The political history of Pakistan from 1947 to 1970 witnessed no general elections. Thus, when Yahya’s Regime decided to hold the first general elections on the basis of adult franchise at national level, they were not only required to make a new mechanism but were also required to set up a permanent election machinery. A three-member Election Commission was set up and Justice Abdus Sattar was appointed as the first Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan.
The first task before the Election Commission was to enroll as voters all citizens of Pakistan who were at least 21-years old on October 1, 1969. The electoral rolls were put before the masses for corrections on January 16, 1970, and after necessary amendments, the final list was published on March 17. The total registered voters in the country were 56,941,500 out of which 31,211,220 were from the Eastern Wing, while 25,730,280 from the Western Wing. The Election Commission also marked the constituencies, in accordance with the seats allocated for the National and Provincial Assemblies under Legal Framework Order, 1970. One hundred and ninety nine Returning Officers were appointed for the National Assembly and 285 Returning Officers were appointed for the Provincial Assemblies.
Twenty four political parties participated in the elections. They were allowed to begin their election campaigns from January 1, 1970. The public meetings of Awami League in Bengal and Pakistan Peoples Party in the Punjab and Sindh attracted huge crowds. Awami League mobilized support on the basis of its Six-Points Program, which was the main attraction in the party’s manifesto. While Z. A. Bhutto’s personality, his socialistic ideas and his slogan of “Rotti, Kapra aur Makan”, meaning food, clothing and shelter, were the factors that contributed to the popularity of Pakistan Peoples Party. The rightist parties raised the religious slogans, while the leftists raised slogans based on regional and communistic ideas.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003