Election Watch Update - Mar 13

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has backed the Election Commission of Pakistan after the ECP decided to go ahead and print amended nomination forms without waiting for the president’s approval. The ECP is next set to ensure electoral reforms become law in the country – if the National Assembly does not pass a pending bill, the ECP will ask the caretaker prime minister to have the reforms enacted through an ordinance. The full text of the Supreme Court’s order is available here.

Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim has also refused to meet with a parliamentary committee set up for the elections.

Dr Mubashir Hasan, one of the earliest leaders of the PPP, has asked the Supreme Court to oversee the ECP’s work.

Senators from the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz criticized the ECP’s proposed electoral reforms and amended nomination forms.

District Election Commissioner Ziaullah Qasmi was shot dead on Tuesday in Quetta.

Former president Pervez Musharraf – who is facing a number of pending lawsuits – is set to return to Pakistan on March 24, an aide told Reuters.

The Supreme Court has summoned the Attorney General over a petition against the separate electoral lists for Ahmadis. The court, according to Dawn, will take a stance based on the 1993 verdict in the case Zaheeruddin v/s the State. In the verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the sections of the constitution that criminalized Ahmadis calling their faith Islam.

The National Assembly has passed a bill that exempts candidates from appearing in person to file nomination forms at the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Political parties have incorporated the demand for a separate Hazara province in their election campaigns, but the Hazara province movement leaders are skeptical of these promises.

Opposition parties in Sindh will meet today to discuss names for the caretaker chief minister of the province. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and opposition parties have agreed on two nominees for caretaker chief minister.

Dawn reports that members of the PPP’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter are disgruntled with their party’s ministers attitudes and want people from the middle class to be given seats.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement opened applications for candidates for the next elections.

Commentary:

Nasir Jamal looks at the vague language of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s election manifesto and how the party’s manifesto should have evolved after 2008.Dawn