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mark the first time in the country’s history that one democratically-elected government has completed its full term and been replaced by another elected administration.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, 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.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
BBC series 'Sherlock' scooped a hat-trick of awards on the night. Benedict Cumberbatch received the award for Actor, Miniseries or Movie ('Sherlock: His Last Vow') while Martin Freeman won the award for Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie. Neither actor was present to collect their awards
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Oracle DBA (Database Administrator, 10g, 11g, PL/SQL)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + £5k shift allowance, 12% bonus, benefits: Clearwat...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis