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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Most Pakistanis want democracy

By Amin Ahmed
Thursday, 17 Sep, 2009

About 62 per cent of Pakistanis feel it’s ‘very important’ to live in a democratic country.—Photo by AP

RAWALPINDI: After decades of dictatorial rule in the country since independence, a majority of Pakistanis now feels that it’s important to live in a democratically ruled country.

According to a study entitled ‘World Public Opinion on Political Tolerance’, about 62 per cent of Pakistanis feel it’s ‘very important’ to live in a democratic country.

Some 26 per cent say it’s ‘somewhat important’ while seven per cent feel this is ‘not very important’. Two per cent remain rather indifferent.

Sponsored by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the study was released on Tuesday to mark the International Democracy Day.

The ‘WorldPublicOpinion.Org’ conducted the poll in 24 countries that account for 64 per cent of the world’s population.

The countries are China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Israel, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Korea and the Palestinian territories (Palestine).

The surveys were conducted between April 4 and June 30. The poll reveals a widespread perception of a serious lack of political tolerance.

Large majorities perceive that people in their nations are not completely free to express unpopular views, that opposition parties do not get a fair chance to express their views and try to influence government decision, and that legislators have limited freedom to express views that differ from their political party.

The poll found strong support for democracy in general. Asked ‘how important is it for you to live in a country that is governed democratically?’, majorities in all 24 nations said it was very or somewhat important. In no country did those calling it unimportant exceeded about one in four.

On average across all nations polled, 90 per cent said it was important to live in a democratically governed country and 67 per cent said it was very important.

In Pakistan, about 56 per cent said ‘very important’ when asked how important did they think it was for people to be free to express unpopular political views, without fear of being harassed or punished.

Thirty-five per cent considered unpopular political views as ‘somewhat important’.

As far as the status of free expression was concerned, 33 per cent of Pakistanis gave their opinion that there was an opportunity of free expression while 35 per cent spoke of ‘somewhat free’.

Asked how often did opposition parties get a fair chance to express their views and try to influence government policies, approximately 50 per cent said: ‘Most of the time.’

Thirty-three per cent said ‘only some times’ while 39 per cent stated that most of the time members of the legislative body felt free to express views that differ from official views of their own political party.

More than 80 per cent of the people polled said women were fairly represented in the legislative body. (Dawn)

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