It is not uncommon to read results of various opinion surveys and polls on political issues and choices in Pakistani (and international) media. What however remains usually hidden is the real motive behind such polls and results. More often than not, instead of representing genuine public opinion, such surveys are designed and their results manipulated in order to mislead and influence the public opinion to serve certain vested interests.
Gallup Pakistan, led by a Jamaat-e-Islami and Nawaz Sharif loyalist, Dr Ijaz Shafi Gilani, is one such example, notorious for its right wing and ISI centred polls. A few months ago, I wrote in January 2010:
If one is to believe in the Poll and Survey mafia, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan are two of the most popular leaders in Pakistan whereas PPP and its allies such as ANP, JUI-F have their popularity graph on the decline.
However, it seems that the people of Pakistan do not reflect the ’sentiments’ and ‘wishes’ of the poll engineers. After the PPP’s victory in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Quetta elections, JUI-F has won bye elections in Mansehra and ANP (supported by PPP) has won in Swat.
Shame on Ijaz Gilani (Jamaatia) of Gallup Pakistan, and his propagandists including but not limited to Haroon-ur-Rasheed, Ansar Abbasi, Dr Shahid Masood and Irfan Siddiqui.
After my brief conversation today with a fellow administrator of the LUBP, I cannot resist posting a quick article exposing the reality of Dr Ijaz Shafi Gilani and his cleverly disguised right wing project known as Gallup Pakistan.
Let us start with a brief, crisp piece by Tahir Sarwar Mir on graphiay (survey manipulators) such as Ijza Shafi Gilani:
If you would like to read the opinion of other authors such as Atalul Haq Qasmi, Munno Bhai and Abbas Athar, you may find their articles at the following links:
Who is Dr Ijaz Shafi Gilani?
In a nutshell, Dr Gilani is a life long affiliate of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan. He has also served as an employee and loyalist to Nawaz Sharif in his IJI/ISI engineered government during 1991-1993.
According to ICG Asia Report No 49 entitled “Pakistan: The Mullahs and The Military” (20 March 2003)
Intellectuals and writers are among the JI’s most valuable assets. It was the first religious party toinclude Western-educated academics, a policy that dates to the Jamaat-military alliance during the Cold War. Pro-Jamaat intellectuals, many educated in the U.S., dominate social science research. Intellectuals with past or active affiliations with the JI run research organisations such as the Institute of Policy Studies (Islamabad) and Gallup Pakistan. The secretary general of the Jamaat, Prof. Khurshid Ahmed, an eminent economist, heads the Institute of Policy Studies. The head of Gallup Pakistan, Dr. Ejaz Shafi Gillani,too, was originally affiliated with the IJT. (pp.10-11)
Here is an excerpt from Dr Gilani’s official profile at Pakistan Herald:
Dr. Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 1977
2003 – Present: Honorary Senior Fellow, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Islamabad and Honorary Dean of the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, IIU Islamabad
1980 – Present: Chairman, Gallup Pakistan
1991 – 1993: Advisor to the Prime Minister and Chairman of the Prime Minister”s Committee for Research and Analysis
Guess who was this man serving in 1991-1993? (Ameer-ul-momineen Nawaz Sharif, courtesy IJI, ISI and Osama bin Laden)
Guess who was this man serving from 2003 to 2007: (General Pervez Musharraf)
This man spends most of his time in crafting and engineering right wing oriented survey polls and also attending and lecturing in Jamaat-e-Islami and IJT’s training workshops in Mansoora, Lahore.
How professional and reliable is Gallup Pakistan?
Here is an excellent piece by Wasiq Ali on the hidden agenda and the lack of transparency and professionalism in Gallup Pakistan.
… in the West polling organisations openly acknowledge any political affiliation or sponsorship. We hear of Democratic Party pollster Mark Penn and Republican pollster Frank Luntz. The affiliation does not mean the polling data is inaccurate but it warns analysts against any possible tilt in the manner of framing of questions.
Pakistan’s oldest polling organization, Gallup Pakistan, was founded by Dr Ijaz Gilani, a competent man, whose polling reports do not frankly acknowledge his association with the Jamaat-e-Islami. The very fact that the primary field force for Gallup’s polling is recruited from Jamaat-e-Islami’s cadres could affect the outcome of the poll in the view of some. This is not in any way meant to cast aspersion on Gallup’s polling in Pakistan, just to suggest the need for full disclosure. Polls can only be accurate where the framing of the questions has been less than subjective and the public has a right to know the subjectivities of those conducting any poll.
A common mistake in Pakistani polls, which makes them less accurate, relates to provincial and urban-rural weight. For example, the latest Pew Poll acknowledges that its sample of 1,254 adults was “disproportionately urban.” The Pew Poll sample was 55% urban even though Pakistan is only 33% urban. The reason for the disproportionately urban sampling was stated to be the “greater heterogeneity of the urban population.”
In its methodology section, the Pew poll states, “In addition to sampling error one should bear in mind that questions wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce errors or bias into the findings of opinion polls.”
The Gallup-Al Jazeera poll also had given Punjab 60% in the polling sample whereas Punjab only accounts for 52% of Pakistan’s population.
Such anomalies fail to recognize the fundamental realities of Pakistan. First, Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League-N are primarily based in urban Punjab. Any poll giving more weight to urban Punjab would unduly favour Nawaz Sharif and his party. Secondly, urban Pakistan is more affected by the themes in the media. Since the Pakistani media has been intrinsically hostile to President Zardari that hostility is reflected in urban opinions.
Thirdly, polling is difficult in areas such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). For example, the limited polling done in FATA affirms that people there support drone attacks because they get rid of people who are making their lives miserable.
But in the rest of the country, especially the urban areas, there is greater hostility to drone attacks largely because of the media drumming up anti-Americanism.
A detailed study of the Pew Poll methodology also indicates that there is no accounting for proportions of well-to-do versus poor and Muslims versus non-Muslim minorities. All these factors mean that just as the Gallup and other polls before the February 2008 elections failed to take into account rural and minority opinions they are doing the same even now.
Most polls before the 2008 elections predicted fewer seats for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and a lot more for the two Pakistan Muslim League factions. But we all know that the election result was different. So if President Zardari is still smiling after unfavorable opinion poll results he probably has good reason. Public opinion can change and if Pakistan can stay on the democratic course, which it should, then much can happen to alter public opinion between now and the next election due in February 2013. It is election results and not opinion polls that matter, however much hysterical anchors and columnists might drum up the opinion poll surveys. Source: The News
Here is another perspective on Dr Ijaz Gilani and his Gallup Pakistan by Farhan Malick:
Not many Pakistanis know that Gallup Pakistan has nothing to do with the US-based Gallup, Inc. that frequently makes international headlines with its presidential approval ratings and US economic data. Apparently, even an organization of the size and repute of Al Jazeera is unaware of this fact. Instead, Gallup Pakistan is associated with the UK-based Gallup International Association, which works primarily through its website and is notorious in the market research industry for handing out affiliations all over the world for as low as a few hundred dollars.
“Over the years, most of the work done by Gallup Pakistan has been for government departments and non-governmental organizations based both here and abroad. Incidentally, both of [these organizations] do not set very high standards of accountability,” said one industry source. This coupled with Gallup Pakistan’s inability to gain the private sector’s trust raises a few questions about the organization’s credibility.
It was in 2006 that Gallup Pakistan was denied registration of the “Gallup” trademark in Pakistan after the trademark registrar received objections from Gallup, Inc. Less than a year ago a US court ruled in favor of the Gallup, Inc. after the company complained of trademark infringement when Gallup Pakistan’s Dr. Gilani took part in a US radio show and used the name Gallup Pakistan to describe the company.
“There has always been a big question mark over the formulation of the questions being asked in these surveys, and historically these survey companies have also been guilty of misreporting their sampling errors and margins of error,” says Dr. Farrukh Saleem of the Centre of Research and Security Studies, an Islamabad think tank. “Just a few months back a local TV channel ran a public survey asking people [if] they want Islam in Pakistan. Now for me that is an extremely inappropriate question, of course 98% of the respondents will say yes. But if we were to ask if they want the Deobandi, Barelvi or some other version of Islam, that would have got us much more interesting results.”
In the light of the above, it is safe to conclude that any opinion polls conduced and their results processed by Gallup Pakistan will consistently reflect pro-Nawaz Sharif and pro-right wing tendencies, and are therefore not worth the piece of paper they are usually printed on.