LAHORE – An International Republican Institute survey has given the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) a clear edge over other main political parties in the next general elections as well as in terms of their popularity.
While the PML-N describes the findings of the survey as the mark of its better performance and good governance, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf turn down the same, contending that these were not based on facts and ground realities.
Senator Pervez Rasheed of the PML-N says the study vindicates the efficiency and good governance of his party-led government in the Punjab. “It gives hope to the masses beset by problems and difficulties at present,” he said while adding that his party was committed to serving the people and continuing with its people-friendly projects.
The PML-N, added Rasheed, worked hard to rise to the occasion; it would sweep the next elections on the basis of its performance. Despite the PTI and PPP’s opposition, increasing support for the PML-N is simply amazing.
Naveed Chaudhry, coordinator to President Asif Ali Zardari, does not subscribe to the findings, and says such surveys do not matter in the Pakistani politics, as they can neither affect voters nor predict the popularity graph truly. He says the survey is good for the consumption of those parties whose politics banks on such like means. “The PPP is one which believes in the popular strength which it would amply prove in the election by routing all its opponents.”
To a question on the validity of such surveys before elections during the Musharraf era, he said, it was the martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto that created the difference in the elections. As of today, he said, the popularity graph and rating of President Asif Ali Zardari have elevated after his unity call and address at the forum of the United Nations.
Naveed, however, admits that difficulties do exist for the ruling party to defend its position when the country was faced with terrorism and regional issues etc.
Despite all that, he contends, the PPP gave provincial autonomy, ensured independence of the institutions and protected interests of the country at every level, and through the BISP and its Waseela-e-Haq and other programmes provided aid for the poor which all account for foundations for progress, development and prosperity of the country. PTI spokesman Shafqat Mahmood acknowledges ups and downs in the party, and states that this was not unique but something that every party comes across.
He says that for better positioning of the party in the next elections, the group is being reognanised at the lower level that may be a factor of the present phase; otherwise it (PTI) is doing well and its popularity is rising.
Tallat Naqvi, secretary information PTI Punjab Women Wing, categorically denies that the party is losing popularity or its vote bank has been shrinking. She says vicissitudes come to every party and the PTI was not concerned over what the survey said about it.
She says the hectic political activity of the PTI speaks volumes about its popularity and the fact that how much it had attraction for the masses. As to the survey in question, she says, its veracity depends on the method it was conducted, the environment and the class of people surveyed. “The PTI is a party which strongly believes in principles and if somebody quits the party for not having harmony with the PTI stand, it does not mean the party is losing popularity rather it proves the fact that it is not ready to compromise on its stand.”
The IRI survey has recorded 22.6 per cent reduction in the vote bank of Tehrik-e-Insaf, despite the fact that it has gained better position in two provinces.
It has indicated an increase of 3.7 per cent in the vote bank of the PML-N. As many as 33 per cent urban areas’ citizens were asked these questions who belonged to various age categories and segments of the society, while 67 per cent persons belonging to rural areas were asked directly as to which party would they vote during the next general elections.
In their answers, 28 per cent supported the PML-N, 24 per cent PTI and 14 per cent PPP. Overall 43 per cent were inclined to vote for the PML-N in the next elections.
With reduction of 22.2 per cent of the PPP, 7 per cent supported the PPP while Q-League was chosen by only 2 per cent. About 21 per cent people say they do not know which party they should vote.