On Thursday, February 8, 2024, Pakistan will hold general elections for its National Assembly and provincial assemblies in its four provinces of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. More than 128 million voters across the country are registered to vote in the general elections, with nearly 18,000 candidates competing for 336 National Assembly seats and 749 Provincial Assembly seats. These seats will be filled through a combination of first-past-the-post elections for single-member constituencies as well as the allocation of reserved seats for women and non-Muslims through proportional representation. These elections come at a critical time for Pakistan, as it faces significant economic, security, and environmental challenges that elected leaders will be responsible for addressing in the coming years.
Ahead of this important electoral process, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) provides Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Elections in Pakistan: 2024 General Elections.
Additionally, visit IFES's Election Guide for the most comprehensive and timely verified election information available online.
Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, faces several significant challenges that elected leaders must address in the coming years. Therefore, these elections are pivotal for both the people of Pakistan and the South Asia region. Pakistan was at risk of economic default for much of 2023, and chief among the challenges the country will face is sustaining recent signs of economic recovery. Pakistan mitigated the risk through cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and other international donors. However, the economic crisis and measures taken to combat it took a heavy toll on the people of Pakistan in the form of inflation, commodity shortages, and other impacts.
In recent years, Pakistan has also faced an increase in militant attacks. In 2023 alone, an estimated 1,000 civilians and security forces were killed – the largest number of casualties from such attacks in six years. Regional developments in Afghanistan and elsewhere have contributed to a security context that will continue to challenge Pakistan’s government, especially in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. These dynamics are further complicated by the long-term impacts of devastating flooding in August 2022 that covered one-third of the country; directly impacted 33 million people; and resulted in large-scale displacement, extensive economic losses, and persistent threats to health and livelihoods. Providing ongoing relief to those impacted, and strengthening resilience to future environmental disasters and the impacts of global climate change, will be a critical task for Pakistan’s leadership.
 See Rana, S. (2023, September 6). The Promise and Peril of Pakistan’s Economic Recovery Effort. United States Institute of Peace.
 Report: Terrorist Attacks Kill Nearly 1,000 Pakistanis in 2023. (2023, December 31). Voice of America.
At the national level, Pakistani voters will elect 336 members of the National Assembly. They will fill 266 seats through the single member constituency, first-past-the-post election system, while 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 seats for non-Muslims through a proportional representation party list system based on the number of general seats won by a political party.
At the provincial level, 749 members will be elected across Pakistan’s four provincial assemblies. As with the National Assembly elections, Provincial Assembly seats will be filled through a combination of a single member constituency, first-past-the-post election system (593 general seats in all for the four provincial assemblies) and proportional representation assignment of 132 seats reserved for women and 24 seats for non-Muslims.
Sixty seats are reserved for women in the National Assembly and 132 across the four provincial assemblies. These seats are assigned through a proportional representation system based on the number of seats that parties win through first-past-the-post elections to each assembly.
During the nomination period, 459 women filed to be included as candidates for the reserved seats in the National Assembly, and 1,365 for the reserved seats in the provincial assemblies.
In addition to reserved seats for women, Section 206 of the Elections Act directs political parties to ensure at least 5 percent representation of women in the selection of candidates for general seats. Based on candidate data released by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the total number of contesting candidates for general seats in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies is 22,711, including 1,027 women.
 Stats regarding validly nominated candidates General Seats – GE-2024. Election Commission of Pakistan.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is the election management body in Pakistan. The ECP was established through Article 218 of the Constitution and is mandated to “organize and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.” The ECP comprises a chief election commissioner and four other members, each of whom represents one of Pakistan’s four provinces. All members serve five-year terms.
Article 219 of the Constitution identifies the specific duties of the ECP:
- Preparing electoral rolls for election to the National Assembly, provincial assemblies, and local governments, and revising such rolls periodically to keep them up to date;
- Organizing and conducting elections to the Senate or to fill casual vacancies in the National Assembly, Senate, or a provincial assembly;
- Appointing election tribunals;
- Holding general elections to the National Assembly, provincial assemblies, and local governments; and
- Such other functions as may be specified by an act of Parliament.
Additionally, Article 222 of the Constitution, in delineating the powers of Parliament to issue electoral laws, stipulates that “no such law shall have the effect of taking away of abridging any of the powers of the Commissioner or the Election Commission under this part.”
For the 2024 General Elections, 128,585,760 registered voters are eligible to vote. Among registered voters, 69,263,704 (53.87 percent) are men and 59,322,056 (46.13 percent) are women. Since the 2018 general elections, more than 22 million new voters have been added to the voter list, and 56,864,196 registered voters (44.22 percent) are between the ages of 18 and 35.
Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan states that all citizens are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection, including the commitment that there shall be no discrimination based on sex. Provisions in the Elections Act to support the equal participation of women, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups include the following:
- Section 9 mandates the Election Commission to void the results at one or more polling stations or the election in an entire constituency if the turnout of women voters is less than 10 percent of the total votes polled in a constituency.
- Section 203 directs political parties to encourage women, transgender persons, and persons with disabilities to become members.
- Section 206 requires political parties to ensure at least 5 percent representation of women candidates while selecting candidates for general seats.
- Sections 47 and 48 require the Election Commission to take special measures for the registration of women, persons with disabilities, members of minorities, and transgender persons as voters.
Immediately following the closing of a polling station, its presiding officer conducts the vote count onsite. The only people permitted to be present during the count are contesting candidates, election agents, polling agents, and observers accredited by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Ballots that are deemed valid are counted, sorted according to the candidate for whom the ballot was cast, and placed in packets that are sealed when counting is complete. Ballots deemed invalid are placed in a separate sealed packet. The presiding officer then prepares the polling station’s results by listing the number of votes cast for each candidate and the number of ballot papers excluded from the count.
Immediately after completing the count at the polling station, the presiding officer is directed to take a snapshot of the result and, as soon as connectivity is available, submit it electronically to the ECP and the returning officer for the constituency. After this transmission (or after a determination that such transmission is not possible), the presiding officer must personally deliver the results and all physical documentation to the returning officer.
After receiving all results for the constituency, the returning officer prepares and announces the provisional consolidated statement of results for the constituency. This statement does not include postal ballots cast for the constituency or a review of any ballots excluded from the initial polling station count.
After the provisional results are announced, the returning officer notifies the candidates and their agents of the time and place for the full tabulation of results. As with the polling station count, contesting candidates, election agents, and accredited observers are permitted to observe the preparation of the consolidated result. During this process, the returning officer reviews ballots excluded from the initial count to determine whether they are valid and should be added to the tally for a candidate; counts postal ballots received; and recounts ballots from selected polling stations if a challenge has been made and the provisional vote count meets certain conditions regarding the narrowness of the margin. This consolidation process must be completed within seven days of the election for the National Assembly vote and within five days of the election for the Provincial Assembly. The results are sent to the ECP within 24 hours of the completion of the tabulation.
Section 98 of the Elections Act requires the Election Commission of Pakistan to publish official results within 14 days of the election. For the elections on February 8, this means official results should be announced by Thursday, February 22.
IFES has more than two decades of experience implementing programs in Pakistan. IFES has worked with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and civil society partners to strengthen the election process and promote the inclusion of women, persons with disabilities, young voters, and other marginalized groups through increased access to civic and voter education and voter registration. These partnerships have included conducting initiatives to increase National Identity Card registration in all four provinces; launching the She Leads women’s leadership program, which trained 500 women leaders nationwide to conduct advocacy campaigns; and mobilizing men in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to conduct peer-to-peer outreach around inclusive democratic participation. IFES supported the ECP in the drafting of inclusion provisions in the 2017 Elections Act; establishment of the ECP Gender Wing and Gender and Disability Working Group; development of the ECP’s first two strategic plans, which integrated a focus on outreach to marginalized groups; launch of the nationwide PakVoter voter education platform; and support to civil society partners that led to the implementation of the first election accessibility audit in Pakistan’s history.
These FAQs reflect the provisions of the constitution of Pakistan, the Election Act and Rules, and other information available as of February 2, 2024, to the best of our knowledge. This document does not represent any International Foundation for Electoral Systems policy or technical recommendations.
This paper is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The information herein is provided by the author(s) and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.