Election Watch Update - Feb 5

Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim told Dunya that army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has assured him of the army’s support for the elections and that elections will be held under the military’s ‘supervision’

A planned sit-in outside the Election Commission of Pakistan’s office in Islamabad was postponed on account of rain. Representatives of opposition parties will meet the ECP on February 6 instead. Opposition parties presented a memorandum to an ECP official, which included an expression of their support to the commission, and demands for a transparent verification of voters in Karachi, removal of governors from provinces in the caretaker government and condemned those who were conspiring against the commission.

Political parties that are part of the current government are expected to decide on a candidate for caretaker prime minister on January 29.

Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali said in an interview that his party would not ally with the Pakistan Peoples Party for the election campaign. The ANP has been an ally of the government and runs the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has announced a series of public rallies to be held after February 15 in Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, Sukkur and Rawalpindi to demand electoral reforms.

Dawn analyses that the PPP will have a challenge meeting the demands of the PML-N and Dr Qadri. PPP leaders told Dawn that they believed that opposition parties were trying to create more trouble for the government.

The News reports that the ECP may consider relaxing its ban on new government jobs. In its meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, the ECP will also look at identifying new polling stations and the updated electoral roll.

In a meeting with the Jamaat-e-Islami, the PPP has suggested the Nawab of Bahawalpur Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi and Justice (retd) Arif Mehmood Chaudhry as caretaker chief minister of Punjab. The Jamaat-e-Islami has recommended columnist Dr Safder Mehmood and former Lahore High Court chief justice Mian Allah Nawaz for the position.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and the PPP are trying to resolve their differences after the PML-Q objected to PPP Punjab President Manzoor Wattoo’s attempt to lure defectors from the party.

Commentary:

Asha’ar Rehman looks at the hunt for a caretaker prime minister, noting that political parties appear to be delaying the process, hoping that the ‘chief security officers’ will deliver a name. Rehman also says that the names that have been discussed appear more like a wish list, and that a politician as caretaker prime minister may just be the boost democracy needs in Pakistan. – Dawn

Dr Maleeha Lodhi critiques the PPP’s ‘conspiracy rhetoric’ and says that the party will be judged on its performance, and not its ‘fanciful narrative’. Lodhi advises political parties to look at the findings of a recent International Republican Institute poll when evolving campaign strategies. – The News

Rasul Baksh Rais discusses the impact of young voters in the next elections, and says that they need a credible leader and a message of ‘real change’. – The Express Tribune