Since its establishment in 1947, Pakistan has had a non-symmetric federal government and is a federal parliamentary democratic republic. At the national level, the people of Pakistan elect a bicameral legislature, the Parliament of Pakistan. The parliament consists of a lower house called the National Assembly, which is elected directly, and an upper house called the Senate, whose members are chosen by elected provincial legislators. The head of government, the Prime Minister, is elected by the majority members of the National Assembly and the head of state (and figurehead), the President, is elected by the Electoral College, which consists of both houses of Parliament together with the four provincial assemblies. In addition to the national parliament and the provincial assemblies, Pakistan also has more than five thousand elected local governments.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, a constitutionally-established institution chaired by an appointed and designated Chief Election Commissioner, supervises the general elections. The Pakistan Constitution defines (to a basic extent) how general elections are held in Part VIII, Chapter 2 and various amendments. A multi-party system is in effect, with the National Assembly consisting of 342 seats and the Senate consisting of 100 seats (after ex-FATA merger)[1] elected from the four provinces. The Constitution dictates that the general elections be held every five years when the National Assembly has completed its term or has been dissolved and that the Senasorial elections be held to elect members for terms of six years. By law, general elections must be held within two months of the National Assembly completing its term.[2]

History of elections in Pakistan[edit]

Largest faction[edit]

Past elections[edit]

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[3]

The first direct elections held in the country after independence were for the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab between 10–20 March, 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 univrsal basis with approximately one-million voters. The turnout remained low: in Lahore, the turnout was 30 percent 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 to the pan-Bengali nationalist United Front alliance.[4] Incumbent Prime Minister of East Pakistan Mr. Nurul Amin lost his parliament seat to a veteran student leader and language movement stalwart Khaleque Nawaz Khan in Mr. Amin’s home constituency Nandail of Mymensingh district. Nurul Amin’s crushing defeat to young Turk of United front alliance effectively eliminates Pakistan Muslim League from the political landscape of the then East Pakistan.

The 1970 Pakistani general election, was the first direct general election after independence of Pakistan from British India. After a decades-long struggle, the military government was forced to transfer power to democratically-elected officials. In East Pakistan, the election was portrayed as referendum on self-governance for the Bengali citizens of Pakistan, who made up nearly 55% of Pakistan’s population and were yet not given rights consistent with those of West Pakistanis.

The election was won by the Awami League, having 167 seats out of 313, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was to be the first democratically-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. But the military government, at the request of opposition leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, refused to transfer power to the elected Parliament, causing the beginning of the Bangladesh Liberation War.


Political parties’ performances in general elections under military government(s)
Political parties 1970 1985
Awami League (AL)

160 / 300

0 / 345

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)

81 / 300

0 / 345

Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI)

4 / 300

61 / 200

Pakistan Muslim League (PML)

9 / 300

96 / 200

PML (Council) (PML-C)

4 / 300

0 / 200

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI)

7 / 300

8 / 200

PML (Convention) (PML (C))

0 / 300

National Awami Party (Wali) (NAP(W))

6 / 300

2 / 200

Pakistan Democratic Party (PDP)

1 / 300

0 / 200


16 / 300

33 / 200

Total Seats
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
Voter turnout 63%.0 52.9%

All data and calculations are provided by Election Commission of Pakistan as the public domain. The general elections in 1985 were non-partisan general elections, but many technocrats belonged to the one party to another.

General elections from 1977 to 2013[edit]

After the Liberation of East Pakistandemocracy returned 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 Pakistan Peoples Party, or PPP.

In 1988, the general elections were held again which marked the PPP coming in power but dismissed in two years following the 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 colladpse. The general elections in 1993 saw the PPP forming government after successfully seeking plurality in the ParliamentPrime Minister Benazir Bhutto made critical decisions during her era, ranging from working to strengthening the education, defensand e, foreign policy and pressed her policies hard to implement her domestic progams 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, Pakistan Muslim League (N), or PML (N), ging 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 Musharrawho accuseding 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, bepreventg Sharif and Benazir Bhutto from keeping the public office. With Zafarullah Jamali becoming the Prime miMister in 2002, he left the office for Shaukat Aziz in 2004. AfT deadly 9/11 attacks in the United States and Musharraf’s unconditional policy to support the American war in thghanistan, 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 wibyhe left-wing alliance, futo rther consolidated n opposition to Musharraf, though it was plagued with loadshedding, law a-and-der situation, foreign policy issues, and poor economic performances. In elections held in 2013, the PML (N) won 166 seats in the National Assembly and formed the government.

By zeeshan

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