Election Watch Update - Jan 30

The Election Commission of Pakistan released its updated code of conduct for the upcoming elections. Candidates and political parties will not be allowed to give any donations or assurances for development programs. Similarly, government representatives will not be allowed to announce any development programs that may skew the elections in favor of one political party or candidate. The president, prime minister and other high-ranking officials in the outgoing and caretaker governments will not be allowed to participate in the election campaign.

The Pakistan Peoples Party has decided to dissolve the assemblies by mid-February. It will also have ‘non-political’ personalities in the caretaker government, and one leader told Dawn that Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United Nations, was an example. A member of Karachi’s prominent Haroon family, he has supported the Kutchi Memon community in Lyari, which has historically been a PPP constituency but which the Haroons once patronized.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Wednesday that the military and the judiciary support the democratic process. The Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry also reiterated his support for democracy during a court hearing and asked the Balochistan government to ensure that people are able to exercise their right to vote.  

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the PPP has completed internal consultations over the dissolution of assemblies and the caretaker government. On Tuesday, political allies discussed possible names for a caretaker prime minister and potential dates for dissolving the National Assembly. Coalition partners have been asked to come up with suggestions.  

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan said in an interview with Geo TV that he has been advised that if his party does form the government, it may have to seek support from the International Monetary Fund, but he knows that “this is a trap”. He also said that there would be 18 ministries if he is the next prime minister.

Commentary:

Tariq Ali and Zahid Hussain predict that a “newly enfranchised generation of voters” and “a massive youth bulge” and “conditions for radical political change” may have an impact in the upcoming elections. – London Review of Books, Dawn

Haroon-ur-Rashid joins in the chorus of those opposing Asma Jahangir as caretaker prime minister, warning of full-fledged protests and alleges that Jahangir wants to ‘remove religion from the country’. – Dunya (Urdu)