Election Watch Update - Feb 23

The Awami National Party and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) have reportedly entered into an ‘electoral adjustment’ in the Charsadda and Mansehra districts. According to Dawn, the JUI-F agreed to working with the ANP on its plan to work with political parties on engaging the Pakistani Taliban factions in talks, and the ANP has agreed to participate in a jirga being organized by the JUI-F on the same issue.

The PML-N is likely to agree to dissolving the assemblies on March 16. It has also reportedly agreed to not objecting to the caretaker chief minister choice in Sindh as long as its choice for Punjab is not opposed to.  

Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Saeed Ghani criticized Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim for calling opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in a sitting of the Senate on Friday. Other senators also brought up the preparations for the elections – or lack thereof – and the need for briefings on progress in the last five years on issues.  

A National Assembly special committee has been set up to discuss procedures for the elections with the ECP and to inform it about how measures such as asking legislators to verify educational degrees had been received.

The ECP clarified on Friday that it was not giving into pressure over the degrees issue. In a statement, the commission said that it was “steadfastly determined to implement the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan in letter and spirit and the process of verification of degrees shall be completed so as to achieve the objective of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan.”

The Supreme Court has told the ECP it can develop a mechanism to allow Pakistanis based abroad to vote. The court has suggested a number of proposals on how it can go ahead with this, but the government has said in the past it looks unlikely to happen this year.

Two independent legislators from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Jawad Hussain and Sajid Hussain Turi, joined the PPP on Friday. Hussain was elected to NA-39 (Orakzai Agency) and Turi from NA-37 (Kurram Agency).