Election Watch Update - Mar 27

Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the leader of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal and a former chief minister of Balochistan, says his party will contest the 2013 elections. Nationalist parties in Balochistan boycotted the 2008 election.

The PPP shot down reports of a fight between President Asif Ali Zardari and party head and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, Bilawal’s sister, denied the claims on Twitter and the PPP said Bilawal had left the country for security reasons. Dunya reports that Bilawal will be addressing a rally in Lyari soon, though this could not be confirmed from local sources. However, the party has finalized candidates for provincial and National Assembly seats in the constituency, a key stronghold for the party that has been dominated by the banned Peoples Amn Committee - linked with the PPP - in recent years. Kaavish reports that President Zardari's adopted brother Owais Muzaffar 'Tappi' will be contesting a Sindh Assembly seat from Thatta.

Infighting among Lahore-based candidates continues in the PML-N. The PTI is set to announce its candidates for Punjab today while the PML-N will do so by Thursday. The PPP has announced its candidates for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Stay tuned this week for a database of all candidates contesting elections.

Dawn looks at the election campaigning – under threat by the TTP – in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank. AFP looks at the threats of attacks on Pakistan’s mainstream political parties. With 35 of its offices shut down by the TTP in Karachi, the ANP will be doing a door-to-door campaign in the city.

Despite excitement in Gilgit-Baltistan for the elections, residents are unable to vote because there is no legislation in place for people to vote outside the territory.

Caretaker prime minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso met with army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari. The army will finalise a security plan for the elections today.

Journalist and talk show host Najam Sethi has been appointed as caretaker chief minister of Punjab. Sethi has previously served in the caretaker government in 1996.

The PML-Q faction led by former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim will contest the elections independently and not ally with a party.

The PML-F released its manifesto on Tuesday focusing on education, health and transport.