Nawaz Sharif most
popular leader in
Punjab, Imran going
down: Gallup survey

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ISLAMABAD: Nawaz Sharif has emerged as the most popular leader in Punjab, according to a newly released survey, whereas he is fast catching up with Imran Khan at the national level as the former’s graph goes up and the latter’s is going down after incarceration.

A survey released by Gallup Pakistan on Thursday laid out the political mood of the masses that shows PMLN is gaining its lost ground especially in Punjab, the participants were also asked about their favourite personalities. One survey was conducted in June and another in December last year. The mood swing in this span shows Nawaz Sharif making advances since his return to Pakistan.

At national level, Nawaz has gone up from 36 percent popularity (in June 2023) to 52 percent (in December 2023). Imran in the corresponding period has gone down from 60 percent to 57 percent which suggests that public mood is swinging towards the former keeping in view the perception that he will be able to form the next government whereas the latter stands no chance in the near future. So going by the above, it appears that though Khan is still the most popular leader at the national level, it is on decline whereas Nawaz heads upward in terms of approval rate.

If their standing is judged at Punjab level which will be the key determinant in deciding the future prime minister, Nawaz has scored higher than Imran. The only survey conducted in this regard at provincial level was in December which shows Nawaz’ popularity at 60 percent and Imran’s at 53 percent. Third most popular leader in Punjab is Jamaat-e-Islami’s emir, Sirajul Haq (36 percent). Bilawal Bhutto follows him with 34 percent popularity. Saad Rizvi of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan grabbed fifth slot by scoring 31 percent approval. Maulana Fazlul Rehman (27 percent) and Jahangir Tareen (21 percent) comes after him.

National level survey of the leaders’ personal approval rate indicates that almost all the leaders surveyed have lost popularity except Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlul Rehman and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui. As mentioned above, Imran’s rating decreased by three percent. Similarly, Saad Rizvi went down 10 percent (from 38 percent to 28 percent) in the duration of seven months. Bilawal lost one percent from 36 percent to 35 percent. Tareen’s rating decreased by three percent.

Overall mood suggests that PTI and PMLN are in neck-on-neck competition in Punjab if the elections are held today. The gap between the two parties is 2 percent which is within the error margin of this survey and therefore statistically insignificant. Given Punjab represents more than half of the National Assembly seats, this narrowing gap however could have implications in terms of both parties’ abilities to bag seats. Both parties have had the same position in 2018 elections as PTI got 36 percent vote and PMLN 35 percent votes and it resulted in a difference of two seats. PTI bagged 63 seats and PMLN 61 seats.

In KP, PTI’s approval has increased to 45 percent in 2024 from 37 percent in 2018. The JUIF has 15 percent approval rate there, PMLN nine percent whereas seven percent each of ANP and PPP. Considering JUIF and PMLN alliance in South KP (stronghold of JUIF) and Hazara region (stronghold of PMLN) could upset the PTI there. Same goes in Malakand where ANP and PPP have its vote bank.