New Poll: ‘PPP and PML-N leading poll race’

‘PPP and PML-N leading poll race’
* US-based group’s survey shows 58pc respondents suspect Musharraf supporters of killing BB
* Support for Osama, Taliban waning
By Khalid Hasan, Daily Times, February 11, 2008

WASHINGTON: A new survey has shown that 62 percent of respondents support the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), while only 12 percent are in favour of the PML-Quaid (PML-Q).

The survey by Terror Free Tomorrow, whose governing board includes Republican presidential front-runner John McCain and former congressman Lee Hamiliton, who chaired the 9/11 commission, was conducted in all of Pakistan’s four provinces from January 19-29 this year. The total sample was made up of 1,157 men and women with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

The sample showed that while 36.7 percent supported the PPP, 25.3 percent favoured the PML-N, and only 12 percent backed the PML-Q.

While the findings are being kept under wraps, there are reports that the survey has come to the conclusion that if the February 18 elections are free and fair, the two major opposition parties would make major gains. Some have mentioned a figure of two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, but others have expressed doubt that the pickings by the PPP and PML-N will be that great.

Suspected: As many as 58 percent were of the view that agencies or parties aligned with President Pervez Musharraf were responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, while only seven percent believed that Al Qaeda or the Taliban had killed the PPP leader.

Survey shows only 24 percent of Pakistanis approved of Bin Laden compared with 46 percent during a similar survey in August, AP adds. Backing for Al Qaeda fell to 18 percent from 33 percent, while support for the Taliban dropped by half to 19 percent from 38 percent, the results said.

Also, in a sharp rebuke to Musharraf, whose standing has slumped since he tried to fire the Supreme Court’s chief justice last March — 70 percent of voters think he should quit immediately.. Despite Musharraf’s counter-terror alliance with Washington and calls for Pakistan to plot a course of “enlightened moderation”, Pakistanis remain distrustful of the president and his authorities, especially the shadowy intelligence agencies. Only one percent of Pakistani voters would cast their ballots in favour of Al Qaeda if it were running in parliamentary elections, the survey results said, adding that the Taliban would get three percent. The International Republican Institute is due to issue a survey based on a sample taken in the latter half of January to assess the trends which would determine the February 18 election’s outcome. The report is due to be released at a news conference from the institute’s headquarters in Washington.

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