Election Watch Update - Mar 21

A bipartisan parliamentary committee was unable to decide on a caretaker prime minister on  Wednesday, but the nominees have been cut down to four. The PPP’s candidates are retired judge Mir Hazar Khan Khoso and former State Bank of Pakistan governor Dr Ishrat Husain. The PML-N’s nominees are veteran nationalist politician Rasul Bux Palijo and retired Supreme Court justice Nasir Aslam Zahid.

PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is reportedly to blame for the issue even going to the parliamentary committee. According to Dawn, Khan stopped talks between PPP and PML-N representatives and sent the party’s nominations to the National Assembly secretariat. Nisar also appears to have convinced party chief Nawaz Sharif to not let the PML-N’s representatives on the committee concede to the PPP and have the matter be eventually decided by the ECP.

The election schedule will be announced on March 23. The basic schedule currently appears to be:

  • March 24: Returning officers issue notices of the dates for constituencies.
  • March 25 – 30: Candidates file nomination papers
  • March 31 – April 6: Scrutiny of nomination papers
  • April 10: Last date of filing appeals
  • April 17: Appeals to be decided by election tribunals
  • April 18: Last date for candidates to withdraw
  • April 19: Revised list of candidates published
  • April 20 – May 9: Candidates campaign for the elections
  • May 9: Campaigning stops 48 hours before the polls
  • May 11: Election day

The Punjab Assembly was dissolved on Wednesday. The caretaker chief minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was sworn in and Sindh’s caretaker chief minister will take his oath today. The PML-N and its allies in Sindh will challenge the appointment of Sindh’s caretaker chief minister in court, claiming the process was not transparent. Disagreements continue over candidates for the Balochistan caretaker chief minister.

Former president Pervez Musharraf, who is expected to return to Pakistan on March 24, says that his party is “established with organisations across the country and some major political players are just waiting for my return to offer their support. There are a number of people and organisations that I call floaters in Pakistan, and my return will bring hope to them and the chance to work together.”

Talks between the PML-Q and the PPP – deferred this week when the PML-Q blamed the PPP for getting its members to switch sides – will continue depending on the outcome of a meeting between party heads Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Asif Ali Zardari next week. The PML-Q has reportedly started giving tickets to candidates regardless of how the talks with the PPP end up.

The Express Tribune analyses the ANP’s five-year tenure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the challenges the government faced.

The Pakistan Peoples Party and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) are campaigning extensively in Lakki Marwat. Potential candidates for PK-74 Lakki Marwat-I include PPP’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter head Anwar Saifullah, the JUI-F’s Mufti Ziaullah, Ahsanullah and Zafarullah Khan Marwat and the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Anwar Hayat Khan. Humayun Saifullah (PPP) and Malik Imran and Samiullah Mujahid (JUI-F) will contest PK-75 Lakki Marwat-II, Akhtar Munir Khan (PPP), Maulana Asghar Ali and Naseer Muhammad Khan (JUI-F) will contest PK-76 Lakki Marwat-III. The NA-27 Lakki Marwat seat will be contested by Senator Saleem Saifullah (PPP). JUI-F’s potential candidates include Munawar Khan, Haji Ameer Nawaz Khan and Sher Afzal Khan.

The Balochistan government will ask the ECP to hold elections in the Dera Bugti district based on the 2008 electoral rolls.

Commentary:

Colin Cookman provides an extensive backgrounder to the 2013 elections. – Center for American Progress [PDF]

I.A. Rehman discusses a letter by Sardar Akhtar Mengal to the Supreme Court chief justice and stresses that it should be taken seriously since elections will not solve the issues in Balochistan. – Dawn

Ikram Sehgal writes about former president Pervez Musharraf’s planned return to Pakistan and pre-election campaigning by political parties. – The News

Hamid Mir discusses dynastic politics in Pakistan. – Jang