A recent opinion survey in Pakistan shows President Pervez Musharraf has suffered a decline in public approval.

The poll, released Tuesday by the Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI), indicates General Musharraf's approval rating slipped to 34 percent, a 20-percent drop from February.

The institute said this is the first of its polls in which the president did not receive a majority approval rating.

General Musharraf has faced criticism this year for several high-profile decisions, including the suspension in March of Pakistan's chief justice - a move the poll says was opposed by 72 percent of Pakistanis.

The poll, conducted between mid-June and early July, also revealed that more people would prefer exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as Pakistan's president. Thirty-nine percent chose Bhutto, versus thirty percent for General Musharraf.


In July, General Musharraf ordered a siege and raid on an Islamabad mosque controlled by Islamist radicals. The assault left 100 people dead and triggered deadly militant attacks in the country.

The survey, taken before the mosque conflict was resolved, also showed a rising sense of insecurity in Pakistan.

The poll was based on interviews with four-thousand randomly-selected adults across Pakistan.