After General Pervez Musharraf sacked the civilian Government headed by Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999, he had assumed the title of Chief Executive. It was claimed that the Army was forced to take this step to save the country from “turmoil and uncertainty”. The General later on also ousted President Rafiq Tarar and himself became the President of Pakistan. After becoming the President, he reiterated his stance of holding elections as prescheduled by his Government in October 2002. But before the general elections, a referendum was held on April 30, 2002 for General Pervez Musharraf to be elected as the President of Pakistan for another five years.
The basic reason for holding the referendum was that the General wanted to abide by democratic principles and establish legitimacy for his rule though in the Constitution there was no provision to become President through referendum. According to the General, he wanted to stay as President in order to continue the economic recovery, ensure social stability, to counter unnamed destabilizing influences, and to eventually return to “true democracy”. The Opposition parties opposed the referendum. A 15-party Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy was set up, including Pakistan’s two main political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League. The alliance considered President Musharraf’s decision as unconstitutional and announced peaceful rallies to oppose it. They called for a boycott of the voting.
General Musharaf needed political support to his referendum . At that time PML-Q and Imran khan were his main sympathizers .On April 9.2002 Imran Khan backed the Referendum, a referendum t0 took place on April 30, 2002, with no competition and no option but to vote for General Musharraf.
” Pakistani cricket legend-turned politician Imran Khan on Tuesday backed the referendum to be held next month to decide the future of President Pervez Musharraf but his fledgling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf headed for trouble as some of its leaders have opposed it openly.” REFERENCE : EXPRESS INDIA
While all other Political parties were opposing this referendum , Chairman PTI Imran Khan openly started campaigning for General Musharaf . Weather it was on ground , Print media or electronic media , Imran stood by a dictator .
According to the Government there were 78 million eligible voters. Eighty seven thousand polling stations were set up, including booths set up at prisons, hospitals, petrol stations, workplaces, and markets. However, there were no voter lists or constituencies, and anyone who could prove his identity and age could vote at any polling station. General Pervez Musharraf has won an overwhelming victory in the referendum to extend his mandate as president of Pakistan for a further five years.Pakistan’s Election Commission said General Musharraf had won with over 97% in favour of him staying in power. According to the figures, turnout was higher than originally predicted – over 56%. But the country’s only independent human rights organisation says the poll has been marred by gross irregularities. The opposition, which includes the main political and religious parties, boycotted the poll, arguing that it was unconstitutional. They estimated turnout at just 5 to 7%. Ahead of the announcement, Pakistan’s information minister, Nisar Memon, said the vote was “a massive victory for the people of Pakistan. “They were not affected by the negative propaganda of the opposition… The opposition has been summarily rejected, and now they should accept the verdict of the people,” he said. ‘Election abuses’ Chief Election Commissioner Irshad Hassan Khan said General Musharraf had won 42.8 million “yes” votes, against 883,676 “no” votes, with 282,935 spoiled papers. “We are satisfied the referendum was conducted impartially and peacefully,” Mr Khan said. But the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (PRCP) has issued a damning statement on the conduct of the referendum. Irregularities “exceeded its worst fears”, chairman Afrasiab Khattak said. “The manner in which the people were hustled into voting and the flagrant abuse of election procedures degraded the very concept of democratic choice,” his statement said. Mr Khattak said observers who were supposed to be neutral had been seen “stamping ballots themselves”. “Voluntary turnout was very low,” he said, with public sector workers being obliged to vote. Many journalists have reported similar irregularities.
One of the worst election abuse ever happened in Pakistan was in that referendum . Money was distributed on a large scale . Journalists are quoting that ” Union Council Nazims were paid in thousands ,Tehsil Nazims was paid in Lacs and District Nazims in millions ” .
“Imran Khan charged 40 million from General Musharaf as he was at the fore front of moves to establish the dictator’s rule ” Said Raja Riaz Senior PPP Leader .
A founding member of PTI disclosed that 40 million was just a gift awarded to Imran Khan after referendum.A huge amount was already funded to Imran Khan for the campaign of referendum
In 2002 PTI has only one National Assembly seat which was won by their leader Imran Khan himself . Imran khan took the referendum as chance to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. Imran Khan demanded 100 National seats from General Musharaf in 2002 election .
Dictatorship of Musharaf and referendum 2002 was a nightmare for Democratic system of Pakistan . Billions of tax payer money was spent in order to put Musharaf in Uniform as well as President of Pakistan for next five years .