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Drumbeating Begins In PTI Camps. But Is IRI Survey Enough To Brush Poor Performance Under The Carpet?

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Muhammad Hani questions the authenticity of the IRI survey released this week that says 57 percent of respondents believed Imran Khan’s government was doing a good job. Hani thinks the survey wasn’t representative and that the government has so far failed to deliver on its promises.

The IRI survey released this week shows that 57 percent of the respondents think PM Imran Khan is either doing ‘a very good job’ (17 percent) or at least ‘doing a good job’ (40 percent). Moreover, the respondents who believe government must be given at least one more year to deliver are 26 percent and 14 percent are convinced on giving two years to the government for delivering on its manifesto.

First of all, the survey was conducted between 1st and 22nd of November 2018. Then why was the report released at this juncture? To understand the credibility of the survey, background essentially needs to be discussed. In 1983, Republican ideologue President Ronald Reagan founded IRI. Though it claims to be non-partisan, the company certainly has political opinions. It was extremely controversial during Arab spring, especially in Egypt.

This isn’t IRI’s first survey in Pakistan. From 2002, the company has released various survey reports on the country. In 2013 elections, IRI released a survey on forthcoming elections, predicting that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif was the most popular leader and pitched to win the elections. Following the survey report, PTI had hit back in its traditional manner, its modus operandi, by declaring it as a ‘paid survey’.

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The roles this time have reversed however. PTI social media activists are jubilant over the outcome of the survey. It absolutely fits the ‘post-truth era’ phenomenon. Accept when it’s friendly, demonise when it’s not. PM Khan has, surprisingly, remained hushed so far.

The survey consists of 3,991 samples with participants 18-year-old and older. 74 percent respondents said economy was the biggest issue of the country, whereas 77 percent young respondents see lack of jobs as the biggest challenge.

In a third world country, current affairs experts believe that any situation beyond two months can’t be predicted accurately. Things change overnight.

IRI released a survey in 2017 too. In that survey, PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif had 63 percent popularity. Interestingly, in that particular case, Khan (now PM) received 39 percent appreciation. Few months later, Nawaz lost the election.

Surveys are simply surveys. The pragmatism varies with the variables. And they can’t be taken too seriously. And how can one prophesy the fate of 220 million people on behalf of 4000 samples anyway?

Nevertheless, the performance in the first six months of the government is right before the eyes of 220 million people. The statistics reflect around 600,000 people lost their jobs following the GE last year. Speaking to me anonymously, a private bank official claimed that management had terminated around 600 employees. The situation in other industries isn’t very different. So far over 7000 employees have been fired from various media organisations.

The government has been busy setting up task forces. That has created uncertainty. Things are becoming hopeless. Six months are adequate enough for any newly elected government to bring a ‘feel good factor’ at least.

If we speak to professionals, depression reflects in their conversations. Nobody is satisfied with the performance. Even the supporters have only been asking for a bit more time.

Courtesy Dawn.com

The survey is at the end conducted with a very small chunk out of the 220 million people living in this country. Hence, the result cannot be considered as a final verdict. One of the newspapers has a graph on its website tracking fulfilment of PTI’s promises. Laughably, the only fulfilled pledge is also setting up of a task force.

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PTI will hammer the report on its critics for sure. Firstly, as stated above, it provides them with a lifeline. Secondly, it helps deviate from the core issues. But the mainstream media needs to highlight the core issues instead of getting distracted by these surveys. Hopes are still on. Let’s see if ‘time buying’ helps the government deliver on pledges or if the pledges will forever remain as pledges. Time will be the best judge.

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