Yesterday we wrote about a serious conflict of interest issue in the results of the survey conducted by International Republican Institute (IRI) which had outsourced the project to IPOR. In the declaration of the results IRI choose not to disclose that IPOR, the agency hired to conduct the survey in Pakistan had a financial conflict of Interest as it provided research / survey services to political parties like PML-N, PML-Q & MQM.
Since the story broke out yesterday and our blog post, IPOR has literally gone out on a limb to further dig itself into a deeper hole – instead of a carefully measured statement trying to clear up their name and show evidence that the survey was conducted in a truly “unbiased and non-politically inclined manner” the IPOR owners in panic simply choose to sneak in website modification of their client list to include PTI and chose to delete MQM, it now states
“IPOR have the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as its primary clients. Within the short span, IPOR has developed a diverse clients-base of political parties and politicians from PTI, PML-N, PML-Q, MQM“
The issue here, which I guess they too did not realize – is that no matter which party is listed as their clients, for them to conduct a political popularity survey on behalf of IRI while maintaining a financial relationship with the very same political parties is a definite conflict of interest which should have been disclosed as part of the IRI survey, anything not disclosed and hidden should be considered as a serious defect of the survey.
This accidental revelation damages the credibility of IRI – and now studies emerging from this organization will be viewed with microscopic care especially as a neutral unbiased polling agency in Pakistan. IPOR will probably feel the pinch and it is possible IRI might sever relationships as well. An argument could easily be made that IPOR has a business to run and needs these clients to make money but strategic calculations should have been made to weigh in the conflicting interests, which im sure any such agency would be well aware of.
The IRI results are interesting but quite suddenly their credibility has been seriously tarnished and IRI stands to be blamed for not declaring this conflict of interest by their hired agency