Pakistan has a long and complex history of elections. The country gained independence in 1947 and held its first general election in 1970. Here’s a brief overview of the country’s election history:
- 1970: The first general election was held under the 1970 Constitution. The election was contested by East Pakistan-based Awami League and West Pakistan-based Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The Awami League won a majority of seats in East Pakistan, while the PPP won a majority in West Pakistan.
- 1977: The PPP government was overthrown in a military coup by General Zia-ul-Haq, who imposed martial law and postponed the elections scheduled for that year.
- 1985: General Zia-ul-Haq held non-party elections under the “Eighth Amendment” to the constitution, which gave the president sweeping powers. Zia himself was elected president, and his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), won the majority of seats in the National Assembly.
- 1988: General Zia was killed in a plane crash, and elections were held later that year under the 1973 Constitution. The PPP won the majority of seats, and Benazir Bhutto became the country’s first female prime minister.
- 1990: The PPP government was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and new elections were held. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won a majority of seats, and Nawaz Sharif became the prime minister.
- 1993: The PML-N government was dismissed by President Khan, and new elections were held. The PPP won the majority of seats, and Benazir Bhutto became prime minister again.
- 1997: The PML-N won a majority of seats in the general election, and Nawaz Sharif became the prime minister for the second time.
- 1999: General Pervez Musharraf overthrew the PML-N government in a military coup and imposed martial law. Elections were held in 2002 under a new constitution, and Musharraf’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), won the majority of seats.
- 2008: Elections were held after Musharraf’s resignation, and the PPP won the majority of seats. Yousaf Raza Gillani became the prime minister.
- 2013: The PML-N won a majority of seats in the general election, and Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for the third time.
- 2018: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, led by Imran Khan, won a majority of seats in the general election, and Imran Khan became the prime minister.
Pakistan’s election history has been marked by political instability, military coups, and allegations of election rigging. However, despite these challenges, the country has held regular elections since its independence, and the democratic process continues to evolve.
Election Process in Pakistan
The election process in Pakistan is governed by the Constitution of Pakistan, the Election Act, and the rules and regulations of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Here’s a brief overview of the election process in Pakistan:
- Nomination of Candidates: Political parties and independent candidates can nominate themselves for election to the National Assembly or provincial assemblies. Candidates must meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being a citizen of Pakistan, being at least 25 years old, and having no criminal convictions.
- Election Campaigning: Political parties and candidates are allowed to campaign for a certain period before the election. During the campaigning period, they can hold rallies, public meetings, and advertise through various media channels.
- Polling: Polling takes place on election day, which is usually a public holiday in Pakistan. Voters go to their designated polling stations and cast their vote for their preferred candidate. Polling stations are open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and the ECP provides security and administrative support to ensure a fair and transparent election.
- Counting of Votes: After the polling ends, the ballot boxes are sealed, and the votes are counted at the polling stations. The results are then transmitted to the ECP, which compiles and announces the official results.
- Post-Election Disputes: Candidates or political parties can challenge the election results in a court of law if they believe that the election was not conducted fairly or there were irregularities.
Overall, the election process in Pakistan has improved over the years, but there are still concerns regarding the transparency and fairness of elections. The ECP has taken several measures to address these concerns, such as using electronic voting machines and biometric verification of voters.
When was the First Election Held in Pakistan?
The first general election in Pakistan was held in 1970. The election was held under the 1970 Constitution, and it was contested by several political parties, including the East Pakistan-based Awami League and West Pakistan-based Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The election was held in two phases, with East Pakistan voting on December 7, 1970, and West Pakistan voting on December 17, 1970. The Awami League won a majority of seats in East Pakistan, while the PPP won a majority in West Pakistan. However, the election results were not accepted by the ruling military regime, which led to a political crisis that ultimately resulted in the separation of East Pakistan and the formation of Bangladesh.
Controversial Election in Pakistan
Pakistan has had several controversial elections throughout its history, with allegations of rigging, irregularities, and violence. Here are some of the most controversial elections in Pakistan:
- 1977 General Election: The 1977 general election was held during the military rule of General Zia-ul-Haq. The election was marred by allegations of rigging, and the opposition parties, led by the PPP, boycotted the election. The military regime declared a state of emergency and arrested thousands of opposition leaders and activists.
- 1990 General Election: The 1990 general election was held under the government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The election was marked by widespread allegations of rigging and manipulation, and the opposition parties, led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), boycotted the election.
- 2013 General Election: The 2013 general election was conducted under the government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The election was marked by allegations of rigging and irregularities, particularly in the province of Punjab. The opposition parties, led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), held protests and demanded a recount of the votes.
- 2018 General Election: The 2018 general election was held under the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s PTI. The election was marked by allegations of pre-poll rigging, media censorship, and vote manipulation. The opposition parties, led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), alleged that the election was rigged in favor of the PTI.
Overall, controversial elections in Pakistan have often led to political instability, protests, and violence, and have raised questions about the integrity and transparency of the electoral process. The Election Commission of Pakistan has taken several measures to address these concerns and ensure free and fair elections in the country.