Election Watch Update - Jan 22

The Election Commission of Pakistan has banned recruitment “at the federal, provincial and local government levels with immediate effect” in order to stem governments giving jobs ahead of the elections. It has also banned diverting or spending funds allocated for development projects, after reports surfaced (Dawn, The News, The Express Tribune) that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was diverting funds to his constituency (NA-51, Rawalpindi-II). The full ECP statement is available here.

President Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has formed a three-member committee to develop a strategy for the PPP in Balochistan and look at its organizational set-up. The committee is headed by the Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Shah, a key interlocutor of the PPP, and will present a report in 15 days.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, met with Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam to discuss candidates for the interim government. The meeting is part of a consultative process with all opposition parties. According to The Nation, the PML-N and the PPP may agree on Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai as a candidate.

The Jamaat-e-Islami says that it is considering ‘seat adjustments’ with the PML-N, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The Pir Pagara-led Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) has announced an electoral alliance with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) in Sindh. The ‘broader’ alliance will include the PML-N, the Jatoi family’s National Peoples Party and the Awami Tehreek, led by Sindhi politician Ayaz Latif Palijo.

The PML-F also said it would boycott the upcoming by-elections for six Sindh Assembly seats. The six Sindh legislators resigned in the wake of a Supreme Court verdict that saw several members of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies disqualified for being dual national citizens.

The Sindh Assembly seats in question are – PS-73 Jamshoro-Dadu, PS-84 Thatta-I, PS-101 Karachi-XIII, PS-103 Karachi-XV, PS-113 Karachi-XXV and PS-115 Karachi- XXVII. The by-elections are scheduled for February 18. A by-election is also being held for a Punjab Assembly seat  (PP-239 Vehari-VIII).