Election Watch Update - Jan 21

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) formally entered campaign mode after the December 27 speech by PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Two weeks in, Bilawal may be asserting his ‘youth’ stamp on the party. Sources told Dawn that “the new PPP chief needed to adopt a pragmatic approach for getting rid of seniors and introducing young people” and that “60 to 70 per cent of sitting lawmakers might be replaced by new faces.” Bilawal and President Asif Ali Zardari, who is the co-chairperson of the PPP, are also reviewing the performance of all Sindh legislators of the PPP. Bilawal also received a briefing from Sindh legislators late last year.

The new Punjab governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood’s sons joined the PPP on Sunday. They contested the 2008 elections as part of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) party, led by the Sindh tribal and spiritual leader Pir Pagara. They are: Syed Murtaza Mahmood (PP-295), Syed Mustafa Mahmood (NA-195) and Syed Ali Mahmood.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani reiterated in the Senate on Monday that consulting the army and the judiciary for the interim government was unconstitutional.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) says it will not look for a countrywide electoral alliance but will look at provincial alliances. It is in talks with the PML-F in Sindh, as well as with other nationalist groups and has already merged the Mumtaz Bhutto-led Sindh National Front into its fold. Party chief Nawaz Sharif has recently made overtures to the Akhtar Mengal-led Baloch National Party. The PML-N has denied reports it will ally in Punjab with the banned anti-Shia group, the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat.

The PML-N is confident that it won’t lose ground in Jhelum, Punjab after two of its National Assembly representatives (NA-62 and NA-63) jumped ship to the PPP, along with their father veteran politician Raja Mohammad Afzal.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PML-N will ally with the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman).The PPP is also meeting with the JUI-F and the Qaumi Watan Party for an election alliance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Commentary:

Former Pakistan army chief Mirza Aslam Beg believes that there was a “visible design to create a Shia power base in the country”, linking the protests against attacks on Hazara Shias and the return of cleric Tahirul Qadri. – The Nation

Former law minister Babar Awan, who fell out of favour with the PPP, writes against the doctrine of necessity and the importance of Article 3 of the Constitution, which ensures an end to exploitation and the ‘gradual fulfilment’ of the fundamental principle – Jang (Urdu)