Election Watch Update - Jan 29

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has allocated Rs1.2 billion from the 2011 flood fund to key PPP constituencies in Sindh and Dera Ismail Khan, according to The Express Tribune. The prime minister’s press secretary says the money will go to flood schemes in each constituency, but the move is controversial because the Election Commission of Pakistan has banned the diversion of development funds before the elections.

PM Ashraf will meet with provincial chief ministers to discuss the dissolution of assemblies. The provincial assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh will complete their constitutional terms on March 27 and April 4 respectively, while Balochistan and Punjab will wrap up on April 6 and April 8. Assemblies will need to be dissolved on the same date for elections to be held for the National Assembly and provincial assemblies together.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan has opposed the idea of nominating Asma Jahangir as caretaker prime minister, claiming she is not impartial.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani says there is a conspiracy to install an unelected government for a two- or three-year period.

Maulana Sami-ul-Haq of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Sami) has offered Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to join the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a coalition group of religious-political parties that includes the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the Jamaat-e-Islami. According to Geo News, party chief Nawaz Sharif said he would consider the offer.

Haq also said on Monday that the “nomination of someone who defied the ‘Two Nation Theory’ and the Pakistan ideology as interim Prime Minister would be strongly resisted.”

Former information minister Mohammad Ali Durrani and PPP MNA Nawab Yousaf Talpur’s son Younas Talpur have decided to join the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional. The party also expanded its electoral alliances on Monday to include the Jamaat-e-Islami. It has already formed alliances with the Awami Tehreek, Sindh United Party, Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party,  Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) and the National Peoples Party and is in talks with the PML-N.

However, the PML-F says talks with the PPP are conditional on the withdrawal of Sindh’s Peoples Local Government Act, opposition to which caused the PML-F and the PML-Q to oppose the PPP

Interviews:

Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in an interview with Dunya News on Monday that his goal was to never complete a five-year term himself, but the government had to complete five years. “We had to wear an imam zamin every day,” he said. “Every day you people (referring to the media) would kick us out, and we would come back in every day.”

Gilani said there was a debate within the PPP on negotiating with Minhaj-ul-Quran leader Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, but “we had to toe the party line once a decision was made.”

He said he had no regrets over his stance that the PPP government would not write a letter asking the Swiss government to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, because the president had immunity. Gilani is seeking a review of the Supreme Court decision that saw him disqualified.

In an interview with Najam Sethi on Geo TV, PTI chairperson Imran Khan said that the Supreme Court can clarify that the use of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which outlines the grounds for qualification and disqualification of elected representatives. The condition that members of parliament have to be “sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen (trustworthy)” and of “good character” have recently been the centre of debate in Pakistan and has been used by the court in issuing judgments.

Khan also defended his stance on ‘liberal fascists’, bringing in people into his party who supported Pervez Musharraf, and his stance on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.