Pakistani referendum, 2002

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A referendum on allowing Pervez Musharraf to continue as President for five years was held in Pakistan on 30 April 2002.[1] The proposal was approved by 97.97% of voters.[1] However, the referendum was boycotted by the opposition on the basis that it was unconstitutional.[2] Although turnout was reported to be 56.1%,[1] the opposition claimed it was between 5% and 7%.[3] The poll was criticised for being "marred by gross irregularities" by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.[4]


Pervez Musharraf came to power in a military coup on 12 October 1999. According to Musharraf this step was necessary in order to eliminate turmoil and uncertainty from the country. After becoming Chief Executive of the country, he removed President Rafiq Tarar from office, assuming the post himself. Although the country had been under military rule, in 2001 the country was declared to be returning to democracy. However, before being elected Prime Minister through elections, a referendum was held. This was done in order to see whether the general population was supportive of Musharraf. He claimed that holding a referendum was abiding by democratic laws, despite the constitution of Pakistan not containing a reference to electing Presidents by referendums.[5]


The referendum was seen by many as a sham or fixed. Opposition parties including Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League referred to the decision of Musharraf as inappropriate and urged citizens to boycott voting.[6] In response, the voting age lowered from 21 to 18 and the number of polling stations increased by ten times. However, the voting had been done without the placement of certain guidelines including identification cards.


Choice Votes %
For 42,804,000 97.97
Against 883,676 2.03
Invalid/blank votes 282,676
Total 43,970,352 100
Registered voters/turnout 78,300,000 56.10
Source: Direct Democracy