Byline: Syed Tahir Hussain Bukhari, Abdul Basit Mujahid and Syed Akmal Hussain Shah
Pakistan was going through a very crucial period in the context of the August 17, 1988 incident in which President General Zia ul Haq along with American Ambassador and top brass military officers like General Akhtar Abdul Rahman and Brigadier Sidiq Salik were blown to ashes. The nation was in turmoil and the role of Acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan new COAS General Aslam Baig Mirza was vital. In that context the leadership in power decided to announce Party based elections.
The Elections 1988 were held under uncertain conditions. They had certain unique features also. The assurances from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Gen. Aslam Beg about holding elections in time and pledge of caretaker governments for impartial and just elections were praiseworthy. Different political parties, political alliances and independent candidates were participating in elections. The Army, judiciary, and caretaker governments remained impartial which enhanced the level of political maturity and public interest.
The elections of 1988 were contested under the politics of electoral alliances. The formation of electoral alliances at the time of elections is a routine matter in the culture of multi party system. The political organizations at different levels become active to prove their utility. Different political parties cooperate with each other; the small parties get benefit from alliances. They easily get support for their candidates and their interests are safeguarded.
Many electoral alliances were established at the eve of October 1988 election.1 i.e Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), Pakistan Awami Ittehad, (PAI) Democratic Front, NPP (Khar group) with Jamiat Ahli-i-Sunnat adjustment, confidential seat adjustment between PPP and JUI(F), Awami National Party, Sindhi Baloch Pakhtoon Front, Balochistan National Alliance, Punjabi Pakhtoon Ittehad. The most important alliance was IJI formed against PPP. The alliance had its power base in Punjab mainly. Later on, after election 1988 it confronted actively against PPP's federal government which became the main root cause of bitter centre-province relations. It resulted in lawlessness and disorder which proved fatal for onward political developments.
The formation of electoral alliance is a normal routine during elections in Pakistan. Mostly, they are established in opposition to the ruling party. The opposition parties collaborate with each other against ruling political party but the elections 1988 were held in the atmosphere of rebirth of democracy. The ruling regime did not wish to lose their position. The establishment was at its service. It was for the first time in the history of Pakistan that an electoral alliance named Islami Jamhoori Ittehad was established comprising ex ruling stalwarts from all political parties against PPP.
PPP had emerged then as strong democratic force. All allied parties of IJI were lagging behind and were not able to challenge it individually. It had become a countrywide popular and organized party. The right wing parties gathered under the banner of IJI to contest the forth coming elections with a chance to get collective success. For that purpose the right wing party leaders had to create consensus among them unwillingly. The apparent situation was in the interest of PPP because PML was divided into two factions on the issue of dissolution of Junejo government, one supporting Junejo and the other was supporting Zia under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, one an equal partner of power while the other deprived of power. After the demise of Zia mutual cooperation or understanding between both became out of question.
Junejo was principally criticizing the role and authority of provincial caretaker governments. Both groups were in search of their supporters to enhance their utility. Fida Muhammad Khan as front man laid the foundation of IJI.2 Junejo also responded to establish an alliance with JUP (Noorani) and Tehrik-i-Istaqlal of Air Marshal (Retd.) Asghar Khan, under the banner of Pakistan Awami Ittehad.3 Maulana Noorani was nominated as convener of Ittehad and Gen. Retd. M.A. Ansari4 as Secretary General. Maulana Noorani stated 'there is an electoral alliance for the period of five years and will nominate joint candidates.5 JUI(F) , Pakistan Democratic Party and Jamat-i-Islami also contacted mutually for joint alliance.6
The residence of Dr, Sarfraz Mir (NPPP) Islamabad was the hub of activities for the establishment of IJI. The first session was attended by three JI leaders i.e Prof. Ghafoor Ahmed, Prof. Khurshid Ahmed and Ch. Rehmat Elahi.7 JI presented its reservations in the form of five points regarding the assurance for conduct of elections, release of Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) workers, and withdrawal of cases against them and to reinstate the workers of JI in different trade unions. JI did not attend the second session but later on joined IJI on October10, 1988.8
As a result of initial negotiations IJI was established on October 5, 1988. After the joining of JI and other parties Prof. Ghafoor Ahmed was nominated as Gen. Sec. and Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi as President.9 To establish the alliance at large scale eleven political parties and...