A snap poll conducted by Gallup Pakistan has found a renewed surge in support for the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) following the return of Nawaz Sharif, as the party works to revive its voter base after the massive inflation inflicted by the 16 months of the Shehbaz Sharif-led government.
The Gallup report states that it polled a sample of 1,000 adult men and women spread over nearly 100 districts across Pakistan through a phone survey. Conducted on Oct. 22, a day after Sharif’s speech at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore, the survey finds the political fortunes of the PMLN have “improved,” as the PTI continues to face difficulties in campaigning amidst ongoing arrests of its leaders and workers.
According to the report, 75 percent of Pakistanis had heard or read about Sharif’s return to Pakistan, adding that 34 percent of respondents had heard his homecoming speech, while 65 percent had not. This, it said, suggests nearly 40 million men and women across Pakistan had tuned in. Of the listeners, per the survey, 80 percent said they liked the speech, while 12 percent did not and 7 percent had neither liked nor disliked it.
Half the respondents, per Gallup, said Sharif’s return to Pakistan would prove good for the future of the country and Pakistanis. By contrast, 14 percent said it would be bad for Pakistan, while 18 percent said it would make no difference in the lives of common Pakistanis and another 18 percent said they had no opinion.
A majority of the respondents, 51 percent, said Sharif’s return would help the PMLN win the next elections, while 12 percent believed the party’s electoral prospects would be harmed. A significant 22 percent had no opinion, while 14 percent said it would make no difference.
Approximately 70 percent of respondents, per the survey, believed that Nawaz should work with all political leaders, including PTI chief Imran Khan, to take the country forward; 19 percent did not agree with this, while 7 percent said they had no opinion. Of the respondents, 38 percent believed Nawaz had returned to Pakistan through a “deal,” while 27 percent disagreed. A high 34 percent, however, said they did not know whether or not the PMLN leader had returned through a deal.
Finally, when asked which of the country’s popular leaders could steer Pakistan out of its prevailing economic crisis, 30 percent of respondents posted trust in Nawaz. By contrast, 22 percent believed Imran Khan could deliver and 4 percent backed PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. A whopping 30 percent, however, felt no political leader could deliver on this task.
The poll is undoubtedly a positive for the PMLN, which had long maintained that its political fortunes would revive with the return of Nawaz. It also stands in marked contrast to a poll reported on last month in which Imran Khan had enjoyed 60 percent of support, compared to just 36 percent for a then-exiled Nawaz.