General Elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan on 18 February 2008
after being postponed from 8 January 2008, the original date to elect members of
the National Assembly of Pakistan, the lower house of the Majlis-e-Shoora (the
In the wake of state of emergency declared on 3 November 2007 by Chief of the
Army Staff Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's Information Minister Tariq Azeem said
that elections are now "on the back burner", with no date set. However, it
was later stated they would be held as planned. Musharraf stated on 8
November 2007 that the election would be held by 15 February 2008. He later
called for the election date to be on or before 9 January 2008. Even later,
he suggested 8 January 2008 as the election date. Following the assassination
of Benazir Bhutto, the Election Commission announced after a meeting in
Islamabad that a January 8 vote was no longer possible and the election would
take place on 18 February.
and government of
Muhammad Mian Soomro
Chairman of the Senate
Supreme Judicial Council
Federal Shariat Court
Provincial High Courts
Federal High Court
* Political Parties
Muttahida Qaumi Movement
Pakistan Muslim League (N)
Pakistan Muslim League (Q)
Pakistan Peoples Party
* Local Government
Code of conduct
A code of conduct for the election has been proposed by the Citizens Group on
Electoral Process (CGEP) to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the
political parties. This suggests that all stakeholders should agree a set of
rules as early as possible, in order to provide a level-playing field for a fair
There have been concerns from the United States that Pakistan has not been
doing enough to assist in the war on terrorism. Musharraf has rejected such
claims, stating "The fight against terrorism and extremism, whether it is al-Qaeda
or Taliban, can never succeed without Pakistan’s cooperation and Pakistan is the
only country that has delivered the maximum on both. We are tackling them with
30,000 troops. If there is anybody who is not doing enough, it is others who are
not doing enough." Opposition parties, especially the religious Muttahida
Majlis-e-Amal coalition, are opposed to Pakistan's role as ally of the United
States in the War on Terrorism.
Fairness of elections
A number of opposition parties have called for the resignation of President
Pervez Musharraf to ensure free and fair elections under a caretaker
government. On 8 July 2007, opposition parties issued a declaration of their
demands for the elections. The parties included are the Pakistan Peoples
Party, Pakistan Muslim League (N), and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal. Regarding the
election, the declaration had the following clauses:
* The formation of a caretaker government of national consensus, in
consultation with the opposition parties to hold free, fair and honest
elections. Its members will not contest the elections.
* The appointment of a neutral Chief Election Commissioner and members of the
Election Commission in consultation with the opposition parties.
* The dissolution of local governments three months prior to the holding of
the general elections.
* The caretaker government of national consensus shall appoint officers with
no political affiliation in Election Commission, federal, provincial and
* Repeal of all discriminatory election laws, to ensure even playing fields and
the implementation of fair election proposals.
* Implementation of the jointly agreed criteria for holding of fair and free
* To keep under review the steps being taken to ensure free, fair and honest
elections and to collectively through consensus take any decision which may
include a boycott of elections in the extreme case at the appropriate time.
* To firmly resist collectively the machinations of the regime to postpone
the general elections by imposing emergency or under any other pretext.
* To struggle collectively for the removal of dictatorship from Pakistan and
confine the role of the armed forces to that prescribed in the Constitution of
1973. It demands immediate withdrawal of military personal from all civilian
departments and posts. It demands closure of the political cells of all the
military, security and intelligence agencies.
Small and negligible parties opposed to Musharraf have joined together in a
loose political alliance called All Parties Democratic Movement; the Pakistan
Peoples Party (PPP), the largest opposition party, is not a part of this
As Musharraf has stated that the elections will be held under the 2007
Pakistani state of emergency, at least three parties have stated they will
boycott such elections, fearing that they would not be free and fair: the
Pakistan Muslim League (N), Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehreek-i-Insaaf.
The opposition parties jointly stated that the elections could not be fair,
as most opposition candidates were in jail under the state of emergency and thus
unable to file nomination papers for the election.
On 23 November 2007, PPP members were given the go-ahead to register for the
elections, while still reserving the decision to boycott the election.
Imran Khan, the Tehreek-i-Insaaf leader, restated his call for a boycott on
23 November 2007, the day the APDM was to decide on whether to boycott the
Upon his return to Pakistan on 26 November 2007, Nawaz Sharif stated he would
run in the elections only if the state of emergency was lifted before the
polls, and that he would not serve as Prime Minister under Musharraf.
However, Sharif's candidacy was rejected on 3 December due to his prior criminal
On 10 December 2007, Sharif and Bhutto finally announced they would not
boycott the election, despite their fears that the election would be neither
free nor fair.
In a November 2007 poll, the PPP lead with 30%, followed by Sharif's PML-N
with 25% and Musharraf's PML-Q with 23%. Tehreek-e-Insaaf had 6%, Muttahida
Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) 4% and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) 2%.
The 2008 Pakistani election was dealt a great shock on 27 December 2007 when
Benazir Bhutto was assassinated while leaving a rally in Rawalpindi. Bhutto's
assassination raised many questions as to whether the general election would be
postponed. Following the fatal attack, Pervez Musharraf held an emergency
meeting with other government officials, but stated that "no decision had been
made on whether to delay the national elections."
Bhutto had "become an appealing solution" to United States officials
frustrated with President Musharraf's failure to restore democracy to Pakistan,
The New York Times said.
Sharif stated after the assassination that his party would boycott the
election. He later stated that his party would take part if Bhutto's PPP
contests the election. The PPP then decided to name Bhutto's son, Bilawal
Bhutto Zardari, the new party leader with his father Asif Ali Zardari as
co-leader, as asked for in Benazir Bhutto's testament. The party also decided
that it would contest the elections and stated that the elections should be held
The Pakistani Election Commission announced after a meeting in Islamabad that
a January 8 vote was no longer possible and the election would take place on