For the last 7 general elections in Pakistan, the voter turnout has been a dismal below 50 per cent with only one exception, of 2013 when the voter turnout went up by a mere 5 per cent to 55. In its 71 years of existence, Pakistan has voted only for 9 times and the country’s history has been marred by the military rule that counts for more than 30 years out of the 71.
Let’s have a look at all the general elections of Pakistan
In 1977 general elections, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto managed to return to power after he became the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1973 (after the liberation of Bangladesh President Yahya Khan had resigned and Bhutto became Prime Minister).
But after the elections, reports of ballot rigging and political murders surfaced, prompting the Pakistan Amry General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to dispose of him in a military coup. Bhutto was executed by General Zia, who died in a plane crash later. After his death, Army allowed general elections in 1988 and that was the first time when voter turnout dipped below 50 per cent. It remained the same for the next 25 years.
After Zulfikar Bhutto’s execution, public sentiments for his daughter converted into votes and Benazir Bhutto formed the government in 1988.
However, the real conflict for power started when Nawaz Sharif, a protege of Zia-ul-haq started contesting elections.
General elections were held in 1990, 2 years after coming to power. The Islami Jamhoori Ittehad party, a conservative front led by Nawaz Sharif, came to power, but the voter turnout remained a dismal 45.5 per cent.
General elections were again held before the tenure of the government due to a reported power struggle between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1993. Benazir Bhutto came to power and was elected the Prime Minister for the 2nd time, but her party Pakistan People Party (PPP) could not manage to emerge the single largest party.
Bhutto’s government was dismissed byPresidentt Farooq Leghari for concerning matters of national security and elections were held in 1997.
In the 1997 general elections, for the first time, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) of Nawaz Sharif won a landslide victory.
The coming elections of 2002 and 2008 were again reportedly rigged and with Army’s meddling. It was 2013 when for the first time in the country’s history a democratically elected government that had completed its tenure.