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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Mar 6, 2013

Opinion survey: ?Unemployment, energy shortage biggest issues?

There
is a consensus among Pakistanis that unemployment and energy shortage are the
two biggest economic issues facing the country. They are also equally opposed
to drone strikes and the presence of foreign militants, according to the
findings of a survey unveiled on Tuesday.

“Political
Barometer: A Study of Socio-Political Preferences of People of Pakistan,” an
opinion survey, jointly conducted by Herald Pakistan and Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in 54 districts was launched at a local
hotel.

SDPI
Executive Director Abid Sulehri said the survey was an academic exercise to
gauge the level of consensus on issues such as law and order, corruption,
poverty, extremism, education, health, economic and foreign policies. Aiming to
reach about 1,000 respondents, stratified sampling was used to integrate
various demographic elements into the survey which was carried out in 52
districts and two tribal agencies by 100 interviewers.

Sulehri
said 29 per cent of registered voters intended to vote for PPP whereas 24.7 per
cent pledged support for PML-N and 20.3 per cent for PTI. Survey findings
indicate PTI  derives support from all ages, dispelling the notion that
its vote bank is concentrated in the younger generation, he added. “Looking at
these results and voting histories, the PML-N’s vote bank appears to be
stagnant while the PPP’s seems to have declined significantly, whose voters
appear to be shifting towards PTI.”

Around
66 per cent of the respondents believe Balochistan gets the least attention from
the federal government, while 42 per cent of respondents believe
interprovincial relations are disharmonious, but they are divided about the
creation of new provinces.

SDPI
Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar shared socioeconomic trends of the survey
and said majority of the respondents supported increased spending on education
and health while making a substantial cut in the defence budget. They also
termed the military as the strongest institution, while the judiciary came
second.

He
said 57 per cent strongly opposed drone strikes while they considered the
presence of foreign militants on Pakistani soil as a violation of sovereignty.
China was the most popular country and the respondents also called for stronger
ties with Islamic and Saarc countries with 88 per cent and 74 per cent support
respectively, he added.

Sulehri
said society was getting more radicalised and it could be gauged from the fact
that 53 per cent want the government to promote hijab, 30 percent consider
honour killing acceptable. Around 26 per cent want the government to ban women
working alongside men and 19 per cent want a ban on women contesting elections
and taking parts in sports, he added.