Election Watch Update - Mar 2

Former president Pervez Musharraf announced on Friday that he would return to Pakistan when the caretaker government is in place. Musharraf is also facing a number of court cases, including that of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and the Red Mosque siege in 2007.

Retired judges Nasir Aslam Zahid and Ajmal Mian are reportedly the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s only nominees for caretaker prime minister.

Dunya reports that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are ineligible to contest elections on account of not submitting balance sheets and completing internal polls respectively. The MQM denies the allegation.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik met with MQM chief Altaf Hussain to discuss seat adjustments for the next elections. Malik has been a key interlocutor for the PPP in negotiations with the MQM.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah says that nominees for the caretaker government in the province have not been finalized yet.

Two PPP legislators – Senator Safdar Abbasi and MNA Nasir Ali Shah – who have been openly critical of the party in recent years, have challenged the PPP’s internal elections and requested the ECP to declare the party ineligible for contesting general elections.

Dawn reports that columnist and PML-N legislator Ayaz Amir (NA-60 Chakwal-I) will most likely not get a ticket for the next elections.

Qaumi Watan Party head Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao has kicked off his election campaign and will start receiving applications from potential candidates today. The party is also looking at seat adjustment deals and will prioritize peace, development schemes and education in its manifesto.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has appointed electoral officers for the elections. It is also asking political parties to ensure their constituents check their votes using an SMS-based service. There are still a reported 8 million voters who have been left off the electoral rolls. According to the ECP’s electoral rolls, there are 85.42 million voters in Pakistan as of February 27. 16.2 million voters are aged 18 to 25. The ECP is also developing centralized software to scrutinize nomination papers filed by candidates.

Commentary:

Irfan Husain looks at the pre-election fever of politicians jumping ship, the MQM leaving the government and predicts that elections will be held. – Dawn

Amina Jilani says the elections are being dominated by political relics, not change. – The Express Tribune