Election Watch Update - Feb 6

Law Minister Farooq H. Naek has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan to reverse its ban on diversion of funds and recruitment for government jobs before the elections.

Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat, a former minister, quit the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and has opted to contest elections as an independent candidate. He won the NA-88 Jhang-III constituency in 2008. Hayat is also a petitioner in the rental power projects case ongoing in the Supreme Court.   

Law Minister Farooq H. Naek has developed a working paper for discussions with political parties on the elections, including legal opinions on issues such as the dissolution of assemblies.

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has called for legislation that would allow Pakistanis living abroad to vote. He also claimed that there is a conspiracy to delay elections.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has said that it has nothing ‘personal’ against noted lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir, whose name reportedly featured on a PML-N list for caretaker prime minister nominees. The PTI says its objection to Jahangir is based on her reported criticism of the party and that she has ‘little respect’ for the superior judiciary. Speakers at a rally organized by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a coalition of over 40 religious-political parties, also opposed Jahangir as caretaker prime minister.

The PTI has also called for the ECP to be ‘reconstituted’, though it has faith in the chief election commissioner. It is also open to electoral alliances with political parties that are not part of the current government. The PTI also said President Asif Ali Zardari should resign because as co-chairperson of the PPP, impartial elections cannot be held while he is president. The president is barred from participating in the election campaign.

Awami National Party leader Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said that militants could increase their activity during the elections.

The ECP sent notices to over 20 members of the Punjab Assembly in connection the dual nationality case, which has seen several elected representatives being disqualified on account of being dual national citizens. In a meeting today, the ECP is also set to look at the mechanism for scrutinizing candidates.

Commentary:

Muhammad Ziauddin looks at the different kinds of pre-poll rigging in Pakistan and the debate to scrutinize candidates for the election under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. Ziauddin also looks at a scenario that people are reportedly hoping for – that the Supreme Court takes over the ECP – which he says would not happen. – The Express Tribune