Commonwealth Election Reports

2310-1512 (online)
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Commonwealth Election Reports, the reports of Commonwealth Observer Groups, Missions or Expert Teams, are independently prepared by the team members as a contribution to the democracy and consensus-building in Commonwealth countries.
The General Election in Pakistan, 3 February 1997

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Commonwealth Observer Group
01 Jan 1997
9781848595972 (PDF)

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These Election Reports are the observations, conclusions and recommendations of Commonwealth Observer Groups. The SecretaryGeneral constitutes these observer missions at the request of governments and with the agreement of all significant political parties. At the end of a mission, a report is submitted to the SecretaryGeneral, who makes it available to the government of the country in question, the political parties concerned and to all Commonwealth governments. The report eventually becomes a public document.
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  • Introduction

    The years since Pakistan's return to multi-party elections have been years of controversy, uncertainty and some political turbulence. No government has managed to serve out its full term - the President has dismissed all three, although one was later restored by the courts. Election turnouts have fallen and public cynicism about politics and politicians has grown.

  • Political Background

    Pakistan came into being on 14 August 1947 under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, with a Constituent Assembly elected indirectly by the provincial legislatures, the status of a Dominion and membership of the Commonwealth. It became a republic in 1956, when a new constitution came into force. Until late 1971 Pakistan consisted of two geographical units 1,600km apart, West and East Pakistan, separated by India.

  • The Legal Framework and Preparations for the Elections

    The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (1973) provides a federal structure of government for the four provinces of Balochistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab and Sindh, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Islamabad Capital Territory. It is cast in an essentially parliamentary form but various amendments since 1973 have introduced elements of a presidential system.

  • The Campaign and the Media

    Following the announcement of the election date by the President on 5 November, the Election Commission issued an Election Schedule on 15 December 1996. It was at this point that the campaign formally began, although in fact campaigning had been under way from the point at which the President dissolved the National Assembly.

  • The Poll and Count

    Polling stations were due to open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, Monday 3 February, so our teams of Observers were in place at their designated polling stations from 6.45 a.m.

  • Towards Effective Democratic Governance

    This is the first Commonwealth Observer Mission whose terms of reference include a responsibility 'to propose to the government and other concerned authorities such action on institutional, procedural and other matters as would assist the effective functioning of the elected government' Thus it has been necessary to canvass with Pakistani groups not only their immediate concerns regarding the elections but also their observations on this issue. The observations or proposals we make on this aspect are based on concerns communicated to us and our own understanding of the Pakistan situation.

  • Summary of Conclusions and Suggestions and Acknowledgements
  • Annexes
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