broadly representative of the online population within Pakistan.