Media, SC get high respect from public in survey
ISLAMABAD: The media, Supreme Court and provincial autonomy have earned the general public applause in ‘Public Verdict on Democracy 2008-2013’ —a recent PILDAT-Gallup survey conducted in February 2013.
However, the general public, after having five years of democracy, does not see credible prospects of fair elections. More than half of the population thinks the quality of democratic governance has deteriorated during the PPP’s five years in power since 2008.
The survey did not touch the performance of the PPP government and its allies saying that it would be a separate exercise. Instead, the focus of the survey was on the performance of democracy.
It delineated 10 indicators which dealt with the process of democracy, either directly or indirectly. The 10 indicators began with the mother of democratic governance in Pakistan i.e. parliament. The public verdict was sought on parliament’s effectiveness in performing its constitutional role.
Besides reprimanding the prospects of fair elections, the Public Verdict on Democracy has also voted negative regarding the ‘law observing civil executive; respect for human rights and protection of national sovereignty.’
Strangely, the effectiveness of the cabinet, democratic checks on military and effectiveness of parliament have been appreciated by the public in its verdict. The poll is based on a nationally representative survey of over 9,500 men (approximately 5,000) and women (approximately 4,500) who served as the jury for this judgment.
The jury comprised a cross-section of Pakistanis, most of them from the villages (approximately 6,700, others from towns, cities and large cities (approximately 2,800). Many of them were illiterate or lowly educated (50%), while others had middle or high school education and some were college and university educated. They came from the Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan.
The sample provides a nationally representative cross-section of various ages, education, linguistic and socioeconomic segments of the citizens of Pakistan. They were interviewed face to face in their homes across the country during January and February 2013.
Overall, 53 percent of Pakistanis think the quality of democratic governance has deteriorated during the past five years, while 31% say it has improved and 15% say it didn’t change at all.Some 62 % said the independent media had improved, 19 % voted it had deteriorated, while 17 % were of the view that the media had not changed during the last five years of democracy.
Fifty-eight percent Pakistanis have voted in favour of an effective Supreme Court, 26% think its performance has deteriorated during the last five years of democracy, while 14% said its performance had not changed since 2008.
Provincial autonomy: 44% voted in favour of provincial autonomy, while 30% said during the past five years the performance of provinces after autonomy had deteriorated while 23% were of the view that nothing had changed.
Regarding the effective cabinet during the five years of democracy, 45% Pakistanis think its performance was good, 33% voted that it could not perform well, while 20% were of the view that there was no difference in the cabinet’s performance since 2008. Forty-three percent said the ‘democratically checked military’ performance was well during last five years, 33% said military’s performance deteriorated, while 19% were of the view that the military remained unchanged during the last five years of democracy.
Effective parliament: 44% voted that parliament was effective since 2008, 37% said it was not, while 18% opted that it’s performance remained unchanged in the last five years of democracy.
Thirty-eight percent Pakistanis believe that the performance of ‘law-abiding executive’ was below standard, 37% said its performance had improved since 2008, while 22% said the executive did not change during the last five years. Respect for human rights in Pakistan also deteriorated ever since 2008 as the survey says 38% Pakistanis believe that the condition of human rights touched low ebb, 36% said things had improved, while 24 percent said nothing had changed. Thirty-six percent said they do not see prospects for fair elections, 31% do see light at the end of the tunnel, while 25% say things are the same as they were in 2008.
Regarding ‘externally encroached sovereignty’: 47% said that it had deteriorated, 27% believed that it had improved, while 22% are of the view that since 2008 the ‘externally encroached sovereignty’ remained unchanged.