Election Watch Update - Mar 23

View a list of the defections by members elected to Pakistan’s lower house of parliament in the 2008-2013 term here. This list will be updated if/when more politicians switch parties in the run up to the elections.

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The Election Commission of Pakistan will be choosing a caretaker prime minister in two days, after a bipartisan parliamentary committee failed to agree on a nominee. The ECP will be choosing from the four candidates named by the PPP and its allies and the PML-N and other opposition parties: retired judges Nasir Aslam Zahid and Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Sindh nationalist politician Rasul Bux Palijo and former State Bank of Pakistan governor Dr Ishrat Hussain.

The ECP formally announced the schedule for Pakistan’s general elections.

  • March 23: Returning officers to issue public notices
  • March 24 – March 29: Candidates file nomination papers with returning officers
  • March 30 – April 5: Returning officers scrutinize candidates’ nomination papers
  • April 9: Last date for filing appeals against the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers
  • April 16: Deadline for tribunals to announce decisions on appeals
  • April 17: Deadline to withdraw candidacy
  • April 18: Publication of revised list of candidates
  • May 11: Election day

The military, police, Frontier Corps and paramilitary Rangers force will be involved in providing security for the elections. There will be 50,000 security officers on duty for the elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Express Tribune looks at the demographic breakdown of voters registered for the 2013 elections.

The ECP has formed a committee to look into redrawing several constituencies in Karachi based on an order from the Supreme Court. The ECP will be looking into NA-239 Karachi-I, NA-250 Karachi-XII and NA-254 Karachi-XVI and the Sindh Assembly seats PS-89, PS-112, PS-113, PS-114, PS-116, PS-118 and PS-124. The PPP won NA-239 and PS-89 in the 2008 elections. The MQM won the rest of the seats mentioned. The MQM has asked the ECP to withdraw the notification and will challenge the move in court.

President Asif Ali Zardari has quit the post of co-chairperson of the PPP – dubbed in the Lahore High Court as an ‘association’, not a political party. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has been elected patron-in-chief. There have been other shake-ups within the party structure to allow for the PPP to be registered and receive an election symbol after the PPP name was disputed by other contenders with the ECP.

The PPP is still hopeful that its election alliance with the PML-Q – deferred over the PML-Q objecting to its members defecting to the PPP – will work out in Punjab.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is set to hold a rally in Lahore today. Party chairperson Imran Khan said on Friday that his party would ally with the Jamaat-e-Islami, Sheikh Rasheed’s Awami Muslim League and Bahawalpur’s Nawab Salahuddin. He has also called for the party members to fundraise for the election campaign.

Veteran politician Syed Fakhr Imam has joined the PML-N. Imam has previously been a part of the PPP and the PML-Q and contested the 2008 elections on a PPP ticket from Khanewal. In 2008, his wife, Syeda Abida Hussain, and daughter Syeda Sughra Imam contested the NA-88 Jhang-III and NA-87 Jhang-II seats respectively as PPP candidates and lost the elections. The family has historically held a considerable amount of influence in Jhang constituencies, but has faced off with Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat (formerly of the PPP and PML-Q) and Sheikh Waqas Akram (who recently left the PML-Q to join the PML-N).

Commentary:

Babar Sattar calls for fixing the ‘existing disconnect between power and responsibility’ in Pakistan. Sattar says people must ask important questions of the politicians they plan to vote in and elect those who can bring ‘bottom-up’ change. – The News

 Zafar Hilaly discusses the debate over the caretaker prime minister. – The News