Election Watch Update - Feb 27

Four hundred people have applied for tickets for Awami National Party seats for the National Assembly and provincial assemblies.

The News reports that the Election Commission of Pakistan has taken notice of a recent meeting to approve revised costs for development packages in Gujarkhan, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s constituency. The ECP has banned reallocating development funds to constituencies.

The former head of the PPP in Balochistan Lashkari Raisani, who recently quit the PPP, is planning to join the PML-N.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has submitted a bill in the National Assembly that would give expatriate Pakistanis the right to vote. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has asked the government and the ECP to look at ways to allow Pakistanis to vote abroad, however the government has said in the past that it would be unlikely to go through before the next elections.

President Asif Ali Zardari has asked the law minister to ensure that elections for the National Assembly and provincial assemblies are held on the same date. The law minister is set to meet Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders to negotiate this, since the party controls the Punjab government. The Punjab government will have to announce the dissolution of its provincial assembly along with the National Assembly and other provincial assemblies for elections to be held on the same date. The PML-N is using this as a bargaining chip with the government.   

Political parties have been given a deadline of March 16 to conduct internal polls and notify the ECP so they can be eligible to contest elections in the country.

Three members of the Punjab Assembly have officially resigned: Khalid Mehmood Sargana (PP-78 Jhang-VI), a member of the PML-Q's forward bloc, the PML-F's Dr Asma Mamdoot (W-363) and PML-Q's Haji Muhammad Yaqub Sheikh (PP-77 Jhang-V). Sargana had been disqualified by the Lahore High Court on account of having a fake educational degree

Commentary:

In a policy memo, the CFR's Daniel Markey calls for the US to support the political process in Pakistan over politicians with 'pro-American' leanings. Markey also says the US should reconsider counter-terrorism operations and drone strikes during the election season, noting that the latter should be 'suspended', except in the case of Ayman al Zawahiri and plotters of imminent terrorist attacks. Markey looks at scenarios in which the PML-N or the PTI would come to power and what this would mean for the US. The memo also recommends that the US should avoid doing anything that would be seen as favouring parties etc, such as not expanding support before the elections to the Benazir Income Support Programme. - Council on Foreign Relations