Pakistani general election, 1990

Pakistan general election, 1990

← 1988 24 October 1990 1993 →

207 of 237 seats in National Assembly
104 seats seats needed for a majority
Turnout45.5% (Increase 2.0%
  First party Second party
  Nawaz Sharif detail, 981203-D-9880W-117.jpg Benazir bhutto 1988 cropped.jpg
Leader Nawaz Sharif Benazir Bhutto
Leader since 16 September 1988 10 January 1984
Leader's seat Lahore Larkana
Seats before 55 94
Seats after 111 44
Seat change Increase56 Decrease 50
Popular vote 7,908,513 7,795,218
Percentage 37.4% 36.8%
Swing Increase7.2% Decrease 1.7%

Prime minister before election

Benazir Bhutto

Elected Prime minister

Nawaz Sharif

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General elections were held in Pakistan on 24 October 1990 to elect 217 members of the National Assembly. They resulted in a surprise victory for Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), a conservative front led by Nawaz Sharif, which won 106 seats. The IJI had campaigned for privatisation and social conservative policies. Voter turnout was 45.5%.[1]


The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by Benazir Bhutto won a plurality of seats in the 1988 election and Bhutto became Prime Minister. However by 1990 there was discontent over rising lawlessness, allegations of corruption and the failure of the government to fulfill the promises it had made during the 1988 campaign.[2]


The PPP ran in the election in a coalition with 3 parties as the People's Democratic Alliance.[3]


By the start of the campaign reports suggested that Bhutto and the PDA were in a stronger position as the caretaker government failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove any charges against her.[4]

At the end of the campaign Bhutto led hundreds of thousands of supporters in a procession in Lahore, while Sharif held a rally for about ten thousand nearby.[5]

Electoral fraud[]

On 19 October 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled on a petition by Asghar Khan, requesting that the court probe allegations that the 1990 elections had been rigged. The court officially ruled that two Army Generals – Mirza Aslam Baig and Asad Durrani (Head of the ISI) – along with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan – had provided financial assistance to favoured parties.[6] The motive was to deliberately weaken the mandate of the Pakistan Peoples Party. It was believed that the PPP, led by Benazir Bhutto, was a liability to the nation.[7]


The outgoing party, the PPP/PDA, lost the elections. IJI won the popular vote by a very narrow margin of only around 100,000 votes, but the narrow victory in the popular vote translated into 106 seats for IJI against the PDA's 44 seats. The popular argument regarding PDA's huge loss of seats is that the PDA's vote, despite being almost equal to that of IJI, was much more spread out whereas IJI's vote bank was more concentrated. This resulted in PDA candidates losing in IJI won seats by narrow margins.

Parties Votes % Seats +/–
Islami Jamhoori Ittehad 7,908,513 37.4 106 +50
People's Democratic Alliance 7,795,218 36.8 44 New
Haq Parast 1,172,525 5.5 15 New
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam 622,214 2.9 6 −1
Awami National Party 356,160 1.7 6 +4
Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (Noorani) 310,953 1.5 3 New
Pakistan Awami Tehrik 237,492 1.1 0 New
Jamhoori Wattan Party 129,431 0.6 2 New
Pakistan National Party 127,287 0.6 2 +2
Pakhtun-khwa Milli Awami Party 73,635 0.3 1 New
Sindh National Front 51,990 0.2 0 New
Pakistan Democratic Party 51,645 0.2 0 0
Balochistan National Movement 51,297 0.2 0 New
Sindh National Alliance 31,125 0.1 0 New
13 other parties 64,470 0.3 0
Independents 2,179,956 10.3 22 −18
Invalid/blank votes 231,568
Total 21,395,479 100 207 0
Source: Nohlen et al.


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume I, p678 ISBN 0-19-924958-X
  2. ^ Crossette, Barbara (6 May 1990). "Crime Weakens Support for Bhutto, Even in Her Traditional Power Base". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  3. ^ Crossette, Barbara (26 September 1990). "Karachi Journal; With the Chips Down, Bhutto's Ace Is Her Father". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  4. ^ Crossette, Barbara (21 September 1990). "Bhutto Gaining as Charges Remain Unproved". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  5. ^ "World". The Seattle Times. 23 October 1990. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  6. ^ Mufti, Mariam (19 June 2018). "Who rigs polls in Pakistan and how?".
  7. ^ Desk, Web (19 October 2012). "Asghar Khan case short order: Full text". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 8 November 2012.