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Pakistanis Still Rate Military Tops Among National Institutions

Pakistanis Still Rate Military Tops Among National Institutions

by Nicole Naurath and Julie Ray

ABU DHABI -- Gallup surveys in Pakistan show the image of the country's military took a slight bruising after reports emerged that it had no prior knowledge of the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In a May 9-12 Gallup poll, 78% of Pakistanis expressed confidence in their military, down from 86% in a survey conducted mostly in the weeks leading up to the raid.

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The full trends on these findings, released Friday in an Abu Dhabi Gallup Center brief on Pakistan, show that although Pakistan emerged from nearly a decade of military control in 2008, its armed forces still receive more support from Pakistanis than other key institutions. It's important to note that in many countries -- including the U.S. -- the military usually elicits high confidence. In Pakistan's case, this high confidence likely reflects the military's strong, ongoing presence in civil society and reinforces how relatively weak the civilian government and institutions still are.

Financial institutions (58%) and the judicial system (56%) also earned the trust of the majority of Pakistanis in the earlier 2011 survey. Gallup did not ask about these institutions and others in May 9-12 poll, instead only querying Pakistanis about their confidence in the military and national government.

Pakistanis' confidence in the national government, on the other hand, remained low but unscathed in the early fallout after bin Laden's death. In the May 9-12 survey, 31% of Pakistanis expressed confidence in the national government, essentially no different from the 28% measured earlier. Other civilian institutions such as the local police (32%) and the honesty of Pakistan's elections (19%) also elicited low trust.


Pakistanis' relatively weak confidence in their civilian government and institutions demonstrates the civilian leadership's inability so far to step out from the military's shadow. This is at least partly because the military has taken the lead in recent crises -- including rescuing citizens from devastating floods last year -- while the public saw the government's efforts as inadequate.

Poor confidence in local and national leadership likely do not make dealing with Pakistan's many challenges -- poverty, illiteracy, the spread of domestic terrorism, and a level of gender inequality that has limited women's contributions -- any easier.

The briefing looks at the long-term trends on these issues and delves into how Pakistanis' attitudes differ among men and women, the educated and uneducated, and urban and rural residents.

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Survey Methods

Results for the two surveys are based on face-to-face interviews conducted between April 25 and May 14, 2011, and May 9-12, 2011, with approximately 1,000 adults in each survey, aged 15 and older, covering urban and rural areas across all four provinces in Pakistan. Federally administered areas and Azad Jammu Kashmir were excluded from the May 9-12 study. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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