Survey: Musharraf resignation would improve stability in Pakistan

Other News Materials 14 February 2008 17:41 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The majority of Pakistanis believe that security and stability would improve in their strife-torn nation if embattled President Pervez Musharraf resigned, a survey released Thursday said.

The poll, carried out by the UK-based GlobeScan for the BBC's Urdu Service, said the country was nearly divided on whether crucial parliamentary elections on Monday would be free and fair, with 46 per cent of respondents saying yes and 44 per cent saying no.

Pakistan's political opposition, which has double-digit leads over Musharraf's ruling party in other independent polls, has threatened mass street protests if the elections were rigged.

Musharraf assured the public on Thursday that the polls could be completely transparent and warned opposition parties against protesting if they lost.

The survey was the latest blow to Musharraf, whose popularity is at its lowest since he seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999. The country is beset by a year-long political crisis and dozens of suicide bombings blamed on Islamic extremists bent on toppling his government.

"While many Western governments have supported President Musharraf in the belief that he offers the only hope of a stable Pakistan, average citizens in the country disagree with this assessment in large numbers," GlobeScan President Doug Miller told the BBC, citing survey results.

The survey was conducted among 1,476 Pakistani adults from the country's four provinces. It did not list a margin of error.

The poll results showed that 64 per cent of respondents said security and stability would improve if Musharraf resigned, with just 25 per cent saying the situation would worsen if he did so.

Only 29 per cent said Musharraf's controversial re-election in October 2007 to another five-year term was valid, while 49 per cent say it was invalid.

The Supreme Court approved Musharraf's re-election after its chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, and several other judges were sacked after he declared a state of emergency on November 3 and suspended the constitution.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents disapproved of Chaudhry's removal and want the incoming parliament to restore him, the survey said.

On Monday, a survey by the US-based International Republican Institute said that 75 per cent of voters wanted Musharraf to immediately resign.

That poll also said that the Pakistan People's Party of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was supported by 50 per cent of voters, but the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Musharraf's political vehicle, had the support of only 14 per cent.

On the question of who might be behind Bhutto's assassination, 39 per cent of respondents to the BBC poll said the country's security agencies or people linked to them were responsible.

Musharraf has claimed that Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander with alleged links to al-Qaeda, ordered Bhutto's death in a gun and suicide bombing attack on December 27 as she left a campaign rally in the city of Rawalpindi.