ISLAMABAD: The grief on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was almost universal in the country and about half of all Pakistanis believe that government-allied agencies or politicians were responsible for the martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto, according to a Gallup survey released on Saturday. Majority of the people in a survey (nearly half of the sample) suspected government agencies (23 percent) and government allied politicians (25 percent) responsible for her death.
According to a Gallup survey, Al-Qaeda or Taliban were suspected by 17 percent while almost an equal number suspected other external forces, principally the United States (12 percent) and India (4 percent). Ninteen percent said they would not know. The positive role of PML (N) Chief Nawaz Sharif and Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Qazi Hussain Ahmed on the occasion of Bhutto’s assassination was given the highest rating respectively by the respondents of the survey.
The poll was carried out in two rounds. The first round was conducted shortly after her assassination, on December 30-31, 2007 while the second round was carried out during January 6-8, 2008. The sample comprised of over 1300 men and women in all the four provinces spanning cities, large and small towns and villages.
For nearly half of the respondents in the survey, their first source of information was mass media, principally television (43 percent) followed by radio (3 percent). The tragic news reached the other half through relatives and friends, face-to-face (35 percent) or telephone (17 percent). The information reached most people early in the evening, within a couple of hours after the incident (62 percent); most of the remaining were informed of it later that night (35 percent). The rest 3 percent came to know of it on the following morning.
A question was asked about views on involving foreign investigators to probe the assassination. In response to the question, ‘In your view, would a decision to invite foreign experts to investigate this incident be right or wrong’, 46 percent favoured the possible invitation, 30 percent opposed it, while 24 percent said they did not know.
As the survey was carried out during December 30-31, 2007, before the decision was made to invite Scotland Yard to assist Pakistan in the investigation, one might guess that the favourable view on inviting foreign investigators would have risen later, especially after the formal decision to invite Scotland Yard had been made, the Gallup of Pakistan commented.
Who should lead the PPP after Benazir Bhutto was a key question. The survey provided two options, Asif Zardari or Amin Fahim, but allowed the possibility of nomination of any other person by the respondents to the survey. Between the two pre-structured options, the majority favoured Amin Fahim (48 percent) followed by Asif Zardari (30 percent). A number of names other than the two provided in the question were given by 17 percent of the respondents, while the remaining 5 percent did not answer this question.
The Second Round of the survey was carried out after the succession issue had been settled by the party and Benazir Bhutto’s son, young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had been chosen to head the party, with the assistance of his father, Asif Ali Zardari. The question was asked: ‘People’s Party has chosen Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as its head. Would you say they made the right or the wrong decision?’ Among the respondents to this survey, 53 percent believed it was the right decision, 28 percent considered it wrong, while 19 percent did not answer. The support for the party decision was much higher among PPP voters, 74 percent of whom endorsed the party choice in favour of Bilawal, while only 14 percent considered it wrong and 12 percent did not answer.
In a follow up question, the respondents were asked: ‘If you were a member of the People’s Party Central Executive Committee, who would you have supported for party leadership: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Asif Zardari, Sanam Bhutto or a competent leader from other members of the party?’ In response to this, 47 percent favoured Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; the remaining were distributed among Sanam Bhutto (21 percent) and one of the other competent party member 19 percent. Seven percent provided other alternatives to the issue. Only 6 percent named Asif Zardari, but this is possibly because by then he had himself nominated Bilalawal as the party head, the Gallup said.-SANA