ISLAMABAD, May 1: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has earned five more years as president after 98 per cent of the voters, who cast their ballot, approved his agenda, the Election Commission said on Wednesday.

It was announced officially that out of a total 43.39 million people who used their right of franchise, 40.02 million endorsed his policies.

According to the figures released by the Election Commission after the CEC’s live speech on TV and radio, the voters’ turnout stood at over 70 per cent.

Out of the total votes polled, 98 per cent stamped the “yes” column, giving the president additional five years, starting from the date when the new parliament holds its first session.

According to Chief Election Commissioner, Justice (retd) Irshad Hasan Khan, the total number of voters in Pakistan is 61.90 million.

The Referendum Order, 2002, states: “If the majority of the votes cast in the referendum are in (the) affirmative, the people of Pakistan shall be deemed to have given democratic mandate to Gen Pervez Musharraf to serve the nation as President of Pakistan for a period of five years.”

The period would “enable him, inter alia, to consolidate the reforms and reconstruction of institutions of (the) State for the establishment of genuine and sustainable democracy, including entrenchment of local government system, to ensure continued good governance for the welfare of the people and to combat extremism and sectarianism for the security of the State and tranquillity of society.”

The period of five years would be computed from the first meeting of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) to be elected as a result of general elections to be held in October, 2002.

Under the roadmap given by the Supreme Court on May

12, 2000, the military government has to hold elections to national and provincial assemblies and Senate before October 12, 2002.

The question whether Gen Pervez Musharraf has become president of Pakistan for five more years by virtue of the referendum, is yet to be decided by the parliament or by the apex court.

The Supreme Court, in its recent judgment approving the Referendum Order, 2002, had refused to consider the question of “consequence of referendum.”

The court had observed: “We would not like to go into these questions at this stage and leave the same to be determined at a proper forum at an appropriate time.”

It had been argued before the Supreme Court that holding of referendum was a futile exercise as again Gen Pervez Musharraf would have to go to parliament for validation of all his acts.

The identical exercise carried out by previous military ruler, General Ziaul Haq, had to be validated by the parliament which came into existence as a result of partyless general elections. The name of Gen Ziaul Haq still exists in the Constitution of Pakistan in Article 41-7.

Chief Election Commissioner, flanked by four members of the Election Commission, in his speech said that it was a “difficult task” in which EC had been successful. He also thanked the judiciary for conducting “fair and realistic” referendum.

The CEC announced that 85,566 “conventional” polling stations and 2,978 “non-conventional” polling stations were established throughout the country.

APP adds: The Chief Election Commissioner Irshad Hasan Khan said out of the total votes cast, 883,676 went against the president, whereas 282,935 votes were declared invalid.

He lauded the services rendered by all those affiliated with the referendum exercise, including members of Election Commission, polling staff and other functionaries assisting in the process.


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