Election Watch Update - Mar 15

The current National Assembly – the lower house of the Pakistani parliament – has set a record by being the first assembly to complete 650 required sittings. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will give his farewell address to the nation on Saturday.

The Supreme Court has declared the amended nomination forms issued by the ECP legal.

Dawn and The Express Tribune profile the caretaker prime minister nominees. It also looks at the step-by-step guide for appointing one.

The Pakistan Peoples Party launched its election manifesto on Thursday, focusing on poverty alleviation. It also aims to eradicate polio by 2018, increase the minimum wage to Rs18,000 and promises to protect religious minorities. The manifesto is available here.

The banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat says it will ‘review’ its policy towards the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, after the party brought PML-Q legislator – and a vocal ASWJ critic – Sheikh Waqas Akram on board.

Retired judge Tariq Pervez Khan and former Inspector-General Police Abbas Khan are the leading contenders for the caretaker chief minister position in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has thrown a spanner in the works by questioning why a Mohajir – loosely decoded as an Urdu-speaking migrant from India who settled in Karachi or Hyderabad at the time of the subcontinent’s partition – cannot be selected as caretaker chief minister of Sindh. On Wednesday, the Sindh Assembly Opposition Leader Syed Sardar Ahmed – who is also an MQM legislator – said opposition parties had completed discussions on a caretaker chief minister nominee. Dawn reported that the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and the National Peoples Party have floated the names of former UN ambassador to Pakistan Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Khair Mohammad Junejo and Mohammad Aslam Sanjrani, while the ‘likeminded’ breakaway faction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid has recommended retired justices Syed Sajjad Ali Shah and Sadiq Leghari, as well as Dr Mohammad Azim Almani.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam faction led by Fazlur Rehman wants an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after talks with the PPP fell through.

Commentary:

Nusrat Javeed writes about politicians switching parties and the sense among some PPP members that the caretaker prime ministers have been chosen by ‘powerful lobbies’. – The Express Tribune

Dr Pervez Tahir looks at the PML-N’s focus on the economy in its election manifesto and says the numbers quoted don’t add up. – The Express Tribune