Election Watch Update - Mar 26

The PPP’s election campaign will kick off on April 4 in the Bhuttos’ ancestral village of Garhi Khuda Bux in Larkana district. The party organizes a massive rally on April 4 each year to mark party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death anniversary. In the past few years, the PPP has held the event on April 3 while the PPP-Shaheed Bhutto – led by Murtaza Bhutto and after his death by his wife Ghinwa Bhutto – holds an event on April 4.

The PPP says that Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will not be participating in the election campaign because of security concerns, and will instead address rallies via the phone. The party’s election campaign will be overseen by President Asif Ali Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur and run by a slew of leaders including former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf. The Press Trust of India reports that Bilawal has left for Dubai after a disagreement with President Zardari about the management of the PPP. 

The PPP Parliamentarians has been given the party’s traditional symbol of an arrow. The group of PPP dissidents led by Benazir Bhutto’s former aide Naheed Khan is planning to contest the decision.

The Balochistan National Party-Mengal will discuss on Tuesday whether it will participate in the elections. The Chief Election Commissioner and provincial election commissioners will visit Quetta and hold talks with political parties in the province.

The PML-F will announce its election manifesto today.

The Express Tribune looks at the Kohat constituency and predicts a poll victory for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The PML-N has prepared an initial list of candidates for the National Assembly. The JUI-F has announced its candidates for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. Party chief Fazlur Rehman will contest three National Assembly seats.

Talks between the PPP and the PML-Q on seat adjustments are set to continue despite the parties’ differences on allowing PML-Q chief to run from a Gujrat seat. The PML-Q has announced its candidates for Sindh.

National Assembly candidates in Bara tehsil, Khyber Agency have asked for the elections to be delayed, owing to threats in the area, the displacement of residents and the difficulties in campaigning.

The ECP has asked for the State Bank of Pakistan’s deputy governor to be removed, based on the belief that he could obstruct the process of screening candidates who may have defaulted on their loans. The State Bank of Pakistan and the Federal Bureau of Revenue will be assisting the ECP with doing financial background checks on candidates for the next elections.

US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly cancelled a trip to Pakistan to avoid the perception that the US was interfering in the elections. As a senator, Kerry was a key interlocutor for US-Pak relations – famously landing in the country at the height of the Raymond Davis impasse – and was also an observer for the 2008 elections.