Musharraf is criticised in survey
BBC News

An international opinion poll of Pakistanis suggests widespread public opposition to President Musharraf’s re-election as president.

Most people are also critical of the imposition of the state of emergency.

The poll was carried out by the US-based International Republican Institute (IRI).

Meanwhile the president’s lawyers say that he will soon lift the state of emergency, but only after ensuring that he cannot be brought before a court.

Public anger
The IRI say that their field workers interviewed more than 3,500 adults across Pakistan in what was the first broad survey of public opinion since President Musharraf declared a state of emergency on 3 November.

It suggests widespread public anger about the measures taken by him.

More than 70% of those questioned said they did not support the President’s re-election for another five year term.

Two-thirds said they wanted him to resign.

There was also strong opposition to the state of emergency itself – 70% of the people questioned said it should not have been declared.

A consistent majority – always more than 70% – opposed each of the main restrictions imposed by the state of emergency.

These include the suspension of the constitution, the ban on political rallies, the detention of the former Supreme Court judges and the curbs on the media.

Two-thirds of people surveyed said they thought the president’s reason for the state of emergency was not to fight terrorism but to stop the Supreme Court from over-turning his re-election.

Important steps
The president does still command some support but from a minority of about a quarter to a third.

The BBC’s Jill McGivering in Islamabad says that this snapshot of opinion is already slightly out of date.

The opinions were sampled in November – after the imposition of the state of emergency – but before President Musharraf took other important steps such as standing down as head of the army and confirming that elections would go ahead in January.

It was also completed before he said that would end the state of emergency on 15 December.

In a separate development, the president has formalised arrangements made last month to alter the constitution to ensure that decisions made during his term of office will be immune from legal challenges.

The president has conceded that measures he took to purge the judiciary, imprison political opponents and restrain the media were unconstitutional.

But he argues they were necessary to prevent political chaos and give the authorities more power to act against Islamic militants.

The president is expected to ensure the immunity measures are in place before he lifts the state of emergency.

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