Pakistan’s general elections will be a tough contest between the parties of former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif with the ruling PML-Q trailing far behind, but a majority of countrymen still doubt that the polls will be fair and free, a new survey showed.
In the polls to be held on Monday, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of Bhutto, who was assassinated in Rawalpindi on December 27 last year, is expected to get 35 per cent of the votes, the PML-N of Sharif 25 per cent, the ruling PML-Q 15 per cent and smaller parties 15 per cent while 10 per cent were undecided, said the survey conducted by the Gallup during February 9-10.
The PML-N has a "notable edge" over the PPP in the politically crucial Punjab province, with the support of 38 per cent as against 28 per cent for Bhutto's party and 22 per cent for PML-Q.
In Sindh, Muttahida Qaumi Movement is leading in urban areas while PPP is leading in rural regions. In North West Frontier Province, the vote is split between the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Awami National Party, PPP, PML-N and PML-Q.
The survey said Balochistan province would be fragmented among various national and regional parties.
Gallup also said a majority of Pakistanis still doubt that Monday's general election will be free and fair but at least a third of them feel conditions have improved since last year for holding impartial polls.
In a separate survey conducted on January 26, 51 per cent of respondents replied in the negative when they were asked if the polls would be free and fair in the current circumstances. But the level of trust increased from 15 per cent in early November last year to 31 per cent.