Election Watch Update - Mar 3

The National Assembly and provincial assemblies will be dissolved at midnight on March 16, according to Pakistan Peoples Party minister Syed Khursheed Shah. Shah said the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, will propose its nominees for caretaker prime minister on Monday.

The Supreme Court has hit out at the Election Commission of Pakistan for not following its order to redraw constituencies in Karachi, part of a 2011 verdict on the state of law and order in the city. The ECP has repeatedly said that redrawing constituencies would not be possible unless a population census is done first. The last census was conducted in 1998.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has submitted its accounts to the ECP to ensure it is eligible to contest elections and it is expected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will be declared eligible too since it is currently conducting internal elections, a prerequisite for all political parties. The Balochistan National Party-Awami and National Party are still ineligible since they have not held internal elections.

The PTI says it will not ally with Pervez Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League or the MQM –which its party chief Imran Khan has had a contentious relationship with – for the elections.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid will contest elections with its own symbol – a bicycle – instead of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s arrow, which the PPP had hoped for to strengthen their electoral alliance. PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi will run for NA-105 Gujrat-II, which is currently held by the PPP’s Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar. PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was Mukhtar’s original rival for the seat – he has won it thrice compared to Mukhtar winning it twice.

The PML-Q has formed an electoral alliance with the Bahawalpur National Awami Party, led by Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi.

The PML-N hopes to win 30 to 40 provincial assembly seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 12 National Assembly seats.

Bashir Ahmed Malik, who once led the PPP’s foreign affairs wing, has quit the party and joined the PML-N.

Commentary:

Najam Sethi looks at the recent criticism of the ECP for asking legislators to verify their educational degrees. – The News