Pakistanis more gloomy about prospects – poll

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistanis are becoming increasingly pessimistic about prospects for their country and for themselves, a U.S.-based group that promotes democracy found in a poll.

The gloom is sapping support for a civilian government led by the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the International Republican Institute (IRI) said.

IRI said it randomly selected 3,500 adult men and women from 50 districts across the country and questioned them from Oct. 15 to Oct. 30.

“When asked if they felt the country was headed in the right or wrong direction, 88 percent responded wrong direction while 11 percent said right direction,” IRI said in a report on its findings.

The survey found a large spike in pessimism over personal economic futures with 59 percent believing their economic well-being would worsen over the coming year, compared with 46 percent in a June survey.

“The Pakistan People’s Party-led government is bearing the brunt of this discontent,” IRI said, referring to Bhutto’s party.

Seventy-six percent of people responded negatively when asked how the government had performed on issues important to them, compared with 21 percent who responded positively.

Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, become president in September after former army chief Pervez Musharraf stepped down.

Respondents gave Zardari an approval rating of 19 percent, while 63 percent said they disapproved of the job he was doing, IRI said in its findings, released on Friday.

Attitudes towards religious extremism were unchanged from the group’s previous poll in June, with 60 percent of people saying it was a serious problem.

The poll, conducted before militant attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, also found an increase to 51 from 45 percent in the number of people who saw the Taliban and al Qaeda operating in Pakistan as a serious problem.
Sixty-six percent of people agreed that terrorists were not true Muslims because their actions were forbidden by the Koran, IRI said.

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