Election Watch Update - April 1

Over 7,000 people have applied to contest the 2013 elections, and the ECP’s extensive scrutiny process starts today. The ECP also plans to upload nomination papers filed by candidates on its website. The cleared candidates will be announced by April 8.

President Asif Ali Zardari went to Dubai this weekend. Dunya News reported that the president would be flying to Dubai to meet his son, party head Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, as reports have circulated that Bilawal is upset with his father over how the PPP is being managed. Faryal Talpur, President Zardari’s sister, has denied reports of a family dispute.

The News on Sunday takes an in-depth look at the PTI, analysing its appeal to the youth, the party’s chances of winning seats and its planned alliance with the JI. The Jamaat-e-Islami and PML-N are still negotiating seat adjustments, while an alliance between the PTI and the JI does not appear to be materializing.

Caravan profiles PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

Thirty-eight people have applied to contest the NA-40 North Waziristan seat. Badam Zari and Nusrat Begum are the first women from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to file nomination papers for the elections, for NA-44 Bajaur and NA-34 Lower Dir respectively.

The MQM is announcing its election manifesto today.

The National Database and Registration Authority has developed a software – costing $1.5 million – for Pakistanis based abroad to vote. Pakistanis will need to have their passport, National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis and be registered to vote to be able to vote at embassies/consulates.

The state of uncertainty over party candidates sparked protests on Saturday. The PML-N has extended discussions on its candidates to April 2 while the PTI will announce candidates on April 7. Political parties are either still waiting on who gets cleared by the ECP or the outcome of seat adjustment negotiations to finalize candidates.

Bookmakers in Rawalpindi are taking bets on the elections, focusing on the NA-55 constituency in the city and candidates.

Jamshed Ahmed Dasti, who plans to run against former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar in Muzaffargarh, travelled on a donkey cart to file his nomination papers.

The PPP and the PML-N have reportedly reached an agreement on which members of the Saifullah family will contest the Lakki Marwat seats, allowing both parties to counter an offensive against the JUI-F’s candidates.

The ECP has asked to reject candidates who violated the code of conduct when filing nomination papers.

A 16-member caretaker cabinet took oath in Sindh on Saturday, while a five-member caretaker cabinet took oath in Punjab on Monday.

The Interior Ministry has set up a cell to coordinate security arrangements for the elections with the ECP.