Pakistanis prefer strong leader to democratic government

May 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM
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ISLAMABAD, May 10 (UPI) -- More than half of Pakistan's Muslims would prefer a strong leader to a democratic government, an international poll released Friday indicated.

Pew Research Center surveyed Muslims in 37 countries and territories and found Pakistanis showed the least support for democracy. Only 29 percent said they would choose democracy with 56 percent preferring strong leadership.

Pakistan is also one of the most heavily Muslim countries at 96 percent of the population.

The country holds elections Saturday for members of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament and for members of four provincial assemblies. The two leading contenders in what will be Pakistan's first transfer of power from one civilian government to another are the Pakistani Movement for Justice or PTI party headed by former cricket star Imran Khan and the Pakistan Muslim League, headed by Nawaz Sharif.

In a separate poll conducted only in Pakistan, Pew found 83 percent of Pakistanis give low marks to President Asif Ali Zardari and a majority say the country is moving in the wrong direction.

More than half, 54 percent, of Pakistanis said religious leaders should have influence in politics, with 27 percent saying that influence should be large. More than a quarter said religious leaders should either have "not too much influence" at 12 percent or no influence, 14 percent.

Pakistanis tend to see themselves as politically powerless. More than half, 53, percent, said they completely agreed with the statement people like them do not have much influence on government and 13 percent said they mostly agreed with it.

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