Election Watch Update - Mar 12

The Election Commission of Pakistan has decided to start printing nomination forms with its proposed amendments and will not be waiting for President Asif Ali Zardari’s approval on these. The amendments – which include submitting a considerable amount of personal and financial data – have been opposed by the Law Ministry.

Despite reports that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had agreed to dissolve the Punjab Assembly by March 16 in order to ensure that elections for the National Assembly and provincial assemblies are held on the same date, the party said on Monday that this was ‘conditional’ on an agreement on the caretaker government.

The Awami National Party has received 485 applications from candidates looking to contest elections, up from 185 in 2008, according to party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan.

The Jamaat-e-Islami will also be starting its election campaign on March 23 with a rally in Peshawar. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has a rally scheduled for the same date in Lahore, where it plans to announce its election manifesto.

Thirty five political parties, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, have applied for election symbols. The MQM has asked for a kite, and the PML-Q for a bicycle.

Former finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh – whose name has repeatedly been circulated as a caretaker prime minister nominee – reportedly asked PML-N leader Ishaq Dar for the party’s support of his candidacy.

The provincial election commissioner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the assistant election commissioner in Mohmand Agency have asked the government and political parties respectively to remove billboards put up by political parties that do not meet the size requirements set by the ECP.

Commentary:

Huma Yusuf writes about the bill to increase representation of minorities in parliament that was not passed by the National Assembly. According to Yusuf, it isn’t just politicians to blame but the electorate needs to take responsibility for this deferment as well. - Dawn