Election Watch Update - Mar 14

The government's reported nominees for the caretaker prime minister position are former finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who recently resigned from the cabinet, former judge Mir Hazar Khoso and former State Bank of Pakistan governor Dr Ishrat Hussain.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has asked the Election Commission and the government to officially respond on the right of Pakistanis based abroad to vote in the elections. The ECP and the government have said in the past that this would require legislation and measures at consulates/embassies et al that would not be possible to do for this year’s elections.

The ECP says the government is not on board with a proposed amendment in the election laws to have daily monitors for a constituency or a group of constituencies.

The government has started to release the Rs5 billion grant to the ECP for its election fund. This includes Rs500 million for the army and Rs1 billion for printing ballot papers and other forms. Details of the grant are available here [PDF].

ECP workers in Balochistan went on strike on Wednesday to protest the murder of the district election commissioner.

Arbab Rahim, the former chief minister of Sindh and the head of the PML-Q ‘likeminded’ faction arrived in Lahore after over four years in self-imposed exile in Dubai. Rahim met with Punjab chief minister and PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore and is set to travel to his constituency to start his election campaign. Rahim’s seat in the Sindh Assembly (PS-60 Tharparkar-I) was declared vacant last year because he was absent for 40 consecutive sittings of the assembly.

PML-Q legislator Sheikh Waqas Akram (NA-89 Jhang-IV) has joined the PML-N. Akram is a vocal critic of the banned anti-Shia group, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which is now known as the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat.

The National Database and Registration Authority will give its list of Karachi voters to the ECP this week.