Gallup Survey Showed 75% of Pakistanis Welcomed 1999 Coup

On October 12, 1999, Pakistani military toppled democratically elected Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. This action followed the Prime Minister's sudden decision to sack Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister's simultaneous orders to deny landing permission to the Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was bringing the Army Chief back to Karachi from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Polls conducted immediately after the coup showed broad public support for it. 

October 1999 Gallup Survey:

A Gallup poll conducted immediately after the coup showed that 75% of respondents supported the military takeover, while less than 10% supported restoring Mr. Nawaz Sharif's government. 

Gallup Pakistan Survey Report October 13, 1999. Source: Bilal Gilani

Benazir Bhutto's Reaction:

It was not just the ordinary Pakistanis who welcomed the coup that toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government. Here's how Pakistan's first woman prime minister late Benazir Bhutto reacted to it in 1999:  

"Here, a coup has taken place against an unpopular despot (Nawaz Sharif) who was hounding the press, the judiciary, the opposition, the foreign investors. And when he decided to divide the army, the last institution left, the army reacted. Without going into the justifications of who is worse and the frying pan or the fire, I would like to say 'let's move forward'. This is a very dangerous period for a country which has physical bankruptcy and I would like to urge the western community to stay away from Nawaz Sharif, he is not liked by the Pakistani people"

Public Opinion Surveys:

There were frequent public opinion surveys conducted by multiple professional pollsters in Pakistan in the decade that followed the 1999 coup. One such credible survey was done regularly by Pew Global Research.  It showed that the majority of the people believed the country was headed in the right direction in Musharraf years. It also showed that people's satisfaction with Pakistan's direction has been in rapid decline. It fell sharply during the governments headed by the Pakistan People's Party. 

Source: Pew Research in Pakistan


Another survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan  in August 2013 showed that 59% of Pakistanis have a positive view of President Muaharraf (31%  say they hold a favorable opinion of him and another 28% say he was satisfactory). 34% had an unfavorable opinion of the former ruler. 

Pakistani Military's Popularity:

Multiple polls conducted over many years in Pakistan have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis have high confidence in the Pakistani military. This is in sharp contrast to significantly lower levels of confidence they have shown in the country's politicians and bureaucrats. These results appear to reflect the Pakistanis' fear of chaos...the chaos which has hurt them more than any other threat since the country's inception in 1947. Indian Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has described this situation in the following words: "Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage .....the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge". Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos. Chinese, too, fear chaos. "In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos", writes Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book entitled "Has China Won".   

PILDAT Survey 2015

2015 poll conducted by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development (PILDAT) found that 75% of respondents trust the country's military, a much higher percentage than any other institution. Only 36% have confidence in Pakistan's political parties.  

Gallup Poll Findings in Pakistan. Source: Gallup International

Here's a 2014 snapshot of how Pakistanis see various other institutions, according to Gallup International

1. Institutions - Less than one-third of Pakistanis have confidence in the national government, local police, and honesty of elections, and the ratings for those institutions have declined over the last six years. Pakistan's military is the one institution that has retained the confidence of an overwhelming majority (roughly 80%) of people in the country. 
2. Corruption - Eighty-one percent of Pakistanis see their government as rife with corruption. This is an increase of 13 percentage points over the last six years. 
3. Leadership - Approximately one in three Pakistanis approve of the leaders in the city or area where they live. Their approval of national leaders is lower - approximately one in five Pakistanis approve of them.
Why is Pakistani Military Popular?
 
The popularity of the military among Pakistanis' appears to reflect their fear of chaos. Pakistani military has helped the nation defy the most dire predictions of Pakistan's demise. Political, military, religious, ethnic, sectarian, secular, conservative and liberal forces are constantly pushing and pulling to destabilize it but Pakistan remains resilient with its strong nationalism that has evolved after 1971. 
A recent example is Pakistan Army's efforts to defend the state by its anti-terror operations Zarb e Azb and Radd ul Fasad that dramatically reduced the level of violence and significantly improved security in the country. It resulted in increased confidence of businesses, investors and consumers in the economy.  Another recent example is the military's active role in Pakistan's success against  pandemic caused by the deadly coronavirus
Terror Stats in Pakistan. Source: satp.org

Here's how India's ex cabinet minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has described Pakistani military's role in defending national integrity:  
"Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge." 
Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos as being their biggest enemy. Chinese too fear chaos, as described by former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book "Has China Won":
"In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos. The Chinese have a word for it: luàn. Given these many long periods of suffering from chaos—including one as recent as the century of humiliation from the Opium War of 1842 to the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949—when the Chinese people are given a choice between strong central control and the chaos of political competition, they have a reflexive tendency to choose strong central control". 
Summary: 
Pakistani military remains the most popular institution in the country, according to multiple polls conducted over several decades. In October 1999, the military coup against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was widely welcomed in Pakistan. A Gallup poll conducted immediately after the coup showed that 75% of the people supported the military action. Only 10% of the respondents in the poll supported restoring Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government. These results appear to reflect the Pakistanis' fear of chaos...the chaos which has hurt them more than any other threat since the country's inception in 1947.  Indian Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has described this situation in the following words: "Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage .....the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge". Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos. Chinese, too, fear chaos. "In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos", writes Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book entitled "Has China Won". 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 12, 2020 at 9:05pm
Benazir Bhutto  in 1999: "Here, a coup has taken place against an unpopular despot (Nawaz Sharif)  who was hounding the press, the judiciary, the opposition, the foreign investors.  And when he decided to divide the army, the last institution left, the army reacted.  Without going into the justifications of who is worse and the frying pan or the fire, I would like to say 'let's move forward'.  This is a very dangerous period for a country which has physical bankruptcy and I would like to urge the western community to stay away from Nawaz Sharif, he is not liked by the Pakistani people". 
Comment by Riaz Haq on October 23, 2020 at 8:05am

Breaking an old taboo, Pakistan begins to reckon with its powerful military


https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-military...

Sharif shocked the country by denouncing the army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the first rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement. In a stunning departure from Pakistani norms, the three-time premier accused Bajwa of backing his removal from office on corruption charges in 2017 and rigging the 2018 elections. It was the first time an establishment politician had ever made such accusations.

“General Qamar Javed Bajwa, you packed up our government and put the nation at the altar of your wishes,” Sharif said in Urdu. “You rejected the people’s choice in the elections and installed an inefficient and incapable group of people,” leading to an economic catastrophe. “General Bajwa, you will have to answer for inflated electricity bills, shortage of medicines and poor people suffering.”

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There are also signs that some alliance members are not comfortable with Sharif’s anti-military diatribe. On Saturday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party and son of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, called the military establishment “part of history” and said it was “regrettable” that Sharif had mentioned any of its generals by name.

“We do not want their morale to go down,” he said of the armed forces. “We want a real and complete democracy, but we do not look to the umpire’s finger, we look to the people’s signal.”

Even Sharif’s outspoken daughter, Maryam, who lives in Pakistan and whose husband was arrested briefly Monday after the rally in Karachi, has stressed that she is not “anti-military.”

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst in Lahore, predicted that while the current confrontation could weaken Khan politically, it might actually increase the military’s influence.

“Traditionally, Pakistan has been a security state whose survival was the foremost concern,” Rizvi said. He noted that even today, “inefficient” civilian rulers continue to rely on the army for emergency and humanitarian interventions.

“The political forces were always weak and divided,” he said. “Now this division is getting wider, which will harm democratic institutions, too.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 30, 2020 at 5:48pm

The TED website describes Kishore Mahbubani, a career diplomat from Singapore, as someone who “re-envisions global power dynamics through the lens of rising Asian economies.” This description is not just apt for Mahbubani but also for his new book, “Has the West Lost It?” The title may appear controversial to a reader unfamiliar with world politics and history, but is is a treatise for the future. In less than 100 pages, the author carefully puts together reasons for the Western world’s demise and suggests a three-pronged solution for a better world, where the gap between East and West is bridged to a large extent

https://www.fairobserver.com/region/asia_pacific/us-uk-china-india-...


In “Has the West Lost It?” Mahbubani dispels myths around Asian countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have achieved tremendous growth in the last 30 years. On the other hand, the Western world has failed to take care of its working class, which has been forced to the fringes. Mahbubani argues that the rise of countries like China and India mean that the West is no longer the most dominant force in world politics, and that it now has to learn to share, even abandon, its position and adapt to a world it can no longer dominate.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 30, 2020 at 6:09pm

Excerpts of "Has the West Lost It?" by Kishore Mahbubani

This is also why many Asian countries, including hitherto troubled countries like Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, are progressing slowly and steadily. In each of these four countries, various forms of dictatorship have been replaced by leaders who believe that they are accountable to their populations. Many of their troubles continue, but poverty has diminished significantly, the middle classes are growing and modern education is spreading. There are no perfect democracies in Asia (and, as we have learned after Trump and Brexit, democracies in the West are deficient, too).

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Pakistan is one of the most troubled countries in the world. Virtually no one sees Pakistan as a symbol of hope. Yet, despite being thrust into the frontlines by George W. Bush after 9/11 in 2001 and forced to join the battle against the Taliban, ‘Pakistan experienced a “staggering fall” in poverty from 2002 to 2014, according to the World Bank, halving to 29.5 per cent of the population.’25 In the same period, the middle-class population soared.

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When countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have begun marching steadily towards middle-class status for a significant part of their populations, the world has turned a corner. Indeed, the statistics for the growth of middle classes globally are staggering. From a base of 1.8 billion in 2009, the number will hit 3.2 billion by 2020. By 2030, the number will hit 4.9 billion,27 which means that more than half the world’s population will enjoy middle-class living standards by then.

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No other region can show such a sharp contrast between its dysfunctional past and its functional future, but Southeast Asia is not an exception. South Asia, another strife-ridden area, now probably has only one dysfunctional government, Nepal. As documented earlier, even Pakistan and Bangladesh are progressing slowly and steadily. In the neighbouring Gulf region, the news focuses on the conflict in Yemen. Yet, next door to Yemen, another nation, Oman, has been gradually making progress for decades. Oman’s per capita GDP has increased from US $9,907 in 1980 to US $15,965 in 2015.33

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Take the Islamic world, for example. They feel that the West has become trigger-happy since the end of the Cold War, and they resent it. Even worse, most of the countries recently bombed by the West have been Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This is why many of the 1.5 billion Muslims believe that Muslim lives don’t matter to the West. As indicated earlier, the West needs to pose to itself a delicate and potentially explosive question: is there any correlation between the rise of Western bombing of Islamic societies and the rise of terrorist incidents in the West? It would be foolish to suggest an answer from both extremes: that there is an absolute correlation or zero correlation. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. If so, isn’t it wiser for the West to reduce its entanglements in the Islamic world? Some of these entanglements have been very unwise. During the Cold War, the CIA instigated the creation of Al-Qaeda to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The same organization bit the hand that fed it by attacking the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. Sadly, America didn’t learn the lesson from this mistake. In an effort to remove Assad in Syria, the Obama administration transported ISIS fighters from Afghanistan to Syria to fight Assad.58 To ensure that the ISIS fighters had enough funding, America didn’t bomb the oil exports from ISIS-controlled zones in Syria to Turkey. Through all this, America declared that it was opposed to ISIS. In fact, some American agencies were supporting them, directly or indirectly.59

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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 26, 2020 at 7:06am

An army draws its strength from the people it is protecting. It is a bond of absolute trust. Nobody puts their life online for the salaries they are paid. The passion to take to the field of battle is rooted in love for the motherland and its people

https://twitter.com/fsherjan/status/1342803343551451136?s=20

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 26, 2021 at 4:41pm

The (Pakistani) military therefore provides opportunities which the Pakistani economy cannot, and a position in the officer corps is immensely prized by the sons of shopkeepers and bigger farmers across Punjab and the NWFP. This allows the military to pick the very best recruits, and increases their sense of belonging to an elite. In the last years of British rule and the first years of Pakistan, most officers were recruited from the landed gentry and upper middle classes. These are still represented by figures such as former Chief of Army Staff General Jehangir Karamat, but a much more typical figure is the present COAS (as of 2010), General Ashfaq Kayani, son of an NCO. This social change reflects reflects partly the withdrawal of the upper middle classes to more comfortable professions, but also the immense increase in the numbers of officers required. Meanwhile, the political parties continue to be dominated by ‘feudal’ landowners and wealthy urban bosses, many of them not just corrupt but barely educated. This increases the sense of superiority to the politicians in the officer corps – something that I have heard from many officers and which was very marked in General Musharraf’s personal contempt for Benazir Bhutto and her husband. I have also been told by a number of officers and members of military families that ‘the officers’ mess is the most democratic institution in Pakistan, because its members are superior and junior during the day, but in the evening are comrades. That is something we have inherited from the British.’18 This may seem like a very strange statement, until one remembers that, in Pakistan, saying that something is the most spiritually democratic institution isn’t saying very much. Pakistani society is permeated by a culture of deference to superiors, starting with elders within the family and kinship group. As Stephen Lyon writes: Asymmetrical power relations form the cornerstone of Pakistani society . . . Close relations of equality are problematic for Pakistanis and seem to occur only in very limited conditions. In general, when Pakistanis meet, they weigh up the status of the person in front of them and behave accordingly.19 Pakistan’s dynastically ruled ‘democratic’ political parties exemplify this deference to inheritance and wealth; while in the army, as an officer told me: You rise on merit – well, mostly – not by inheritance,inheritance, and you salute the military rank and not the sardar or pir who has inherited his position from his father, or the businessman’s money. These days, many of the generals are the sons of clerks and shopkeepers, or if they are from military families, they are the sons of havildars [NCOs]. It doesn’t matter. The point is that they are generals.


Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (pp. 181-182). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Comment by Riaz Haq on Friday

@ejazhaider employs the Quaid I Azam University’s struggle against illegal occupation of its land to illustrate the complexity of the civ-mil equation. Having approached all civilian fora without success, who else is left to appeal to but the military?


https://www.thefridaytimes.com/qau-and-civilian-supremacy/

Years ago, I had coopted Dr Ilhan Niaz for a report on civil-military relations. After we had finalised the report, he sent me an email with some very interesting points. Here’s a gist: There are three types of states. The first are civilian states. The military is either no longer or never was integral to the political order of the state in the domestic sphere. Ilhan’s point was that many of the theorists I had cited in the report belonged to such states and regarded “their exceptional circumstances as normal and desirable.” His second type was civilian-led states. In such states “the military remains an integral component of the political order of the state, a major aspect of the ability of such states to maintain their coherence, and a guarantor of the ultimate state writ and sovereignty.” He cited the example of the French Fifth Republic, Russia, constitutional-democratic India, and market-socialist China as politically-diverse examples of this second type. One can say that many of the Latin American and South East Asian states would also fall into this category.

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n its 73- or 74-year-old (depends on which school of counting one prefers) chequered political history, this country has constantly grappled with the issue of civilian control and supremacy. We currently have the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a loose opposition alliance of ideologically disparate political parties, agitating the issue against the sitting government which is referred to, pejoratively, as a ‘hybrid’ set-up.

However, neither the PDM nor the sitting government offers us a definition of democracy and civilian control. The Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) government is essentially a hybrid both in how it was conceived and how it has worked since its conception. That fact notwithstanding, it claims that it won the elections and, therefore, is a legitimate government. It also claims, not without irony — given the hybrid sobriquet for it — that it has the support of all institutions wherein it is quite right. Whether that serves to enhance its legitimacy or otherwise depends on whether one is a PTI or a PDM supporter.

The PDM, on the other hand, starts by making the same claim: vote ko izzat dau (respect people’s electoral choice). But by this it means something quite different — i.e., former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified and ousted under a plan, PTI was made to win according to the same plan and Mr Sharif pushed to the sidelines because he wanted to exercise the control that is constitutionally due a prime minister without interference from a praetorian army. In other words, civilian supremacy.

At this point, the PDM’s narrative also gets traction because of the poor performance of the PTI government. Barring the dyed-in-the-wool partisan, even informed PTI supporters acknowledge that this government hasn’t covered itself in glory.

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So, if civilian supremacy does not automatically give us democracy, what exactly is democracy? PDM says it’s about people’s electoral choices. Is that enough? Are we referring to someone or a system giving people a choice as a standalone, decontextualised virtue? What if I am given 10 choices, neither of which is to my liking? Should we then, before we begin to use certain terms, define them more carefully not only for what they must contain intrinsically but also with reference to the context? Put another way, if a system is structured badly and offers a bind, does it even matter how many choices one might get within that system.

Comment by Riaz Haq on Friday

In conclusion, weak political institutions and parties and incompetent leadership as well as the country’s geography and demography contribute to governmental failings and complex civil-military relations in Pakistan. This reality is reflected in public opinion polls that show a low level of trust in the government at 36 percent along with parliament, 27 percent; political parties, 30 percent; and politicians, 27 percent. In this context the most trusted institution in the country is Pakistan’s army, which is trusted by 82 percent of the population. But despite the lack of confidence in political intuitions and high trust in the army, most Pakistanis do trust democracy. According to a December 2017 Gallup Poll, 81 percent of Pakistanis prefer democracy, while only 19 percent would rather have a military dictatorship. Recent electoral developments suggest that Pakistan may be heading towards sustainable democracy.

https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/pakistans-civil-military-relations


Pakistan’s civilian government has little control over the country’s powerful army which stands out as a most trusted institution, with more than 80 percent public approval, compared to 36 percent approval for government. Weak institutions that fail to address Pakistan’s challenges have allowed the army to become more assertive, explains Riaz Hassan, research professor and director of the International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding, and he argues that demography has a role: “The most striking aspect of Pakistan’s demography is that it is made up of six ‘nations,’ each divided between two or, in the case of Balochis, three countries,” he writes. “All are predominantly Islamic, but also endowed with their own distinct, historically grounded cultural identities.” Despite governmental failings and difficult civil-military relations in Pakistan, public polling indicates strong support for democracy, at 80 percent, rather than for a military dictatorship. – YaleGlobal

https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/pakistans-civil-military-relations

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