EDITORIAL: The recent Ipsos survey unveiled days before the Feb 8 elections and conducted in January on people aged 18-34 has a rather small sample size of 2,050 – considering that Pakistan boasts not only the world’s fifth highest population but also one of its largest youth bulges – but the results are very interesting.
It says a lot about ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan), for example, that it is the least trusted among eight national institutions.
Since the survey also shows that only 54 percent of respondents bother to “stay informed or active in politics”, and that they base their opinions mostly on online chatter, it’s clear that the Commission does not enjoy a good reputation on social media.
The military remains the most trusted institution with 74pc approval ratings, which shows that it has emerged unscathed from the divisive political campaign unleashed by some politicians over the last two-three years. It’s not clear whether the survey was completed before the tit-for-tat with Iran, where the army proved its credentials beyond a shadow of doubt, so it can’t be said for certain which factors bolstered the youth’s trust in it.
It’s also encouraging that the media emerged as the third most trusted institution – behind the Supreme Court in second place. Perhaps this will encourage some popular outlets which have taken clear political positions in the past to become more neutral in future.
But the most concerning part is that approval ratings of political parties barely touch 50pc. And “three in five youngsters in Pakistan think political leaders do not understand their issues or priorities”. That explains why very few people “stay informed about the politics, candidates, and their manifestos in their constituency”.
This shows the degree of erosion of public trust in the political elite, and how poorly this country’s so-called democrats connect with its most important demographic. Nobody was interested in their manifestos because they never honour any of their promises once they come into power. And the people always suffer, regardless of the winners and losers in any election.
It’s because of consistently poor leadership, after all, that ordinary Pakistanis are forced to endure the toughest social and economic conditions in living memory. That’s why it’s no surprise that most respondents identified the economy, especially inflation, as the biggest problem. And you can be sure that very few, if any, take campaign promises of cheaper utilities and millions of houses at face value anymore.
Yet politicians obsessed with grabbing power again continue with the same old show with the same straight faces at election rallies.
How ironic, then, that perhaps the most pivotal election in Pakistan’s checkered history was contested by politicians and organised by an election commission that very few of its youth have any faith in. This survey must raise red flags right across the political landscape.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2024