History of Elections in Pakistan
Whenever they hear the word elections in Pakistan, Pakistanis imagine it as “ill-actions”. The nation is not to be blamed for this grotesque image of the word because the previous experiences have not been pleasant. Pakistan was founded on 14th August 1947 and for the first fifteen years, no elections were held. The main reason behind this was that the constitution had not been finalized.
The first elections in Pakistan were held in 1962 by the military ruler Field Marshal Ayub Khan and the next in 1965. Ayub Khan contested the elections against Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and defeated her; however he was accused of heavily rigging the elections. The only fair elections held in the country were perhaps under the tenure of General Yahya Khan in 1970. The outcome of these polls was that West Pakistan came under the rule of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party whereas Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League Party made a clean sweep inEast Pakistan. Later in 1971, after a bloody crisis, East Pakistan sought independence to become Bangladesh.
The next time the nation went to polls was in 1977. These elections were held by the Bhutto government and the government was accused of gross rigging and malpractices by its opponents. Curfew was imposed in most part of the country as the people had refused to accept the results and taken to rioting. Finally army moved in and Zia ul Haq ousted Bhutto and promised to hold fair elections within three months. However this was never to happen Zia instead held a referendum and got himself elected. In 1985 elections on non-party basis were held by the Zia regime and Zia prolonged his rule to eleven more years before being killed in a plane crash.
Elections were again held in 1988 and thus began a musical chair play of power between PPP and PML. In he first round (1988) PPP won and Benazir Bhutto became the prime minister of Pakistan. However after 20 months in 1990 the nation once again went to the polling booths as Benazir’s inefficient government was dismissed by Ghulam Ishaq Khan. This time it was PML’s turn to win and Nawaz Sharif became the prime minister of Pakistan. Differences between the president and the prime minister sent Nawaz Sharif packing and once again elections were held with PPP emerging as the winner this time. Benazir’s second term as a prime minister met the same fate and this time her government was sacked on the charges of corruption in 1996.
The 1997 elections ushered Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister and this time differences with the army chief General Pervez Musharraf caused Nawaz Sharif to lose his government in 1999. Musharraf became the chief executive and in 2002 held a referendum and elections which saw him being elected as the president and a section of PML which became independent and now went as PML Q was elected to form the government. In 2007 Musharraf got himself elected as the president again and to avoid any legal challenges sacked the judiciary.
According to Musharraf new elections were to be held on 8th January 2008 but were postponed for a month due to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. These elections brought PPP into power.
10th General elections of Pakistan were held in May 2013 and PMLN came into power with a sweeping majority.
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