Nawaz still enjoys significant public support: PEW survey

Published: August 27, 2014
Imran Khan not as popular as and Nawaz Sharif, PEW survey finds.

Imran Khan not as popular as and Nawaz Sharif, PEW survey finds.

Even as thousands of protesters, respectively led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, descended on Islamabad against the Nawaz Sharif led government, a survey by the Pew Research Centre shows that the under fire premier enjoys significant public support.

According to the report, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif enjoys 64% favourable opinion, slightly lower than the 66% he enjoyed just a few weeks before the May 2013 elections. In contrast, 32% viewed him unfavourably.

These are among the major findings from the latest survey in Pakistan by the Pew Research Center, based on face-to-face interviews conducted with 1,203 respondents from April 15 to May 7, 2014. The sample covers approximately 82% of the country’s adult population.

Imran Khan, who has been demanding that the premier resign to pave way for a transparent investigation into the reports of rigging in the 2013 elections, was seen favourably as well with 53% reviews against 24% negative reviews. However, the PTI chief’s ratings have slipped by 17% since elections last May.

The mood surrounding the current political and economic situation in the country, while less than happy, it is more positive than in recent years. While only 25% of the respondents were satisfied with the way things are in Pakistan, this is more than 8% who felt that way in 2013. Those who were optimistic about the economy have more than doubled since last year, rising from 17% to 37%. And 36% expect the economy to improve further in the next 12 months.

Pakistan, which has seen four military led governments, 87% of the respondents believe that the army is having a good influence on the nation. Up from 79% near the May 2013 elections.

The poll found little support for extremist groups in Pakistan, against whom the army launched an operation in June. Only 8% gave the Taliban a positive rating and just 12% said they have a favorable opinion of al Qaeda.

India still the biggest enemy

When asked to rate the greatest threat facing their country , 51% of Pakistanis pointed towards India.

Roughly seven-in-ten (71%) expressed an unfavorable view of India, while only 13% give it a positive rating.

At the time of the survey, conducted before results for the recent Indian national elections were announced, 62% of Pakistanis did not know enough about India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say whether they had confidence in his ability to do the right thing in world affairs. Just over a third (36%) said they have little or no confidence in Modi to do the right thing in world affairs, while only 1% expressed confidence in Modi.

US still viewed unfavourably

Negative views of the United States and Obama still prevail in Pakistan. Only 14% give the US a favorable rating, and just 7% have confidence in President Barack Obama.

Still, the percentage of Pakistanis voicing a negative views of the US and Obama has declined slightly over the last few years.

Very few Pakistanis give President Barack Obama a positive review. Only 7% say they have confidence that Obama will do the right thing in world affairs. While half (52%) of all respondents lack confidence in the American leader, unchanged from 2013, but that perception was down from a peak of 68% in 2011. Fully 41% offer no opinion about Obama.

Drone strikes remain unpopular too. Two-in-three Pakistanis oppose US drone attacks, while just 3% approve and 30% offer no opinion.  Two-thirds of Pakistanis also believe that drone strikes kill too many innocent people, and only 21% think they are necessary to defend the country from extremist groups. Roughly four-in-ten (41%) say the drone strikes are being conducted without the approval of Pakistan’s government.

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Reader Comments (66)

  • Fawad
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:18PM

    So in 2013 Nawaz and Imran has almost same popularity, but election results were different. Dhandli proved.


  • Aamer Khawaja
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:20PM

    Any PTI supporter who would most likely disagree with this survey & stamp ‘lifafa’ on this, I would like to kindly request that you should take a deep breath & think about it, is it not true that IK has put this dent on himself especially in context to the language he has used recently?

    I fear that the next survey will show an even further decline in his rating.


  • Aamer Khawaja
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:24PM

    6% is not almost same. And popularity doesn’t necessarily translate into votes. Try & check the popularity of Ali Zafar, most probably it will be higher than both, but that doesnt mean he will get votes


  • Emran
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:31PM

    This survey conducted between april and may is not latest in current situation as public opinion is changing day by day. Irrelevant in current scenario.


  • Sheheryar Khan
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:33PM

    In this world, there are lies, big lies and statistics.


  • buzz
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:41PM

    I laugh at these surveys. A sample size of a few thousand does not translate the opinion of 100s of millions of people.

    The only survey worth anything is a free and fair election. Something that Mr. Popularity is afraid of.


  • aadil
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:45PM

    i do hope that after this survey’s result…PTI CHIEF N other protesters will stop doing any further propaganda against govt.


    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:47PM

    Dawn says:
    “Several areas, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir were excluded for security reasons as were areas of instability in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan province.” Pakhtun population of KPK and Balochistan ignored. 53% understood.
    Though Imran must have lost some support.


  • naeem khan
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:50PM

    more heart burns for PTI trolls


  • sabi
    Aug 27, 2014 - 10:59PM

    Survey must also tell that IK is exposed to full length so noch much so that his constant u-turns has transformed him from fast bowler in cricket to ‘spinner ‘ in politics.


  • Z
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:09PM

    Jealous PTI trolls. Haters will always hate. NS continue with the good work. God Speed.


  • Shaam
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:10PM

    This is as clear as mud.

    The survey does not show any demographic information or how the survey was conducted, so basically it’s meaningless as shown


  • Aug 27, 2014 - 11:10PM

    Great! Quickly resign Mr. PM, you are going to be on the saddle again. If you don’t do it we have the right to assume PEW is bailing you out in the hour of need.


  • Ahmed - Karachi
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:13PM

    Funny how you can base an entire country’s opinion on a sample of 1000 people.


  • Mehreen
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:13PM

    Probably, the research people chose an inappropriate sample representative of illiterate people and by illiterate I mean illiterate enough to be supporting or liking people who are without any doubt corrupt.

    @sheheryar khan yes these could well be forged statistics. PML N can buy anything and everyone is for sale in our country!

    Khair. My message to everyone: IK is the hope we have, let’s give him a chance, Pakistan can’t do any worse than right now so nothing to loose! Think!


  • sabi
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:24PM

    And NS hasn’t shaken the confidence of people by not only containing pseudo leaders but successfully exposed their true faces.Civil disobedience call and asking overseas Pakistanis to send their money through hundi is enough proof that they are enemies of state.Pakistan army has broken the back bone of terrorist in mountain while on political front democratic forces are breaking their political wing on the streets of Pakistan.


  • sammy
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:28PM

    go nawaz go- end of story


  • Shahzaib
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:32PM

    I am pretty sure our current president would have popularity negative numbers


  • Jamil
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:41PM

    Express Tribune is becoming day by day biased. I think nawaz paid them too.


  • Really..
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:41PM

    The survey took place between April 15 to May 7. This is complete crap. You cannot base the opinions of the general public RIGHT NOW on this survey. The events that have occurred since late July (2 Months after this survey) could have easily changed public opinions.


  • gp65
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:51PM

    “So in 2013 Nawaz and Imran has almost same popularity, but election results were different. Dhandli proved. “

    In 2013 there was a gap of 6% in popularity of Nawaz and Imran nationwide. In a first past the goal post system, people who have votes but not seats happens all the time.

    In India BSP got ZERO seats in 2014 Indian elections. TMC and AIADMK got 30+ seats. Yet BSP had more votes than TMC and AIADMK.

    People who have very focused support base can get more seats for the same voteshare compared to someone whose voteshare is more diffused.

    According to your election, Imran got more votes in KPK and SInd (particularly Karachi) than PML-N and much less than PML-N in Punjab. That would be consistent with such results.

    As such it does not prove dhandhli.

    Also no one claims there was no dhandhli whatsoever. What people are disputing is Imran’s allegation that the interim government of Najam Sethi, EC and former CJ colluded to systematically rig votes in favor of Nawaz.


  • Silent Majority
    Aug 27, 2014 - 11:57PM

    The silent majority supports NS.
    Another point, support for NS seems to concentrate in constituency, whereas support for IK is more diffuse. IK would fare better is the members of NA are “elected” on the basis of proportionate vote on party basis through out Pakistan. He should press for electoral reforms on that basis.
    If a direct election is held for the PM, NS would still be ahead of IK, albeit with a small percentage difference.


  • Anonymous
    Aug 28, 2014 - 12:05AM

    What utter rubbish!

    Survey was conducted in April – May, 2014 and this is August. Talk about something relevant like the Azadi March which is happening now; not something that happened 3 months ago when the domain was very different.


  • Alter Ego
    Aug 28, 2014 - 12:07AM

    @Sheheryar Khan:
    and the only ones who tell the truth are IK and TUQ , yes ??


  • Aug 28, 2014 - 12:12AM

    @Fawad: Ever heard of something called first-past-the-post? Look it up and educate yourself. Pakistan is in this mess because of just that kind of PTI reasoning!


  • Parvez
    Aug 28, 2014 - 12:16AM

    The poll is not surprising…..the fact that ET chooses to give this as news in end August when Nawaz stands discredited, is surprising.


  • Aug 28, 2014 - 12:46AM

    America must do more to win the hearts of the Pakistani people. Droning innocents is not the American way and has caused much undue contempt. Obama must coordinate ALL military activity in the region with the Pakistani military. Then, he must give Pakistan Favored Nation Trading Status. That is the least he can do for a country who continues to spill its Muslim blood fighting the Taliban. One does not place tariffs on friends who die for you.


  • Blithe
    Aug 28, 2014 - 1:34AM

    Facebook has a bigger sampling error , where PTI abuse and fester . NS is the king has a lot of closet supporters – and this is a fact.


  • Grace
    Aug 28, 2014 - 1:51AM

    @Mehreen: Please do call voters like me illiterate; How would you like it if I said people who support Imran Khan and late night party protests are illiterate? PML N supporters are also allowed to have an opinion and support Nawaz Sharif if we like.
    @Fawad: I think that the immature followers of PTI and Tahirul Qadri should take a note of this poll. They also ignore he western reports that say despite minor irregularities, elections were largely fair and free. Pakistan cannot allow bands of protesters to dictate how to run a country. I hope Nawaz Sharif stands firm in front of these people who are afraid of Pakistan’s economic development. The silent majority of Pakistanis support the Sharifs because they want development plain and simple. We want more nuclear plants, motorways, metrobus and rail links.


  • Imran
    Aug 28, 2014 - 2:35AM

    Aint this exactly what IK is doing? ;) @Ahmed – Karachi:


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 28, 2014 - 2:42AM

    Political party and its leader are two very important factors but the most important factor in parliamentary system is candidate. If he is not electable, party leader’s charisma doesn’t work. The reasons of PTI’s defeat in previous election were numerous but its boycott policy of elections from 2008 to 2013, not fielding more electable and ignoring rural politics altogether were main reasons.


  • Nzaar
    Aug 28, 2014 - 2:43AM

    The article incorrectly gives the impression that this survey is fresh. It was conducted in Apr-May. People will agree that things changed massively after the model town incident on June 17.


  • Hamood
    Aug 28, 2014 - 2:44AM

    US trying to help brother Nawaz by issuing a 3 month old survey? Its a survey that is 3 months too late.


  • Ch Akif Ajmal
    Aug 28, 2014 - 3:00AM

    Dear Friend,
    IF this survey does not reflects the reality on ground then bringing few thousand people does not justify that Imran Khan “Father of Nation” is most popular and elections were rigged.
    Imran fears that if Nawaz will be allowed to work for 5 years then he would delivered so much that it would be impossible for him to win in decades to come.
    What fear does Imran has, why should not he work for Electoral reforms and wait for 2018.????
    If Imran is so good why does he prove him KPK????
    Can you answer this with logic????
    IK and Qadri are moved by “Hidden force” as it was did to overthrow Bhutto..


  • Muhammad
    Aug 28, 2014 - 3:38AM

    Survey of 1203 people represents entire Pakistan?


  • Sexton Blake
    Aug 28, 2014 - 4:37AM

    There was a huge electoral fraud in the last election. IK pointed this out and for some ridiculous reason many low-functioning people are continually doing put-downs on him. Unbelievable.


  • Humza
    Aug 28, 2014 - 4:40AM

    @sammy: I think both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri should go home – end of story. The majority reposed their trust in Nawaz Sharif whether you like it or not, He has earned the mandate to rule. What do you not understand about this basic fact of democracy anywhere?


  • Careful reader
    Aug 28, 2014 - 5:12AM

    Fake poll with flawed questions flawed polling. Yet another effort by USA to support nawaz sharif as things look bad for him.


  • drunkstar
    Aug 28, 2014 - 6:52AM

    Nawaz shareef is waaay better than mr “i want pm seat”


  • drunkstar
    Aug 28, 2014 - 6:55AM

    bro…you are right…poor man has got nothing better to do than paying everyone to speak in his favour..


  • Sharjeel Ashraf
    Aug 28, 2014 - 7:06AM

    I think everyone should know that the survey was conducted on 1203 people.
    So the sentiments can vary on masses. Plus areas of KPK, Gilgit and AJK were not interviewed.
    Now decide for yourself!


  • Salman Hasan
    Aug 28, 2014 - 7:11AM

    These surveys means nothing. Survey company picks up a sample which hardly represents the entire country. It’s another way of US endorsing their man. In the US Obama was down similar points in most of the surveys but won the elections 2008 with a landslide. These surveys can never be accurate. Also note when was this survey taken. It was taken between April 15 to May 7 2014. Don’t forget Model Town tragedy took place on June 17th, and Imran’s campaign for vote count in 4 constituency was at peak during July. If surveys are conducted now, things will be quite shocking for PM. Bottom line thing is that election rigging is getting proven with every passing day.


  • Mirza
    Aug 28, 2014 - 7:33AM

    We Pakistanis do not believe in any research and surveys let alone by world class organizations. These surveys take a long time in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan where journalists are not safe especially if they are connected to the US. No survey would come out promptly to address the current issues and problems. Even the newspaper gives a few day old news. No research of any value is completed in days.
    If IK is less popular a few months ago that means he is not more popular that that now. This survey is a long term trend and cannot be taken as absolute but it is not totally false.
    The arrogance of PTI/IK supporters is alarming and defeatist. All they do is insult the opponents and call them illiterate fools. Yet Pakistan has great majority of these common people who are native son of the soil, born, live and die here. That is why IK loses all the time in the smaller cities of the two largest provinces.


  • Hornet
    Aug 28, 2014 - 9:17AM

    The Americans themselves consider the pew report as scrap so why should we take it so seriously. I am living in containerabad( Islamabad) and in my whole life i never came across anyone conducting such like surveys, and neither my family or friends ever came across such people. Strange isn’t it.


  • Naseem
    Aug 28, 2014 - 9:24AM

    @Ch Akif Ajmal: The Sharif’s have been ruling for almost 30 years. Should we give them any more time? Will they be able to deliver anything in the next 4 years?


  • Sara
    Aug 28, 2014 - 9:34AM

    If the Express Tribune were truly interested in informing their readers they should have informed them that the above statistics were only based on 1,203 face to face interviews, the full report states this….the population of Pakistan is around 200 million !!!
    Also it would be of public interest to know who the Pew Research Centre commissioned to conduct these interviews and where and when they took place, and lastly why were they published by the US at such a convenient time for the incumbent government???
    Investigative journalism please!!!Recommend

  • Junaid
    Aug 28, 2014 - 9:36AM

    The survey does not represent the entire country but the band of people in the dharnas , few thousand of them do. What a logic , straight from azadians as ususal


  • Salman Hasan
    Aug 28, 2014 - 10:14AM

    @Mirza: I agree without of the points you raised about IK not able dent any two major parties in rural areas. IK needs to realize that he cannot win without rural areas and that is 80% plus population if this country. He has to reach out to farmers and low income group to bring a big impact in his politics. ZAB was labeled as Awami leader because he talked about Haris, labour and poor community and their issues. In IK’s Dharnas I see majority of people are from metro towns. That gap has to be removed if he wants to win elections.


  • Aug 28, 2014 - 10:37AM

    Wow, its strange but I think it’ll not be acceptable for the PTI, as a general norm according to them every survay is influenced by Shareef Brothers. But its fact that many people have reservation over these protests as Pakistan economy is directlly affected.


  • Abrar R
    Aug 28, 2014 - 11:00AM

    Honestly I dont trust opinion polls. In a world where you can buy judges, what matter is it to purchase a poll. There was this other poll, cant remember the name, they had PMLn on its list of clients, proudly listed on the clientele page.


  • Pakistani
    Aug 28, 2014 - 11:46AM

    Sample size of 1200 and 3 months old survey!!


  • Anokha Ladla
    Aug 28, 2014 - 1:53PM

    Opinion polls, elections, votes, voters, parliament, judiciary, institutions, constitution, writers, political parties, politicians, media….everything is fake. The only genuine person in Pakistan is Imran Khan. If you don’t believe me tune on ARY and listen to Mubashar Luqman.


  • Asad
    Aug 28, 2014 - 3:35PM

    @Sheheryar Khan:
    And when it comes to PTI’s own popularity, everything is Truth, Clear Truth, and HAQ.


  • fakhre alam
    Aug 28, 2014 - 4:31PM

    hahaha what a joke. they still masses can be fooled with these fake surveysRecommend

  • sardarzaheer
    Aug 28, 2014 - 6:00PM

    These paid surveys wont work Mr. Sharif…Why a Survey firm will put her resources to gauge the public opinion for NS or IK with out being paid for it????


  • Uzma Kazmee
    Aug 28, 2014 - 7:45PM

    To analysis and trust any result survey dates and sample size is very imp…. don’t you think sample size is very small…our politicians are not considering the point of view of 50,000 to 90,000 people roughly protesting in front of parliament. How can you believe this as a fair analyses

    “Results for the survey in Pakistan are based on 1,203 face-to-face interviews with adults 18 and older, between April 15 and May 7, 2014. Interviews were conducted in Urdu, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki or Sindhi. The survey is representative of roughly 82% of the adult population. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir were excluded for security reasons as were areas of instability in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province) and Baluchistan. The survey is based on a multi-stage, area probability design stratified by province and urbanity. The primary sampling units were cities and villages. The sample is disproportionately urban but the data are weighted to reflect the actual urban/rural distribution in Pakistan.”


  • Zaida Parvez
    Aug 29, 2014 - 6:18AM

    Any report that says anything nice about anyone OTHER than Imran Khan is a fabrication, a setup and a lie. That is the logic of the world’s most intelligent party – PTI.


  • mir
    Aug 29, 2014 - 8:16AM

    Sarif brothers can rig Elections, than rigging these type of polls is a minor thing. They are biggest wheeler and dealers in Pakistan.


  • Faisal
    Aug 29, 2014 - 8:46AM

    250 Crore paid to media, and various other advertising schemes and the advantage of incumbency. What did you guys expect?

    Without advertisement and money, Nawaz isn’t all that popular.


  • Imran Qadri
    Aug 29, 2014 - 10:14AM

    Its funny that PTI trolls are mocking the sample size of this survey. Using the very same logic Isn’t it ironic that with few thousand protesters in Islamabad you want to derail the mandate given by 200 million Pakistanis when 11 out of 12 parties in parliament are united against you(PTI & PAT – Pasha team)


  • Pashmina
    Aug 29, 2014 - 10:16AM

    Heard outside PEW offices…

    “Survey le loo!”



  • Grace
    Aug 30, 2014 - 1:12AM

    @Sara: I am surprised that some people in Pakistan have no concept of statistics – the sample is extrapolated scientifically to project the overall national view plus or minus some percentage. Who are the people who don’t understand that is the way a sample size of a few thousand can accurately reflect the mood of millions. It’s a science people! Think about the polls done in many western countries which also reflected public mood correctly. It’s clear that most Pakistanis voted for Nawaz Sharif and he still enjoys their support. the thousands of PTI and PAT supporters don’t want to accept reality.


  • Sexton Blake
    Aug 30, 2014 - 4:25AM

    Dear Grace,
    No intelligent person would argue with your analysis of statistical theory. However, there are several other factors to be considered, which would require many words to explain. For example, Governments use massive propaganda programs to sell their point-of-view, with a view to manipulating the average voter, and are very good at fudging statistics to give a false view of a particular situation. We also have to consider factors such as corporate media support and whether people questioned in the poll were selected for their known support of a particular candidate, and where they resident in the areas where the alleged electoral fraud occurred, Additionally, perhaps we have to consider the old adage in regard to “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Basically, you and Sarah made some excellent points, but I tend to support Sarah, and this is based upon the non-scientific supposition that “something is not quite right in the state of Denmark”.


  • arif ali
    Sep 28, 2014 - 8:45PM

    Nawaz Sharif is the true leader of Pakistan!


  • Nov 5, 2014 - 10:05PM

    Imran Khan will Great Leader… :)


  • Shaukat Ali Khan
    Jan 4, 2015 - 2:58PM

    Sharif family is in power since 30-35 years! Naturally they are businessmen, with wealth might they become politicians but so far they failed to pose as leaders. They always start expensive and luxery plans like moterway, yellow taxi, bus service from where they earned lot of kick back commission. Their priority is not education, health, export etc. There are lot of cases against them in the courts and NAB. Majority of Pakistani are against them but they are masters in prepoll and postpoll rigging, they know how to cheat the nation, all anti-Pakistani forces are with them (Amirica, UK, Europen countries, India).

    Imran Khan is not angel; he has also committed lot of political & individual mistakes but he made health & education institutions in Pakistan using his private sources. His direction is clear for the nation. He looks promising, couragious and committed Leader (not politician).

    If Nawaz Sharif won the elections with clear majority they whey they are putting obsticles in the way to recalculate the votes, whey they take stay order…….Why..Why.


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