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National elections 1990.

National Elections 1990

Islami Jumhoori Ittehad had a landslide victory in both national and provincial elections. It was felt that there was low turnout of voters in the Elections 90. This was noticed by all important observers who predicted that the turnout would be less than 40 per cent but the official statistics now released show that votes polled had actually gone up by 1.7 per cent to about 45 per cent.

The overall voters' turnout in 1988 elections was 43.07 per cent against a turnout of 44.77 per cent this year. However, the turnout during the 1985 elections remained the highest with 53.69 per cent. The IJI, which got a decisive victory in the elections by bagging 105 seats, polled 36.86 per cent votes, showing an increase of 6.70 per cent as compared to the previous elections.

The PDA having bagged only 45 NA seats, polled 36.84 per cent of the total votes showing a decrease of 1.68 per cent. In 1988 elections, 38.52 per cent votes were cast in its favour by the electorate. As many as 26.09 votes were polled in favour of the rest of the parties which contested NA elections including MQM. The MQM bagged 15 seats.

In the Punjab, where PDA received a serious setback, at the hands of IJI, 49.40 per cent of the votes were polled in favour of IJI, an increase of 12.18 per cent as compared to that of 1988 elections. On the other hand the defeated party, PDA, went down slightly in percentage terms in this province. It got 38.64 per cent votes this time. Presently 38.64 per cent of the Punjab voters exercised their right in favour of Ms. Bhutto's PPP which got only 14 seats out of a total of 114 on which elections were held this year. The polling in one constituency in the Punjab was postponed due to the death of an IJI candidate.

Haq Parast won 15 seats while 21 seats have gone to independents. JUI (Fazal) and Awami National Party headed by Mr. Abdul Wali Khan, who himself lost in the election, had got six seats each. The rest of the seats have gone three to JUP (Noorani), two each to Jamhoori Wattan Party and Pakistan National Party and one to Pakhtoon Khwahmilli Party. Prominent Party leaders including Mr. Wali Khan, former Speaker Meraj Khalid, veteran leader Nasrullah Khan, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, Information and Broadcasting Minister, Syeda Abida Husain, former NWFP Chief Minister, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, Mr. Mumtaz Bhutto and Hafeez Pirzada have lost in the elections.

The leaders who had won included Mr. Mohammad Khan Junejo, Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, Ms. Benazir Bhutto, Mrs. Nusrat Bhutto, Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Khar and former Speaker, Mr. Hamid Nasir Chattha and Syed Fakhar Imam.

Ex-Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, alleged mass rigging in the elections. She alleged that it was pre-planned. Almost 34 persons were killed during the polling. The Government media alleged that 20 were IJI men. A French observers team sent by the International Federation of Human Rights (IFHR) observed that "Sophisticated fraud contributed to the victory of the IJI." According to the IFHR report at certain polling stations results were not taken to the election officials (returning officers) and bogus votes were stuffed. The report stated that at various places certified copies of the vote count were not given to the candidates and their polling agents. Ms Bhutto demanded repolling for as many as 100 seats.

While the accusations and counter accusations about rigging are going on the nation has to decide who would be the future Prime Minister of Pakistan. The main contenders are Nawaz Sharif, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and Mohammad Khan Junejo. Observers feel that PML is the largest component party in the alliance and Mian Nawaz Sharif deserved this post. However, Mohammad Khan Junejo would be suitable candidate if Sindh card is considered. Junejo is also the president of the largest party in the alliance. The choice of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi has no weight and therefore he could be easily dropped.

The in-fight in the COP and IJI has started. The Haq Parast Group appears to be the worst sufferer. Jamaat-e-Islami has no equation with the Haq Parast Group and Mr. Altaf Hussain demanded that Jamaat should be expelled from the IJI otherwise the MQM would sit on the opposition benches. This would become apparent in the next few days.

The new government would be besieged with serious economic issues in the near future. Already the Gulf crisis has posed several challenges. Mian Zahid Sarfaraz's adverse comments on the foreign aid that Pakistan would be left with no other option but to default on the debt service payment if aid was stopped. It is reported that release of the balance amount ($58 million) has become doubtful because of these comments. It is also felt that Pakistan might not get the short term credit of 250 million dollars of one year maturity contracted in 1989-90 and due for repayment in 1990-91. According to reports cash foreign exchange was not available with the State Bank and the country would find it difficult not to default on payment for imports which would arrive after November 1.

It is true that out of every 100 dollars, 90 dollars went back to donors. It is also true that Pakistan needed the remaining dollars very badly to pay for our growing military and civil import needs. In case of default Pakistan would find it difficult to obtain commercial loans at market rates. Stoppage of military aid would affect the defence of the country. Off course the aid in the pipeline has not been affected but the way some IJI ministers were talking would compel the donors to block the aid in the pipeline.

The formation of the new government under the IJI would be a morale booster to the business class. The stock market has taken an upswing and shares belonging to Ittefaq Group have become bullish. There is a possibility that tax holiday at Chunian may be restored. This will give textile industry a boost as most of the new textile mills are located there. However, the overall economic situation would darken this cheerful outlook. The oil price will have to be increased by 40 per cent. The economy is already under strain and the Gulf crisis has placed an extra burden of $2.0 billion. The new government will have to strive for the following:

It will have to increase the revenue base of the country and improve the incredible low saving rate. In the present circumstances Agricultural Income Tax may be introduced. MQM already supports such a proposal and the new government may implement the National Taxation Commission recommendation in this regard.

The non-development expenditure will have to be cut down. The biggest drain in this regard is debt servicing of internal and external debts, which cannot be slashed. These second major burden on the exchequer is that of defence expenditure, which is around Rs. 63 billion.

Exports will have to be raised substantially. Much would depend on how the IJI government manages to restore political stability, deregulate the industrialisation process and above all how they could bring law and order in Sindh which has the only port of Pakistan and is the industrial and commercial hub of the country. IJI constraint in this regard would be that in Sindh the urban and rural mandate remains divided politically and ethnically. At the same time it would also be very difficult for the IJI to restore political stability in view of the great polarisation between the IJI and PPP and the allegation by the latter that there has been massive rigging in the general elections.

The money borrowed from the banks which run into billions should be returned and invested in the national economic mainstream. Simply talking about the welfare of the masses is no more appealing. The road ahead is bumpy and full of dangers.
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Title Annotation:Pakistan 1990 national elections
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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