Around 70 per cent Pakistanis pessimistic about their economy ahead of elections

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A record 70 per cent of voters in Pakistan said ahead of general elections on Thursday (Feb 8) that they are pessimistic about their economy in the coming years, according to a new poll. The survey conducted by the United States-based global analytics and advisory firm Gallup also indicates a general rise in discontent about a multitude of economic, political and security challenges that Pakistan faces. 

About the economy

The survey conducted in late 2023 showed that Pakistanis were more pessimistic about their economy than at any point in the 18 years that Gallup polled them. 

The report published on Tuesday (Feb 6) is based on data collected by Gallup after it conducted face-to-face interviews with a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 15 and older in Pakistan between September and October last year.

A record-high 70 per cent of people said economic conditions are getting worse and nearly half said it was hard to make ends meet on their present income, according to the report. 

The inflation rate in the country had reached 29.7 per cent in December, and in 2023 Pakistani rupee was Asia’s worst-performing currency. 

The situation did not change much in the last month as consumer prices rose 28 per cent in January compared to the year before which was by far the highest level of any country in Asia, reported Bloomberg. 

According to the Gallup poll, 70 per cent believe that their local economy and around 61 per cent said their personal standard of living was getting worse. 

Islamabad has long struggled with a heavy debt load, recently it secured another bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was Pakistan’s 23rd since it gained independence in 1947. It has also relied on countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for financial support. 

“The country of 241 million requires considerable political and economic reform to remedy the structural nature of its fiscal debts,” authors Hashim Pasha and Benedict Vigers wrote in the report published on Tuesday (Feb 6). They added, “For whoever wins the election, reform will be difficult without a popular mandate.”

70 per cent lack trust in elections

Around seven in 10 Pakistanis or 70 per cent “lack confidence in the honesty of their elections,” the survey found ahead of the elections describing the political atmosphere ahead of Pakistan’s first general election since 2018 as “glum”.

According to the survey, 88 per cent believe that corruption within their government is widespread which is only two per cent higher than the year before, a record high for the country. 

The report also noted that Pakistan’s political landscape has “remained unsettled” since the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2022. 

Anti-immigrant sentiment and security situation

The survey found that Pakistanis have grown hostile toward immigrants last year, with only 37 per cent saying that it was a “good thing,” as opposed to the 53 per cent in 2022. 

However, it reportedly seems to be in tandem with the country’s economic and security challenges, including a number of attacks and violence particularly in the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan’s border regions with Afghanistan. 

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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