Election Watch Update - Feb 1

Minhaj-ul-Quran leader Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri will challenge the formation of the Election Commission of Pakistan and discretionary funds to elected members of parliament in the Supreme Court, since he believes these are ‘unconstitutional’.

The ECP is looking into changing the time period for scrutinizing candidates to 30 days, to implement a demand made by Qadri and agreed on by the government. According to Dunya, an election reforms package that has been sent to the law ministry for approval would include this, but if it does get passed elections will be held in June. Based on the reforms, a returning officer will be able to get information on candidates from the Federal Investigation Agency, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and the National Accountability Bureau. The director-general of the ECP told Dunya that candidates are not scrutinized according to Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.   

Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim said on Thursday that an extension in the caretaker government would be disastrous for the country. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has told the government to ensure elections go ahead. In an order issued on Thursday, the bench stated: “The elections must be held strictly in accordance with the Constitution and that there must not be any apprehensions of derailment of democracy as expressed in the media by some highly reputable parliamentarians like Raza Rabbani.” [PDF] PPP Senator Raza Rabbani has repeatedly said that there is a conspiracy to install a two- or three-year caretaker government.

Ummat reports that the Sindh government has issued an official notification on the ban on recruitment eight days after the ECP announced a countrywide ban. However, the government is planning to seek permission to be able to recruit for jobs in the police and education departments. The report claims that prior to the notification being issued, the Sindh government appointed 45 people to the information department and is also recruiting for the local government department. The government states that the appointments in the education department are being made through the Federal Public Service Commission, which the ECP has not stopped.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has announced that it will protest with other opposition parties in support of the ECP on February 4. PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar said that it was unlikely that the government and opposition parties would agree on nominees for the caretaker government, and the issue will then be resolved by the ECP.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered security arrangements for the head of the ECP as well as the provincial election commissioners and the heads of political parties.

Commentary:

PML-N legislator Ayaz Amir writes that the PPP is not serious about implementing any of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s demands and is using these to ‘needle’ the PML-N. Amir says that President Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are serious about holding elections. – The News