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|
A 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:
|Terror Stats in Pakistan. Source: satp.org|
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