General Election Of Pakistan 2013 Essay Contest

Further information: List of members of the 14th National Assembly of Pakistan

All 342 seats in the National Assembly
172 seats needed for a majority
Turnout55.02%[1]( 11.01pp)

General Elections result.[3]

General elections were held in Pakistan on 11 May 2013 to elect the members of the 14th National Assembly and to the four provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Elections were held in all four provinces, Islamabad's federal capital territory and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The remaining two territories of Pakistan, the Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, were ineligible to vote due to their disputed status. Allegations on systematic vote rigging, favouritism, and ethnicity trends on political parties marred with controversy regarding the nationwide elections; this eventually led to anti-government march that called for electoral reforms in 2014.

The fifth largest democracy[4] and second largest Muslim democracy after Indonesia in the world,[5] the elections are noted for the first civilian transfer of power following the successful completion of a five-year term by a democratically elected government.[6] Election took place in 272 constituencies, whilst a further 70 seats were awarded to parties having been reserved for women and minority groups; none of the parties achieved the 172 seats needed for an overall majority.[7] The Pakistan Muslim League (N) won the largest number of votes and seats but still fell six seats short; this resulted in a hung parliament where no party was able to command a majority in the National Assembly.[8] Initial results saw the hung parliament for a second consecutive general election—the first being the prior general election in 2008. Potential for a hung parliament was widely considered and predicted as both countries' politicians were better prepared for the constitutional process that would follow such a result, in contrast to 2008.[9][10]

Speculations for the potential hung parliament were dismissed when the independent candidates joined the PML (N) which allowed that party to form a simple-majority government by bringing on-board nineteen independent candidates, thirteen more than the minimum required to form a government. This swing ultimately resulted in Nawaz Sharif becoming the newPrime Minister of Pakistan.[11]

Prior to the elections, the centre-left PPP formed an alliance with PML(Q), while on the conservative side, the PML (N) allied with PML(F) and Baloch parties. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan led the right wing PTI, and the Jamaat-e-Islami also participated in the elections. PPP and PML(Q) saw their vote share plummet, with the former being essentially being wiped out in Punjab. [12][13][14][15]


Main article: Long March (Pakistan)

By Constitution's stipulation on Time of conducting elections in the country, the [general] election are to be held at an interval of five years or whenever parliament is dissolved by the President.[16] Upon dissolution of the National Assembly (a lower house of the Parliament), the elections are to be held within a period of sixty days immediately under a caretaker set–up.[17] The previous elections were held in February 2008 and its term naturally expired on February 2013.

In mid-January 2013, Sufi cleric and politician Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri led a Long March from Lahore to Islamabad, which is over 350 km, demanding the electoral reforms, the quick dissolution of the National Assembly and a precise date for the election. The march attracted about ~50,000 participants from across Pakistan and ended peacefully. However, this appeared to have little impact on the PPP government who continued on as per normal, and were seemingly following their plan as to when to announce elections. The anti-corruption activism led by Imran Khan gathered momentum and political interests.[18]

In the run up to the elections, a US Congressional report provided a brief overview of the PPP government between 2008 and 2013. The annual report included the input of 16 US intelligence agencies, including the CIA, which pointed the policies and performances of the PPP government during their five-year term. The report wanted that "Economically, trouble looms. Pakistan, with its small tax base, poor system of tax collection, and reliance on foreign aid, faces no real prospects for sustainable economic growth. The government has been unwilling to address economic problems that continue to constrain economic growth. The PPP government has made no real effort to persuade its disparate coalition members to accept much-needed monetary policy and tax reforms, because members are simply focused on retaining their seats in the upcoming elections."[19]


Main article: Elections in Pakistan

With assistance from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)announced the printing of computerised electoral rolls, the first of its kind database which resulted in the elimination of 35 million bogus voters off the list.[20]


  • 1 August 2012: The Election Commission of Pakistan announces 2012 general elections would be held on the basis of same old constituencies.[21]
  • December 2012: The Supreme Court of Pakistan orders delimitation of constituencies and door-to-door verification of voters with the help of Pakistan Army in Karachi.[citation needed]
  • 17 January 2013: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) starts door-to-door verification of voters list.[22]
  • 3 February 2013: President Asif Ali Zardari announced the date for the general elections in the country, between 8 and 14 March 2013.[23]
  • 31 March 2013: Last date to submit the candidates' papers.

Caretaker government[edit]

Following the recommendations in Article 224 (Clauses 1A-1B) of the constitution of Pakistan, there arose a need to form a caretaker government to operate in the interim period between the normal dissolution of parliament, facilitating the election process, until a new government was formed after the election results were known.[24] To this effect, prime minister Pervez Ashraf wrote a letter to the opposition leaderNisar Ali Khan, requesting him to propose names of persons for appointment as the caretaker prime minister.

The Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N), Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JI), Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) all agreed on the name of retired senior justiceNasir Aslam Zahid as the caretaker PM until the elections take place.[25] After a failure to achieve a consensus between the PPP government and the opposition, the matter was forwarded to a parliamentary committee of four members from both the government and the opposition.[26]

Under the provision of Article 224-A (Clause 3) of the constitution,[27] the Election Commission announced the appointment of retired Federal Shariat Courtchief justiceMir Hazar Khan Khoso on 24 March 2013 in a press conference held by chief election commissionerFakhruddin G Ebrahim.[28][29] Consequently, Khoso was sworn into office as the caretaker prime minister on 25 March 2013,[30] while his caretaker federal cabinet was sworn into office on 2 April 2013.[31]

Registered voters[edit]

Following is the final list of registered voters in each district of Pakistan who are eligible to cast their vote.[32]

  • The total number of registered voters for the election were 76,194,802.
  • The province of Punjab had the highest number of registered voters.
  • In cities, five districts of Karachi which form the city of Karachi had a total of 7,171,237 registered voters; more than total voters of the province of Balochistan and more than any other city or district in Pakistan.
  • In Balochistan, due to sparse population, some National Assembly seats were shared by two or three districts.
ProvinceDistrictNo. of VotersSeat No
BalochistanDera Bugti63,953NA-265
BalochistanJhal Magsi44,533NA-267
BalochistanKachhi (Bolan)103,108NA-267
BalochistanKilla Abdullah184,832NA-262
BalochistanKilla Saifullah88,424NA-264
BALOCHISTANTOTAL3,336,659NA-259 to NA-272
FATABajaur Agency353,554NA-43, NA-44
FATAF.R. Bannu9,482NA-47
FATAF.R. D. I. Khan22,269NA-47
FATAF.R. Kohat41,070NA-47
FATAF.R. Lakki Marwat9,939NA-47
FATAF.R. Peshawar23,371NA-47
FATAF.R. Tank15,581NA-47
FATAKhyber Agency336,763NA-45, NA-46
FATAKurram Agency262,021NA-37, NA-38
FATAMohmand Agency177,244NA-36
FATANorth Waziristan Agency160,666NA-40
FATAOrakzai Agency125,687NA-39
FATASouth Waziristan Agency200,666NA-41, NA-42
FATATOTAL1,738,313NA-36 to NA-47
Federal AreaIslamabad625,964NA-48, NA-49
Khyber PakhtunkhwaAbbottabad675,188NA-17, NA-18
Khyber PakhtunkhwaBannu444,059NA-26
Khyber PakhtunkhwaBatagram204,980NA-22
Khyber PakhtunkhwaBuner360,019NA-28
Khyber PakhtunkhwaCharsadda704,680NA-7, NA-8
Khyber PakhtunkhwaChitral206,909NA-32
Khyber PakhtunkhwaD. I. Khan606,959NA-24
Khyber PakhtunkhwaHangu214,703NA-16
Khyber PakhtunkhwaHaripur531,866NA-19
Khyber PakhtunkhwaKarak315,087NA-15
Khyber PakhtunkhwaKohat409,372NA-14
Khyber PakhtunkhwaKohistan127,015NA-23
Khyber PakhtunkhwaLakki Marwat330,274NA-27
Khyber PakhtunkhwaLower Dir541,565NA-34
Khyber PakhtunkhwaMalakand311,172NA-35
Khyber PakhtunkhwaMansehra742,674NA-20
Khyber PakhtunkhwaMardan987,122NA-9, NA-10, NA-11
Khyber PakhtunkhwaNowshera619,914NA-5, NA-6
Khyber PakhtunkhwaPeshawar1,393,144NA-1, NA-2, NA-3, NA-4
Khyber PakhtunkhwaShangla296,722NA-31
Khyber PakhtunkhwaSwabi714,454NA-12, NA-13
Khyber PakhtunkhwaSwat981,823NA-29, NA-30
Khyber PakhtunkhwaTank150,585NA-25
Khyber PakhtunkhwaTor Ghar64,867NA-21
Khyber PakhtunkhwaUpper Dir331,004NA-33
PunjabAttock1,022,180NA-57, NA-58, NA-59
PunjabBahawalnagar1,264,077NA-188, NA-189, NA-190, NA-191
PunjabBahawalpur1,522,061NA-183, NA-184, NA-185, NA-186, NA-187
PunjabBhakkar711,837NA-73, NA-74
PunjabChakwal929,747NA-60, NA-61
PunjabChiniot602,290NA-86, NA-87, NA-88
PunjabDera Ghazi Khan1,052,720NA-171, NA-172, NA-173
PunjabFaisalabad3,622,748NA-75, NA-76, NA-77, NA-78, NA-79,
NA-80, NA-81, NA-82, NA-83, NA-84, NA-85
PunjabGujranwala2,273,141NA-95, NA-96, NA-97, NA-98, NA-99, NA-100, NA-101
PunjabGujrat1,581,402NA-104, NA-105, NA-106, NA-107
PunjabHafizabad543,646NA-102, NA-103
PunjabJhang1,145,415NA-89, NA-90, NA-91
PunjabJhelum783,571NA-62, NA-63
PunjabKasur1,463,575NA-138, NA-139, NA-140, NA-141, NA-142
PunjabKhanewal1,301,926NA-156, NA-157, NA-158, NA-159
PunjabKhushab680,471NA-69, NA-70
PunjabLahore4,410,095NA-118, NA-119, NA-120, NA-121, NA-122, NA-123, NA-124,
NA-125, NA-126, NA-127, NA-128, NA-129, NA-130
PunjabLayyah736,509NA-181, NA-182
PunjabLodhran727,177NA-154, NA-155
PunjabMandi Bahauddin815,154NA-108, NA-109
PunjabMianwali757,191NA-71, NA-72
PunjabMultan2,110,177NA-148, NA-149, NA-150, NA-151, NA-152, NA-153
PunjabMuzaffargarh1,681,436NA-176, NA-177, NA-178, NA-179, NA-180
PunjabNankana Sahib623,625NA-135, NA-136, NA-137
PunjabNarowal792,379NA-115, NA-116, NA-117
PunjabOkara1,396,811NA-143, NA-144, NA-145, NA-146, NA-147
PunjabPakpattan823,478NA-164, NA-165, NA-166
PunjabRahim Yar Khan1,904,615NA-192, NA-193, NA-194, NA-195, NA-196, NA-197
PunjabRajanpur724,286NA-174, NA-175
PunjabRawalpindi2,645,608NA-50, NA-51, NA-52, NA-53, NA-54, NA-55, NA-56
PunjabSahiwal1,190,424NA-160, NA-161, NA-162, NA-163
PunjabSargodha1,861,804NA-64, NA-65, NA-66, NA-67, NA-68
PunjabSheikhupura1,341,341NA-131, NA-132, NA-133, NA-134
PunjabSialkot1,841,347NA-110, NA-111, NA-112, NA-113, NA-114
PunjabToba Tek Singh1,089,508NA-92, NA-93, NA-94
PunjabVehari1,285,562NA-167, NA-168, NA-169, NA-170
PUNJABTOTAL49,259,334NA-50 to NA-197
SindhBadin639,314NA-224, NA-225
SindhDadu609,609NA-231, NA-232, NA-233
SindhGhotki568,065NA-200, NA-201
SindhHyderabad923,140NA-218, NA-219, NA-220, NA-221
SindhJacobabad394,557NA-208, NA-209, NA-210
SindhKarachi Central1,632,487NA-244, NA-245, NA-246, NA-247
SindhKarachi East2,093,898NA-253, NA-254, NA-255, NA-256
SindhKarachi South1,131,376NA-248, NA-249, NA-250, NA-251, NA-252
SindhKarachi West1,493,055NA-239, NA-240, NA-241, NA-242, NA-243
SindhKarachi Malir820,421NA-257, NA-258
SindhKhairpur838,502NA-215, NA-216, NA-217
SindhLarkana585,519NA-204, NA-205, NA-207
SindhMirpur Khas585,262NA-226, NA-227
SindhNaushahro Feroze600,090NA-211, NA-212
SindhSanghar793,397NA-234, NA-235, NA-236
SindhShaheed Benazirabad668,193NA-213, NA-214
SindhShikarpur488,878NA-202, NA-203
SindhSukkur527,635NA-198, NA-199
SindhTando Allahyar286,956NA-223
SindhTando Muhammad Khan230,554NA-222
SindhTharparkar471,831NA-229, NA-230
SindhThatta663,543NA-237, NA-238
SINDHTOTAL18,963,375NA-198 to NA-258


With the announcement of the care-taker government, campaigning from parties—including the PPP, PML (N) and PTI—started as early as 27 March, six weeks ahead of the 11 May election date.[33] Observers noted that different parties stressed on different interest groups – PTI on the disaffected youth, PML-N on the centre-right constituency, PPP on liberal classes and rural Sindhis, and MQM on Karachi-based muhajirs. Power shortages were another issue in the election campaign.[34]

Pakistan Peoples Party[edit]

Main articles: New Left, Socialism in Pakistan, and Centre-left

Founded in 1968, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is a centre-left and left oriented party, with a mainstream agenda of promoting socialist economics and social justice. The PPP announced that Bilawal Zardari would be its candidate for the next Prime Minister, though Zardari was still too young to become Prime Minister. Article 62 of the Constitution clearly states that the Prime Minister must be a person who is "not less than twenty-five years of age and is enrolled as a voter in any electoral roll for election to the seat".[35] Zardari was not 25 until September 2013.[36] On 5 May 2013, it was revealed that Zardari had left Pakistan for Dubai and would not be present at all on election day. He unexpectedly left the country and would not be addressing any party rallies or meetings. The PPP also announced that he would not return until after the elections are over.[37]

The PPP's campaign was led by Amin Fahim, accompanied by notable leftist activists such as Taj Haider, Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, and Yousaf Gillani.[38] The PPP ran two different political programmes during the election campaign: "Massawat" (lit. Egalitarianism) and "People's Employment Programme" for the youth voters, and also its vintage "Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (lit. Bread, Cloth, House) slogan.[39] The PPP highlighted its implementation of the nationalization and welfare programs that were launched in 2008.[39] In addition, the PPP greatly supported awareness of industrial and labor rights, importance of higher education in the country, promotion of social economics, a foreign policy of building relations with Russia and Eastern Europe, counterterrorism legislation, efforts to reduce gas shortages in the country.[40][41] Generally, the PPP's main focused was on gathering its support from Sindh.[2] In a critical editorial in the English-language newspaper, The Nation, the PPP neglected to highlight the prevailing issue of energy conservation to reduce the repeated cycle of loadshedding in the country.[41]

Soon after the PM’s last address on 16 March 2013, TV carried live broadcasts from the streets of Lahore and Karachi, where the public mood was one of anger over corruption, the bad economy, and faulty public services. The reaction of political analysts was mixed, with many holding massive corruption and nepotism as the reasons for the government's perceived failures. Even in his televised address, while trumpeting the occasion, PM Raja P Ashraf quietly conceded that his government had also been a source of disappointment for many. Public resentment had been fed by an endless list of problems: enduring power shortages [up to 18 hours a day at the peak of summer]; the failure to curb terrorist attacks, protect religious minorities and formulate a coherent anti-terrorism strategy; slow and weak response to the floods; sluggish economic growth, a bloated public sector, cresting inflation; and tales of legendary corruption, carving out private fortunes from a treasury to which they scandalously paid little in tax. Many Pakistanis, particularly among the urban middle classes, were looking to the next elections with relief.[42]

In Karachi and other parts of the country, the PPP also maintained a New Left alliance with the ANP, MQM, and Communist Party against the conservative parties in Sindh.[43]

Pakistan Muslim League[edit]

Main articles: New Right, Centre-right, and Conservatism in Pakistan

The Pakistan Muslim League, a centre-right conservative party, began its campaign on terminating the energy conservation crises, and also the issues involving the national security, economic development, higher education, immigration, and taxation reforms.[44] The campaign was led by Nawaz Sharif, who emphasis the success of the privatisation to alleviate youth employment and small businesses, introducing policies for the environmental preservation, building motorways, counterterrorism legislation, economic liberalisation, improvement of the public transportation in all over the country, and then the decision of authorising the nuclear-testing programme in 1998.[45] Over several days, Sharif delivered speeches and visited in all over the country for the support, promising that: "Just like the nuclear blasts, conducted in our last tenure, made us an atomic power, an economic explosion in our next term will turn the country into a commercial powerhouse."[46][47] Furthermore, the PML(N) indicated to bring a balance on civil-military relations with the military, through opening a source of political channel to resolve issues.[48]

The PML(N) ran a political programme which was termed as "Ilmi aur Maashi Dhamaka" (lit. Education and Economic boom) at the public circles, and gained a lot of public support from all over the Punjab, and the financial support from the business community in Karachi, which proved to be a crucial factor in PML(N)'s efforts to gain majority in the elections.[49] After delivering a victory speech on May 2013, Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister for a third term on 5 June 2013 after receiving vote of confidence in the Parliament. He received 244 votes in the 342-seat parliament.[50] The PML(N) was generally supported by PML(F) against the PPP in Sindh and BNP in Balochistan, also against the PPP.[51] Terming it as "EEE programme" for Education, Energy, Economy, the PML(N) popularise its slogan "Stronger Economy–Strong Pakistan", which was released in 2012.[52]

Addressing to the national via news channels representatives, the PML(N) debated that aside from balancing the energy conservation, ending stagflation as well inflation, and resolving the issues relating to counter-terrorism and national security, its quick economic recovery programmes is also aimed to increase the expenditure on education, health, food security, and "non-pension" social security from the annual GDP by 2018, as part of the policy measurement programmes.[53]

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf[edit]

Main article: Third Way

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is a conservative and welfarist political party a mainstream political programme of supporting the "Third Way" and "welfarism".[54]

In the midst of election campaign, the PTI's chairman, Imran Khan, called for an inter-party elections for the leadership of the PTI. Many renowned individuals were defeated in the intra-party elections, such as Arif Alvi who was replaced by Pervez Khattak as secretary-general and Ejaz Chaudhary who defeated Ahsan Rasheed. Imran informed the media that no-one from his party will be eligible to hold the post of the party chairman for more than two terms. Motives behind this inter-party elections were to will ultimately finish off the "dynasty-type, family limited companies politics" from the country, as Imran Khan maintained.[55]

The PTI rigorously campaigned on social awareness, social reforms, telecommunication, and the expansion of the e-government in all over the country.[18] Other main points of PTI's campaign was to end the role of country in the War on Terrorism and to regulate private schools' fees structure with the quality of education they provide.[18] The PTI targeted the left-wing policies of PPP and the corruption that took place in state-owned enterprises after underwent through the nationalisation programme, started in 2008 by the PPP.[18]

During a campaign rally in Lahore, Imran fell 14 ft as he was stepping off an improvised forklift. He was seen to be bleeding and unconscious with a gash on his head. He was then taken to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital

Results of the 2013 Pakistani General Election

  Pakistan Muslim League (N)

  Pakistan Peoples Party

  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

  Muttahida Qaumi Movement

  Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam

  Pakistan Muslim League (F)

  Pakhtun-khwa Milli Awami Party


  National Peoples Party

  Pakistan Muslim League (Q)

  Qaumi Watan Party

  All Pakistan Muslim League

  National Party (Pakistan)

  Balochistan National Party

  Awami Jamhuri Ittehad Pakistan

  Awami Muslim League

  Pakistan Muslim League (Z)

  Awami National Party


  Repoll ordered


File photo

Pakistani voters appear divided on many questions of the day – including who to vote for in the upcoming elections and what issues are most critical for the country at present – according to the Political Barometer, an opinion survey conducted by the Herald in partnership with the Sustainable Development Policy Institue (SDPI), an Islamabad-based think-tank.

Of those respondents who say they have registered for the upcoming elections, 29 per cent expressed an intention to vote for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). 24.7 per cent pledged support for the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PMLN) while 20.3 per cent indicated a preference for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Mind the generation gap

The survey’s findings indicate that the PTI’s support is derived from all age groups – 22.9 per cent of those between 18 to 35 years, 18.6 per cent of those between 36 to 50 years, 18.4 per cent of those between 51 to 70 years and 7.7 of those above 70 years support the PTI, dispelling the notion that its vote bank is rooted in the younger generation.

The highest proportion of those aged between 36 to 50 years (32.5 per cent) indicate a preference for the PPP. Similarly, 46.2 per cent of those aged over 70 expressed a preference for the PMLN.

Compared with respondents’ voting histories, the PMLN’s vote bank appears to have remained stagnant while the PPP’s seems to have declined significantly.

It appears that the PTI has a stronger urban base, while a higher proportion of rural respondents indicated that they would vote for either the PPP or the PMLN in the upcoming elections.

The ethnic vote

Predictably, the highest level of support for the ruling party was pledged by Sindhis, 55 per cent of whom said that they would vote for the PPP in the impending elections.

This was followed by Seraiki-speakers at 46 per cent.

Forty-four per cent of Hindko-speakers said that they intended to vote for the PMLN, closely followed by Punjabis at 43 per cent.

The same proportion of Hindko-speakers – 44 per cent – also expressed an intention to vote for the PTI, indicating a close contest between the two parties (PMLN and PTI) within that particular demographic.

It is worth noting that while 34 per cent of Pakhtuns stated that they would vote for PTI, only 11 per cent expressed the same vis a vis the Awami National Party (ANP).

47 per cent of Baloch said that they would vote for the Balochistan National Party–Mengal.

Money matters

On average, approximately a third of those earning up to 30,000 rupees each month indicated a preference for the PPP whereas, among those earning more than 30,000 rupees, support for the party dropped to 10.8 percent.

This is in keeping with the party’s traditional pro-poor image.

No such trend could be determined for the PMLN, whose level of support remained similar across all income levels.

Those earning in excess of 250,000 rupees each month (the highest identified income bracket in the survey) expressed the maximum intention to vote for either the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) or the PTI, at 33 per cent each.

While this figure may appear anomalistic in the MQM’s case – support for the party within the second highest income bracket (those earning between 100,000 and 250,000 rupees each month) was only four per cent – it was possible to identify a rough direct trend between level of income and support for the PTI.

In general, it appeared that support for smaller parties declined with increasing levels of income.

It’s the issues, stupid

From a given list, respondents identified — in the following order – poverty, corruption, power crises, illiteracy and extremism as the top five issues crucial to the country today.

No issue received more than 17 per cent of the vote, a possible indication of a divided electorate.

A marginally higher percentage of respondents belonging to lower income brackets identified poverty as an issue of concern, while a higher proportion of those at higher levels of income identified – albeit again by a small margin – corruption as a ‘crucial issue’.

A similar proportion of urban and rural respondents (12 per cent each), considered corruption to be an issue that has not been effectively addressed by the current government — an assessment perhaps linked to the prevailing perception (55.6 per cent, according to survey responses) of the ruling party as being the most corrupt.

While 59 per cent of respondents rated the performance of the government as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, the ruling PPP nonetheless emerged as the party that the highest number of respondents (27.1 per cent) said would be most effective in addressing the identified issues.

Urban respondents appeared more dissatisfied with the current government’s performance, with 63 per cent rating it as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. Dissatisfaction was also slightly more pronounced with increasing education-levels of respondents.

10 per cent of those earning less than 3,600 rupees a month deemed the current government’s performance to have been ‘excellent’ while 23 per cent, conversely, rated it as ‘very poor’.

In contrast, 54 per cent of those earning in excess of 250,000 rupees a month considered the government’s performance to have been very poor.

Indeed, based on the survey’s findings, it is possible to state that those at higher income levels appear relatively more disgruntled by the current government – a conclusion somewhat surprising given that among the top five ‘crucial’ issues identified by respondents, at least two – poverty and illiteracy – are of greater concern to those earning lower levels of income.

For respondents with higher levels of education, extremism, political instability and interprovincial problems appeared to be issues of greater concern, whereas those with little or no education deemed inflation, gender discrimination and food shortages as bigger problems.

Getting out the vote

Approximately 21 per cent of respondents admitted to never previously having voted in an election.

There appeared to be a negative correlation between inclination to vote and levels of income – 38 per cent of those earning above 250,000 rupees a month stated that they had never voted before, as compared to 13 per cent of those earning less than 3,600 rupees.

Despite this, however, those within the highest income bracket were most likely (at 38 per cent) to have been a member of a political party.

Similarly, while a greater number of respondents from urban areas say that they have been members of a political party (17 per cent) and claim to have been active participants of an election campaign (23 per cent), their political involvement did not necessarily appear to translate into electoral participation.

29 per cent of urban dwellers profess to have never voted in an election while 85 per cent of rural respondents have voted in at least one election with 46 per cent having voted in three or more elections.

Moreover, while it would appear that higher levels of education may result in greater political participation, 87 per cent of those with no education claimed to have voted in three or more elections, while approximately 38 per cent of those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher professed to have voted in the same number of elections.

Ninety four per cent of respondents, however, have said that they have registered to vote in the upcoming elections, a figure that bodes well for a country with plummeting rates of voter turnout.

Based on survey findings, it would seem that the electoral playing field will be closely contested this time round between the PPP and the PMLN, with the PTI not far behind. In light of this, who will be at the helm of the incoming government?

Five scenarios

According to Dr Abid Suleri, executive director at SDPI, things may unfold in in a number of ways come elections, giving shape to five distinct scenarios.

Scenario 1 The PPP forms an electoral alliance with its current allies: the Awami National Party (ANP), MQM and the Pakistan Muslim League–Quaid-e-Azam (PMLQ); while a grand anti-PPP alliance, comprising the PMLN, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) but not the PTI, simultaneously takes shape.

Based on the findings of this survey, in this first scenario, the PPP and its allies may be able to secure 38.1 per cent of the vote. A grand anti-PPP alliance, which discludes the PTI, may secure 29.5 per cent. Together with the PTI, this grand opposition alliance may give the PPP a difficult time.

Scenario 2 Alternatively, the PPP forms an electoral alliance with its current allies, the ANP and the PMLQ – but not the MQM, which opts for the grand anti-PPP alliance. Here too, the PTI chooses to remain alone.

In this instance, the PPP and its allies would likely capture 33.9 per cent of the votes. An opposition alliance could secure with ease 33.7 per cent. This scenario would also result in the formation of a minority government, albeit a weaker one with a more formidable opposition. Either the PPP and the PTI would form the opposition to a PMLN-led government or the PMLN and the PTI would do the same against a PPP-led government.

Scenario 3 In this scenario, the PPP forms an electoral alliance with its current allies, the ANP, the MQM and the PMLQ – while the PMLN and the PTI form an opposing alliance. In this case, the PTI and the PMLN would, with 45.0 per cent of the votes, comfortably sail through the elections, forming a comparatively stable government at the centre. They may be joined by a number of other anti-PPP parties.

Scenario 4 The PPP and the PTI form an electoral alliance, while the PMLN forms a grand opposing alliance. In this instance, the PPP and the PTI would receive 49.3 per cent of the votes, and easily form a stable central government.

Scenario 5 The PPP forms an alliance with its current allies, while the PTI and the JI form an alliance; concurrently, the PMLN forms an alliance with the JUI and other anti-PPP parties. In this instance, the PPP and its allies would receive 38.1 per cent of the vote, the PTI and JI pairing would capture 23.9 per cent of the votes, while the PMLN led alliance would receive 25.9 per cent.


So, what electoral outcome seems most likely?

Politics in Pakistan is predicated on uncertainty but, according to Dr Suleri, there’s a high chance that the third and fourth scenarios may never materialise.

Moreover, given that the country is far from being a homogenous entity where support is spread uniformly across all constituencies, the actual outcome may be entirely different from the ones described above.

Indeed, in the first-past-the-post electoral system, percentage of votes scarcely translate into a similar proportion of seats in the National or provincial assemblies.

It is evident, however, that no single party currently stands to sweep the upcoming polls.

It also appears, based on survey findings, that the PPP may have to retain its current allies to maintain its present political clout – and that, amidst the traditional PPP-PMLN toss-up, the PTI is emerging as a political reality.

What is most certain, says Dr Suleri, is that whoever does manage to form the government will most likely have to contend with a strong opposition. Moreover, if responses collected in the Political Barometer are any indication, it may also find it difficult to figure out what issues to tackle first, in order to soothe an electorate clamouring for change.


Whereas many surveys conducted in Pakistan base their sample along provincial demographics, the Political Barometer’s sample of 1,283 respondents was based on Pakistan’s ethno-linguistic identities -- the Baloch, Hindko-speakers, Pakhtuns, Punjabis, Seraiki-speakers, Sindhis, Urdu-speakers and others.

Stratified sampling was used to reflect voter preferences across ethnicities, genders, age groups, urban or rural localities, education levels and income brackets.

An abridged version of this survey appeared in today's Dawn. Full results of the survey, which was carried out in 54 districts by a team of around 100 interviewers, can be found in a special supplement distributed alongside the February issue of the Herald. 

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