Election Watch Update - Mar 7

Retired judges Nasir Aslam Zahid and Shakirullah Jan and Sindh nationalist leader Rasul Bux Palijo are the PML-N’s choices for caretaker prime minister. Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will send the names to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf today.

The election schedule will be announced ten days after March 16, according to the ECP.

The PML-N is announcing its election manifesto today. It looks at providing job schemes, imposing a ‘flat tax’, and restructuring the state-run Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Railways. It also calls for formalizing all agreements with the US in writing. The basic structure of the manifesto is available here.

Masood Sharif Khattak, a former head of the Intelligence Bureau who joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2011, has quit the party. Khattak will run as an independent candidate from NA-15 Karak. PPP leader Sardar Sikandar Hayat is expected to join the PTI today. Former diplomat Ashraf Jahangir Qazi and ex-bureaucrat Roedad Khan also joined the PTI.

PML-N MNA Raja Mohammad Asad Khan (NA-63 Jhelum-II) – who recently joined the PPP - has announced he will contest the NA-62 Jhelum-I seat as an independent candidate. His father Raja Mohammad Afzal and brother MNA Raja Mohammad Safdar had also joined the PPP. Asad will be running for the seat currently held by his brother.

Commentary:

Hamid Mir discusses the problems faced by nationalist parties in Balochistan and looks at the military using private militias to decimate these. Mir also discusses why former PPP Balochistan leader Lashkari Raisani has joined the PML-N. – Jang (Urdu)

I.A. Rehman writes about how elections will be held given the threats of violence before and during the polls. According to Rehman, a number of candidates in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have “decided to pull out of the electoral race because they argue that giving up political ambition is preferable to ending up as a mutilated corpse.” – Dawn