Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People’s Party holds a solid lead going into next week’s elections, according to a poll commissioned by a US organization associated with members of the 9/11 commission. Some 37% of Pakistanis surveyed said they would support the secular PPP, to 12% for Pervez Musharraf’s Muslim party. The party of Nawaz Sharif, the other ex-PM active in the opposition, came in second with 25%.
The PPP’s lead is not decisive, reports the Press Association, because Pakistan’s winner-takes-all electoral system rewards local victories, and the PPP depends on broad support across the entire country. Support for Islamic extremists, including Osama bin Laden, is down from 46% in August to 24%. The poll suggests that Pakistanis are increasingly wary of religious-based government, the Dawn newspaper reports.