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Politics and government of
Since its establishment in 1947, Pakistan has an asymmetric federal government and is a federal parliamentary democratic republic. At the national level, people elects a bicameral legislature, the Parliament of Pakistan, which consists of a directly elected National Assembly (a lower house) and Senate (upper house), whose members are chosen by elected provincial legislators. The head of government, that is Prime Minister, is elected by the majority members of the National Assembly while the Electoral College, which consists of both houses of Parliament together with the four provincial assemblies, elects the head of state (as well figurehead), the President. In addition to the national parliament and the provincial assemblies, Pakistan also has more than five thousand elected local governments.
Responsibility of holding elections are conducting under the supervision of constitutionally established Election Commission which is chaired by appointed Chief Election Commissioner. Furthermore, the Pakistan Constitution defines (to a basic extent) how general elections are held, in Part VIII, Chapter 2 and various amendments. As of current, a multi-party system is in effect, with the National Assembly consists of 342 seats and the Senate consists of 100 seats elected from the four provinces. By Constitution, the general elections are held in every five consecutive years whenNational Assembly completing its term (unless the National Assembly has been sooner dissolved) while the Senate elections are held to elect member for term of 6 years. By law, a general election must be held within a period of two immediately following the day when the National Assembly completed its term.
The Constitution of Pakistan more broadly and briefly defines how general elections (to a basic extent) are conducted, giving the time of of elections, and the framework under which which the elections are to be conducted set up the the Constitution of Pakistan in Article 222-226 in Chapter2:
|“||A general election to the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly shall be held within a period of sixty days immediately following the day on which the day on which the term of the Assembly is due to expire, unless the Assembly has been sooner dissolved, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than fourteen days before that day.||”|
The responsibility and duty of conducting elections are established the the Constitution of Pakistan. Established in 1956, the Election Commission of Pakistan holds the purpose of elections to Houses of Parliament, four provincial assemblies and for election of such other public offices as may be specified by law or until such law is made by the Parliament. The Election Commission is constituted with comprising the Chief Election Commissioner as its chairman (who is a judge or/ retired judge of the Supreme Court) and four appointed members from each four provinces, each of whom is a judge of four High Courts of the four provinces; all appointed by the President by constitution.
After approving the consultations from the chief justices of high courts of four provinces and the chief election commissioner, the President constitutionally approved the appointments of the designated members of the election commission. The chief election commissioner is appointed by the President, in his/her discretion, for a term of 3 years. The Constitution grants the chief election commission the security of tenure and financial autonomy.
Pakistan has a parliamentary system in which, the executive and legislature are elected directly by public voting in a Constituencies on first-past-the-post system through a secret ballot. Article 222–229 of the Constitution of Pakistan forbids the candidate of occupying the membership of National Assembly and the Provincial assemblies simultaneously. In a direct elections, a candidate who obtains the highest number of votes in a constituency, is declared elected as a Member of National or a Provincial Assembly.
The Seats in the National Assembly are allocated to each of Four Provinces, the FATAs and the Federal Capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding Census officially published. Members to the Seats reserved for Women and Non-Muslims, are elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political party’s lists of candidates on the basis of total number of General Seats secured by each political party in the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly. The National Assembly has 342 seats, usually elected for five year terms; however, if the National Assembly dissolved, a general elections must be called in sixty-days period, in accordance to the constitution.
|National Assembly Seats from Provinces||General Seats||Women Seats||Total Seats|
|National Assemblies from territories|
|Federally Administered Tribal Areas||12||—||12|
|Islamabad Capital Territory||2||—||2|
|Specified Seats||Reserved Seats for Minorities|
|Seats for Non-Muslim(s)||10||—||10|
|Composition||Total General Seats||Total Women Seats||Total Seats|
|Total seats in State Parliament||282||60||342|
The Senate consists of 100 members, of whom 14 members are elected by each Provincial Assembly, eight members are elected from FATAs by the Members of National Assembly from these areas, two members (one woman and one technocrat) is elected from the Federal Capital by the Members of National Assembly; four women and four Technocrats are elected by the members of each Provincial Assembly
It is the responsibility of the Chief Election Commissioner to hold and make arrangements for the Senate elections in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote through electoral colleges. The term of the members of the Senate is 6 years. However, the term of the first group of the Senators, who shall retire after completion of first 3 years of the Senate, is determined by drawing of lots by the Chief Election Commissioner.
The President is elected in a presidential elections. In an indirect election, with the winner being determined by votes casts by the electors of the Electoral College. The electoral college is comprise of elected senators, members of the national and provincial assemblies. The President is a ceremonial post, head of state, and merely a figurehead with the executive powers granted to Prime Minister, by the Constitution. The Constitution grants right to both men and women to run for the presidency as it states that a presidential candidate must be a Muslim, not less than 45 years of age, and a Member of the National Assembly can contest the Presidential election. The President is elected for a term of 5 years.
It is the duty of Chief Election Commissioner to conduct elections to the office of the President in a special session of Parliament and all the Provincial Assemblies in accordance with the provisions of Second Schedule to the Constitution.
In order to decentralize administrative and financial authority to be accountable to Local Governments, for good governance, effective delivery of services and transparent decision making through institutionalized participation of the people at grassroots level, elections to the local government institutions are held after every four years on non party basis by the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan.
Members of Union Council including Union Administrator and Vice Union Administrator are elected through direct elections based on adult franchise and on the basis of joint electorate. However, for the election to the reserved seats for Women in Zila council proportionately divided among Tehsils or Towns shall be all members of the Union Councils in a Tehsil or Town. It is the responsibility of the Chief Election Commissioner to organize and conduct these elections.
A person who is a citizen of Pakistan, is enrolled as a voter in any electoral roll and in case of National/Provincial Assemblies is not less than 25 years of age and in case of Senate not less than 30 years of age, is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic injunctions, has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices, obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sin, is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, has not been convicted for a crime involving moral turpitude or for giving false evidence, and has not, after establishment of Pakistan, worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the ideology of Pakistan and is graduate, can contest the elections and become a member of the Parliament or a Provincial Assembly.
A person, who is a citizen of Pakistan, is not less than 18 years of age on the first day of January of the year in which the rolls are prepared or revised, is not declared by a competent court to be of un-sound mind and is or is deemed to be a resident of an electoral area, can get himself enrolled as a voter in that electoral area. The citizens registered on the electoral rolls are only eligible to cast their votes.
Between 1947 and 1958, there were no direct elections held in Pakistan at the national level. Provincial elections were held occasionally. The West Pakistan provincial elections were described as "a farce, a mockery and a fraud upon the electorate"
The first direct elections held in the country after independence were for the provincial Assembly of the Punjab between 10–20 March 1951. The elections were held for 197 seats. As many as 939 candidates contested the election for 189 seats, while the remaining seats were filled unopposed. Seven political parties were in the race. The election was held on an adult franchise basis with approximately one-million voters. The turnout remained low. In Lahore, the turnout was 30 per cent of the listed voters and in rural areas of Punjab it was much lower.
On 8 December 1951 the North West Frontier Province held elections for Provincial legislature seats. In a pattern that would be repeated throughout Pakistan's electoral history, many of those who lost accused the winners of cheating and rigging the elections. Similarly, in May, 1953 elections to the Provincial legislature of Sindh were held and they were also marred by accusations of rigging. In April 1954, the general elections were held for the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly, in which the Pakistan Muslim League lost, and Bengali nationalists with the support from the Communist Party won the elections, forming the first communist government in East Pakistan.
|Awami League (AL)|
|Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)|
|Pakistan Muslim League (PML)|
|PML (Council) (PML-C)|
|Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI)|
|PML (Convention) (PML(C))|
|National Awami Party (Wali) (NAP(W))|
|Pakistan Democratic Party (PDP)|
|Total seats in State Parliament||300||200|
|Chief Election Commissioner(s)||Abdus Sattar||Karam Illahi Chohan|
|Elections under President(s)||Yahya Khan||Zia-ul-Haq|
All data and calculations are provided by Election Commission of Pakistan as Public domain. The General elections in 1985 were non-partisan general elections, but many technocrats belong to the one party to another.
After the loss of East–Pakistan, the democracy return to the country. In 1977, the general elections were held but due to election violence instigated by the right-wing PNA, the martial law took advance against the left oriented PPP.
In 1988, the general elections were held again which marked the PPP coming in power but dismissed in two years following the amid lawlessness situation in the country. In 1990, the general elections saw the right-wing alliance forming the government but dismissed in 1993 after the alliance collapse. The general elections in 1993 saw the PPP forming government after successfully seeking plurality in the Parliament. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto made critical decisions during her era, ranging from working to strengthening the education, defense, foreign policy and pressed her policies hard to implement her domestic programs initiatives. Despite her tough rhetoric, Prime Minister Bhutto's own position deteriorated in her native province, Sindh, and lost her support following the death of her younger brother. Tales of high-scale corruption cases also maligned her image in the country and was dismissed from her post by her own hand-picked president in 1996. The 1997 general elections saw the centre-right, PML(N), gaining the exclusive mandate in the country and supermajority in the parliament. Despite Sharif's popularity in 1998 and popular peace initiatives in 1999, the conspiracy was hatched against Sharif by General Musharraf, accusing Sharif of hijacking the plane and pressed terrorism charges against Sharif in the military courts; thus ending Sharif's government.
Ordered by the Supreme Court, General Musharraf held general election in 2002, bearing Sharif and Benazir Bhutto from keeping the public office. With Zafarullah Jamali becoming the Prime minister in 2002, he left the office for Shaukat Aziz in 2004. After the deadly 9/11 attacks in the United States and Musharraf's unconditional policy to support the American war in the Afghanistan, further damaged Musharraf's credibility in the country. In an unsuccessful attempt to dismiss the Judicial system, Musharraf dramatically fall from power. The 2008 general elections allowed the PPP, assisted with the left-wing alliance, further consolidated in opposition to Musharraf, though it was plagued with loadshedding, law and order situation, foreign policy issues, and poor economic performances. In recent elections held in 2013, the PML(N) won the majority seats in the elections and is expected to be forming government in last weeks of May 2013.
|Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)||155||93||45||89||18||81||124||30|
|Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML(N))||8||54||106||73||155||19||91||127|
|Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)||0||13||15||0||12||17||25||18|
|Awami National Party (ANP)||17||2||6||3||10||0||13||1|
|Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam (F) (JUI(F))||0||7||6||0||2||0||0||10|
|Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI)||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||28|
|Pakistan Muslim League(Q) (PML(Q))||0||0||0||0||0||118||54||2|
|Government after election||ML||PPP||PML(N)||PPP||PML(N)||PML(Q)||PPP||PML(N)|
|Total seats in State Parliament||200||207||207||207||207||342||340||342|
|Estimated election voter turnout||63.1%||43.07%||45.46%||40.28%||35.42%||41.08%||44.23%||55.02%|
All data and calculations are provided by Election Commission of Pakistan as Public domain. All elections were contested under a separate electorate system, the 1990 elections had allegations of vote-rigging confirmed by foreign observers. The 'MQM' contested the 1988 elections under the name Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz, it boycotted the 1993 National elections.
This election led to strong showings for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N), who signed the Bhurban Accord in response to the election results.The election was held in Pakistan on 18 February 2008, after being postponed from 8 January 2008. The original date was intended to elect members of the National Assembly of Pakistan, the lower house of the Majlis-e-Shoora (the nation's parliament). Pakistan's two main opposition parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML (N)) won the majority of seats in the election. The PPP and PML(N) formed the new coalition government with Yosaf Raza Gillani as Prime Minister of Pakistan.Following the election, Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that the process had been free and fair. He conceded the defeat of the PML (Q) and pledged to work with the new Parliament. The voter turnout for the election was 35,170,435 people (44%). By-elections for 28 seats (23 provincial and 5 national) have been delayed numerous times, with most of them now held on 26 June 2008.
|Parties||Votes||%||Elected seats||Reserved seats (women)||Reserved seats (minorities)||Total||Percentile|
|Pakistan Peoples Party||10,606,486||30.6%||97||23||4||124|
|Pakistan Muslim League (N)||6,781,445||19.6%||71||17||3||91|
|Pakistan Muslim League (Q)||7,989,817||23.0%||42||10||2||54|
|Muttahida Qaumi Movement||2,507,813||7.4%||19||5||1||25|
|Awami National Party||700,479||2.0%||10||3||0||13|
|Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan||772,798||2.2%||6||1||0||7|
|Pakistan Muslim League (F)||4||1||0||5|
|Pakistan Peoples Party (Sherpao)||140,707||0.4%||1||0||0||1|
|National Peoples Party||1||0||0||1|
|Balochistan National Party (Awami)||1||0||0||1|
|Total (turnout 44%)||34,665,978||100%||270||60||10||340|
|Source: Election Commission of Pakistan, Adam Carr's Electoral Archive|
The Pakistani general election of 2013 will be the next election to the 14th parliament of Pakistan. The government of Pakistan will hold it on 11 May. In the general election, voting will take place in all parliamentary constituencies of Pakistan, to elect Members (MNAs) to seats in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.The current National Assembly is expected to complete its constitutional term on or before 18 March 2013, five years after the first session of the National Assembly elected during the 2008 general election. Elections must be subsequently held within 60 days of parliament having been dissolved.This will be the 11th general election for Pakistan since 1962, and potentially marks the first successful democratic transition between two elected governments.
With assistance from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems activities in Asia, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced the printing of computerized electoral rolls, the first of its kind database which resulted in the elimination of 35 million bogus voters off the list. The new computerized system was funded by USAID. Approximately 40 million young Pakistanis will be voting for the first time in the upcoming elections, out of a registered electorate of 90 million. On 24 January 2013, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) approved electoral reforms ahead of the upcoming general elections, empowering itself in a manner similar to their Indian counterparts. According to the approved reforms, the entire government machinery would come under the authority of the Election Commission once the election schedule is announced. Another clause in the reforms also empowers the commission with administrative authority with the announcement of the election schedule. Moreover, the commission would be allowed to make transfers and postings of high-ranking officials including IGs, secretaries and chief secretaries. The motive behind these reforms is to ensure transparency of the upcoming general elections, which the Chief Election Commissioner had termed crucial.
With Ayub Khan’s arrival on the political stage in 1958, the System of Basic Democracy system was introduced in which ‘the voters delegate their rights to choose the president and the members of the national and provincial assemblies to 80,000 representatives called Basic Democrats.’
On January 2, 1965, the first presidential election was held. Some 80,000 'basic democrats', as members of urban and regional councils, caucused to vote. There were two main contestants: Pakistan Muslim League (Conventional) lead by General Ayub Khan and the Combined Opposition Parties (COP) under the leadership of Fatima Jinnah.
The PML secured a thumping majority of 120 seats in those elections. The opposition could clinch only 15 seats. Combined Opposition Party (COP) won 10 seats whereas NDF bagged 5 seats in East Pakistan and 1 in West Pakistan. The rest of the seats went to the independents.
|Presidential Candidate(s)||1965||Political parties affiliation(s)||Service Department(s)|
|Ayub Khan||124||Pakistan Muslim League (PML)||Pakistan Army|
|Fatima Jinnah||16||National Democratic Front (NDF)
Combined Opposition Party (COP)
|Total Electoral College consisted||80,000 ballots|
|Chief Election Commissioner(s)||Justice (retired) Ghulam Moinuddin|
|Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)||451||608||274||31||481|
|Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML(N))||168||374||153|
|Pakistan Muslim League(Q) (PML(Q))||0||0||0||658||671||44|
|Total Electoral College||457||700||442||457||1,170||1,170||700|
|President after election||FI Chaudhy||GI Khan||F .Leghari||R. Tarrar||P.Musharraf||P.Musharraf||A.Zardari|
FI Chaudhy becomes president in 1973 with PPP's support in four provinces. GI Khan was candidate of PPP in return of supporting Benazir Bhutto in 1988. Pervez Musharraf gained political support from PML(Q) as their president in 2004 and 2007.
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