An armed supporter of a Pakistani radical Islamic group 'Lashkar Islam or Army of Islam' keeps guard during a rally in Bara, the main town of Pakistan lawless Khyber tribal region near Afghan border, Jan. 3, 2008.

Sharia Preferred by Pakistan's Youth Over Democracy, Poll Finds

Poll shows military dictatorship is also more popular than democracy.

An armed supporter of a Pakistani radical Islamic group 'Lashkar Islam or Army of Islam' keeps guard during a rally in Bara, the main town of Pakistan lawless Khyber tribal region near Afghan border, Jan. 3, 2008.
By SHARE

A survey of young adults in Pakistan has found that Islamic law and military rule are preferred by that age demographic over democracy.

The British Council, which surveyed more than 5,000 Pakistanis between the ages of 18 and 29 in December and January, found that 38 percent favored Islamic Shariah law, 32 percent preferred military dictatorship and 29 percent wanted democracy.

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The choice was evidently framed as an either-or proposition. Many religious parties in the region, notably Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, have supported democracy as a means to implement Islamic law.

The results of the poll were reported Wednesday by The Associated Press. "The next generation is increasingly gripped by a profound feeling of helplessness and young people do not feel in control of their own destinies," the British Council said of the results, according to the AP.

Only 10 percent of the Pakistani respondents indicated they have stable employment and 94 percent said their country is headed in the wrong direction.

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Despite the apparent unpopularity of democracy, 60 percent of the respondents said they intended to vote. If that percentage is reflected in actual turnout, it would be higher than the young adult participation rate in the United States, where 49.3 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 cast ballots in 2012, according to Tufts University's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

The poll results have a reported margin of error of 1.5 percentage points. Pakistan is holding parliamentary elections on May 11.

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