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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Pakistan poll lead for Bhutto
PPP leaders with manifesto
The elections will be the first since the military coup
The party of former Pakistani Premier Benazir Bhutto has come out as favourite to win the country's elections in 10 days time, according to a BBC survey in Pakistan.

Poll findings
Most likely winner: Pakistan People's Party
Most likely prime minister: Mian Azhar
Best former prime minister: Benazir Bhutto
Worst former prime minister: Benazir Bhutto

Her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) goes into the 10 October general elections with a slender lead over a pro-government faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q).

Twenty-seven per cent of those polled said it was the party most likely to get the highest number of seats, according to the poll conducted for the BBC's Urdu-language website.

General elections in Pakistan are being held after three years of military rule.

However, Ms Bhutto and former Premier Nawaz Sharif - both living in exile - have been barred from contesting the election under rules introduced by President Musharraf.

Prime minister

In a poll with many contradictions, Mian Azhar, who heads a breakaway faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, was seen by most respondents as most likely to become prime minister.

Mian Azhar
Mian Azhar: Most likely prime minister

But his party - which is seen as close to President Musharraf's military government - came second to the PPP, followed in third place by the original PML headed by the deposed Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.

Former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was fourth in line to become prime minister.

But he was the most popular choice among women who were polled.

Politician evaluation

The poll also asked who were the best and worst former prime ministers in Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto was rated both the best and the worst prime minister over the last two decades.

In second place was Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed by the current military ruler, General Musharraf, in a coup in 1999.

Regarding rules which debar both of them from standing, 54% believe that Benazir Bhutto should have been given permission to return and participate in the elections.

Nawaz Sharif scored slightly lower with exactly 50%.

Musharraf's standing

The poll also tested attitudes towards General Musharraf.

Forty-five per cent thought his tenure had been good for the country.

But surprisingly, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders Afghanistan and where sympathy for the former Taleban is strong, General Musharraf scored 60%.

A clear majority do not believe the elections will be completely free and fair - although 24% of those interviewed said they either did not know or did not want to comment.

The pre-poll survey for BBC Urdu.com was conducted in the last 10 days of September 2002.

It was conducted in 99 cities and towns and more than 100 villages throughout Pakistan.

A total of 2,827 Pakistanis of voting age were asked their opinion about the elections in face-to-face interviews.

The margin of error is 3%.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

12 Sep 02 | South Asia
01 Sep 02 | South Asia
01 Sep 02 | South Asia
31 Aug 02 | South Asia
20 Aug 02 | South Asia
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