Election Watch Update - Feb 28

The Supreme Court has dismissed the Election Commission’s concerns and an application to defer the court’s directive on redrawing constituencies in Karachi. The ECP insists that there is not enough time for a census – a prerequisite before constituencies can be redrawn – before the elections, however the court says that holding a census is not essential and the ECP should implement the court’s directive.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has formally asked Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to promise nominees for caretaker prime minister.

In the third such clarification from the military establishment, Defence Secretary Lt. Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik said on Wednesday that the army would not interfere in or monitor elections. “There is no political or election cell in any agency, nor does the military intend to interfere in the election,” he said.

Law minister Farooq H. Naek met with representatives of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) to gain an agreement on holding elections for the National Assembly and provincial assemblies on the same date. According to the JUI-F, the law minister’s agenda also included discussing the JUI-F’s support in passing a bill against domestic violence as well as lifting governor’s rule in Balochistan.

The Sindh Bachao Committee – an alliance of ten political, nationalist and religious parties – has formally joined the PML-N and PML-F’s coalition in the province.

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has been elected president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Punjab chapter. The party is holding internal polls to be declared eligible to contest elections in the country.

Commentary:

Hamid Mir studies the pre-election scenario with politicians jumping ship from one party to another. Mir also echoes General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s recent briefing to journalists on how important the election and the next two years are for Pakistan. On a side note, Mir also quotes President Asif Ali Zardari saying that his new, much talked about residence in Lahore is not a gift from someone but the president exchanged previously bought land to build it. – Jang (Urdu)

Nazir Naji looks at scenarios in which political parties are unable to decide on a caretaker prime minister, and also shows concern at the fact that prime ministers are not interested in financial affairs. – Dunya (Urdu)