94% said the country was headed in the wrong direction

Shariah has trumped democracy and military rule as the preferred option among the youth of Pakistan in a survey conducted by the British Council, ahead of the coming elections. Of the 5,000 youngsters mapped across the country, 38 per cent chose Islamic Shariah as the best political system for Pakistan.

While the study “Pakistan Next Generation Goes to the Ballot Box” reflects the deep disappointment with democracy among the youth, with only 29 per cent opting for it, the preference for Shariah is primarily because the respondents do not have a “direct experience of a non-democratic system of Islamic government”.

Further, Shariah was favoured for its ability to advance moral and religious values.

It is also thought to be the best system for giving people their rights and freedom; for promoting tolerance; and making the country a fairer one. However, not many expected it to improve security, a major concern.

On the security front, the military was found to be the best option and continues to enjoy a better acceptance than democracy with 32 per cent of the respondents voting for it.

Only 29 per cent voted for democracy while94% said the country was headed in the wrong direction

In fact, military rule was found to be most popular in the restive province of Balochistan besides Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Favourability

Though opinion about political institutions is “highly unfavourable” and only 14 per cent had a favourable view of the federal government, this is an improvement over the last such survey which was reported in 2009, soon after the close of the Musharraf era and about a year into the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition government.

Non-political institutions are seen as more favourable with the armed forces topping the list at 77 per cent followed closely by religious centres which had an approval rating of 74 per cent among the respondents, who were between 18 and 29.

Media came third at 63 per cent followed by the judiciary which was found favourable by 60 per cent of the respondents.

With the youth constituting about a third of the electorate, all parties have been trying to woo them in a big way in the run-up to the polls scheduled for May 11.