Pakistan’s general election in 2024 covers four provinces, one federal territory, 146 districts, 266 general National Assembly (NA) seats and 593 general Provincial Assembly seats.
The total population reached 241.5 million in the country’s first digital demographic census, approved by the PML-N-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government just four days before the dissolution of the National Assembly, setting events in motion for the general election.
The number of registered voters stands at 128.5 million (128,585,760). Male voters represent 53.87% (69,263,704) of the total electorate, while 46.13% (59,322,056) are female voters. Punjab, Pakistan’s most-populated province, has a total of 73,207,896 registered voters. Sindh comes next with 26,994,769 voters, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 21,928,119 voters. Balochistan has 5,371,947 voters, while the federal territory of Islamabad includes 1,083,029 voters.
To ensure an effective election exercise, it is crucial to have maximum participation of voters from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, particularly young voters. When an entire generation can influence a hashtag on social media, youngsters can likewise have an impactful role in driving electorate mood. 18.29% (23,518,371) of voters are from the age group 18-25 and those above 65 years come up close to 10% (12,292,130) of the overall voter force.
Three Cs — Composition, Contestants & Constituencies
The National Assembly of Pakistan is composed of 266 general seats, 60 seats reserved for women and 10 seats designated for minorities. In case of provincial assemblies, out of the 593 general seats, 132 seats are set aside for female candidates and minorities are eligible to contest 24 seats.
5,121 candidates are vying for National Assembly seats, while 12,695 candidates are contesting for provincial assembly seats.
Out of the total 17,816 candidates, 11,785 are running as independents while the rest belong to 167 registered parties. Punjab province, with the largest population, constitutes 141 seats in the National Assembly, attracting 6,710 provincial nominations. Meanwhile, 1,273 candidates are in the run for Balochistan provincial assembly. It is Pakistan’s largest and least populated province with 16 National Assembly seats.
Three constituencies—NA-48 Tribal Area-IX, NA-10 Shangla and PK-23 Shangla-I—recorded low women turnout (less than 10%) in the 2018 elections. Polling suspended in four constituencies: NA-8, PK-22, PK-91, PP-266 this time.
Who Gets Elected and What’s The Magic Number?
The nation-wide poll is poised to elect members of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies in four provinces and one federal territory. The provinces include Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, along with the Islamabad Capital Territory.
A party/coalition needs to win 134 of the general seats (169 including reserved seats) to form the government.
Polling Stations & Security Personnel
The country’s electoral body trained 976,000 poll workers to run 276,398 polling booths across 90,675 polling stations. The final polling scheme includes 50,944 stations in Punjab, 19,006 in Sindh, 15,697 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and 5,028 in Balochistan.
The federal government deployed over 500,000 armed personnel, including civil forces and policemen to aid law and order. This was done in response to a request from the Election Commission of Pakistan citing shortage of 277,558 security officials.
Budget and Ballot Papers
Fighting time constraints and shortage of special security paper, 260 million ballot papers were printed for the 2024 elections using an estimated 2170 tons of paper. In comparison, 800 tons of paper were used to print 220 million ballot papers for 11,700 candidates in the 2018 general election. The Election Commission of Pakistan also shrunk the size of ballot paper to meet deadlines. Close to half a million (449,287) opted to cast postal ballot votes this time. The projected cost for conducting the 2024 elections stands at Rs 47 billion–an increase of 26 billion rupees compared to previous polls.
In numbers (words)
Ten million new male voters added to electoral roll, nine grenade attacks in Balochistan targeting election staff and aspirants, eighth of February is the election date, seven in 10 Pakistani citizens lack trust in electoral process (as per Gallup survey), six general seats reduced (from 272 to 266) in the National Assembly following 2023 delimitation, five percent of general seat tickets to be reserved for women by each party, four transgender individuals are taking part in the elections this time, three resolutions passed by senate to postpone polls, two ballot paper votes will be cast–for national as well as provincial assembly and one party contesting without official electoral symbol.
Past results and Present key candidates
The last general elections in Pakistan took place on July 25, 2018. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) helmed by charismatic cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan received 16.8 million votes and was adjudged the winner with 116 seats in the National Assembly. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by Nawaz Sharif won 64 seats through 12.8 million votes and 6.9 million voters chose Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) belonging to Bilawal Bhutto and his father Asif Ali Zardari, which secured 43 seats. Another 6 million votes fell into the accounts of independent candidates.
This time, however, Imran Khan is barred from elections following his conviction in back-to-back cases. Moreover, his party has been stripped of its iconic cricket bat electoral symbol for allegedly floundering intra-party elections and forcing party members to contest on separate symbols akin to independent candidates.
Imran Khan’s absence has paved the way for PML-N supremo and three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to emerge as a clear frontrunner in this year’s election. He is contesting from NA-15 and NA-130. Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s younger brother and former PM, is contesting from NA-123 and NA-132. Other members of the Sharif family include Maryam Nawaz (NA-119) and Hamza Shehbaz (NA-118).
Bhutto scion and PPP’s prime ministerial nominee, the youthful Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is throwing his hat in three constituencies: NA-127, NA-194 and NA-196. His father Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairperson of the party and former President, who led a successful transition of power to a civilian government, is vying for the National Assembly from NA-207.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa heavyweight and chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan (JUI-F) is contesting from two National Assembly seats: NA-44 and NA-265. JI (Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan) chief Sirajul Haq is contesting from NA-6. JI, JUI-F along with other political parties were part of a religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) that won 12 seats in the 2018 general election. Saad Hussain Rizvi, chief of another conservative party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is pursing his chances from NA-50 and NA-160.
Parting ways with PTI and Imran Khan, Jahangir Khan Tareen founded a new party Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) and hopes to be successful in NA-149 and NA-155. Pervez Khattak, another politician who split up with PTI, floated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Parliamentarian (PTI-P) and is contesting from NA-33.
Former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani and his son Ali Musa Gilani are representing PPP from NA-148 and NA-151, respectively. Two MQM-P (Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan) leaders Syed Mustafa Kamal and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui are contesting from NA-242 and NA-248, respectively.
Pasthun politician and former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Ameer Haider Azam Khan Hoti has chosen NA-22, an Awami National Party (ANP) stronghold. Also contesting (NA-25) from the same party is provincial chief Aimal Wali Khan, great-grandson of ‘Frontier Gandhi’.
Disqualified and incarcerated, former foreign minister and Imran Khan’s aide, Shah Mahmood Qureshi has fielded his daughter Bano Qureshi from NA-151. PTI chairperson, barrister Gohar Khan, is contesting from NA-10. Former Punjab governor Mian Muhammad Azhar is representing PTI from NA-129.
Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao is stationed from NA-24. Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai is contesting from NA-263 and NA-266.
Five-time minister and former leader of opposition Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan is contesting as an independent from NA-53 and NA-54.
Direct elections are underway for 266 seats in the National Assembly and 593 seats in four provincial assemblies. The Election Commission of Pakistan is required to publish official results within 14 days of the election.