Pakistan's youth favour Sharia law and military rule over democratic governance

 

More young people in Pakistan believe the country should be run according to Sharia law or else by the military than favour democratic governance, according to a new survey.

Just weeks before the country goes to the polls in what is seen as an historic election, the survey of people aged between 18-29 suggests 94 per cent of those questioned believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. That figure is up from with 86 per cent in 2009 and just 50 per cent in 2007.

According to the poll, conducted by the British Council, only 29 per cent of young Pakistanis believe democracy is the best political system for the country.

By contrast, 32 per cent support governance by the military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half its history, while 38 per cent said they believed the country should be ruled according to Islamic law. Indeed, while the civilian government has just 14 per cent of public support, the army is supported by 77 per cent of those questioned.

The report, carried out between December 2012 and January 2013, suggests young people in Pakistan have seen few benefits from democracy under the rule of President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistan Peoples Party. It has been published weeks away from an election scheduled for May 11 that will mark the first time in the country’s history that one democratically-elected government has completed its full term and been replaced by another elected administration.

“Young people are losing confidence in the democratic system,” the report says. “Leaders of all political persuasions have a duty to convince the youth that they remain committed to undiluted democracy for Pakistan.”

It adds: “The youth of Pakistan have a pessimistic outlook today, but it is important to remember their fervour for the country is unbridled and passionate. A substantial majority of the youth still believe that they will have a role in changing the country for the better, and policy makers need to address their needs to accrue the benefits of their patriotism.”



The report says that 30 per cent of registered voters, around 25m people in all, are aged between 18 and 29. Although the report found widespread pessimism about the benefits of democracy, it also discovered that 60 per cent of those questioned intended to vote in the upcoming election. A further ten per cent said they would be persuaded to go to the polls and make their mark.

“[Young people] will participate and vote actively in comparison to any elections in the past,” Roshna Khan, a 24 year-old from Mansehra in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, told the pollsters.

Another young person quoted in the survey, Umey Aymen, a student from Quetta, in Baluchistan, said:  “The youth is more clued up and they understand that only their vote can bring the difference that they have been waiting for.”

Pakistan is confronting a host of problems, including a faltering economy, inadequate infrastructure and a persistent threat from extremists and militants. The survey found that 44 per cent listed inflation as the biggest concern, followed by 19 per cent who mentioned unemployment while 11 per cent listed terrorism.

The report, available at www.nextgeneration.com.pk, says that young people are “starved of opportunities”. Just one in ten is in stable employment while more than one third are either still students, working for themselves or working as day labourers. Half of those questioned are not working.

“Young people have very low levels of confidence in the institutions – government, parliament, political parties – most responsible for setting the country’s direction,” the report says. “In contrast, the justice system and the media have higher approval ratings, as does Pakistan’s armed forces.”

Raza Rumi, an Islamabad-based writer and analyst, said he believed the survey reflected the Islamisation that Pakistan had undergone since the late 1970s and 1980s and which had become pervasive throughout the education system.

“The results are not surprising and we face a really confused young population that is brainwashed with visions of a glorious Islamic past and the gritty reality of unemployment, insecurity and political turmoil,” he said. “The last five years of democracy have also been misrepresented by the same elements who are permanent stakeholders in non-representative forms of governance.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test