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Pakistanis wary of future

world Updated: Dec 20, 2008 22:38 IST

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Pakistanis are becoming increasingly pessimistic about prospects for their country and for themselves, a United States-based group that promotes democracy found in a poll.

The gloom is sapping support for a civilian government led by the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the International Republican Institute (IRI) said.

IRI said it randomly selected 3,500 adult men and women from 50 districts across the country and questioned them from October 15 to October 30.

“When asked if they felt the country was headed in the right or wrong direction, 88 per cent responded wrong direction while 11 per cent said right direction,” IRI said in a report on its findings.

The survey found a large spike in pessimism over personal economic futures with 59 per cent believing their economic well-being would worsen over the coming year, compared with 46 per cent in a June survey.

“The Pakistan People’s Party-led government is bearing the brunt of this discontent,” IRI said, referring to Bhutto’s party.

Seventy-six per cent of people responded negatively when asked how the government had performed on issues important to them.

Respondents gave Asif Ali Zardari an approval rating of 19 per cent, while 63 per cent said they disapproved of the job he was doing, IRI said in its findings released on Friday.

Attitudes towards religious extremism were unchanged from the group’s previous poll in June, with 60 per cent of people saying it was a serious problem.

The poll, conducted before militant attacks in Mumbai, also found an increase to 51 from 45 per cent in the number of people who saw the Taliban and Al Qaeda operating in Pakistan as a serious problem.

Sixty-six per cent of people agreed that terrorists were not true Muslims because their actions were forbidden by the Koran, IRI said.

Militants kill three

Pakistani Taliban militants killed three truckers returning after taking fuel to Western forces in Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday.