Election Watch Update - Mar 19

The PPP and the PML-N failed to agree on a candidate for caretaker prime minister on Monday, and the latter has finalized names for a bipartisan parliamentary committee that will have to take up the issue this week.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain said that his party would give 50% of the seats in the legislature to women.

Pervez Musharraf’s party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, is preparing to give him a ‘historic’ welcome when he reaches Pakistan on March 24.

Express News has a list of potential caretaker cabinet members for Sindh, which include representatives from the PPP, MQM, ANP and the Sunni Tehreek. The latter did not have a seat in the Sindh Assembly’s last term. The MQM and the PPP are set to decide on a caretaker chief minister today. The Balochistan Assembly has been dissolved.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has suggested changing the boundaries of 11 constituencies in Karachi, but has refrained from ‘large-scale’ changes because of the lack of information on the population in these areas. The Supreme Court had ordered the ECP to redraw constituencies in Karachi, but the ECP said it would not be able to do so because no population census had been conducted, which was a prerequisite. The court disagrees with this stance.

The Awami National Party is forming committees at the union council and district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to canvas voters. Nawaz Sharif is set to give a speech in Mansehra on March 25.

Dawn speculates whether 2.77 million members of minority faiths in Pakistan can play a decisive factor in as many as 96 constituencies.

Since the PPP is registered with the ECP as the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians, the PPP-Shaheed Bhutto, led by Murtaza Bhutto’s widow Ghinwa Bhutto, and a breakaway group led by Benazir Bhutto’s former aide Naheed Khan, have asked the ECP to allot it the PPP name. Another contender for the name is the Senate leader, who is from the PPP.

The PPP’s former candidate for PP-17 Attock-III, Haji Sardar Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, has quit the party. The party is also facing a challenge in the Lower Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where two groups have emerged and are claiming positions.

Commentary:

Asha’ar Rehman looks at the relationship of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, headed by Pir Pagaro, and Arbab Rahim of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s ‘likeminded’ breakaway bloc, with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. He also discusses the mistakes made by the PPP in alienating its own candidates and supporting members of other parties to appease its allies. – Dawn