Election Watch Update - April 17

Apologies for the sporadic nature of the newsletter this week. I am traveling in Punjab on work assignments and looking at the election campaigns. Please email at saba.imtiaz@gmail.com if you have any commissions.

Attacks on candidates contesting the elections continued on Tuesday with a rally attended by the Bilour family in Peshawar being bombed. The TTP said their target was Haroon Bilour – the son of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, who was killed by the TTP. Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Bashir Ahmed’s brother was also at the rally. The PML-N’s Balochistan chapter president Sardar Sanaullah Zehri’s convoy was attacked near Quetta. Zehri’s son, brother and nephew were killed. The MQM has questioned how the election campaign was only going on in Punjab while the other provinces are under attack. In Tank, independent candidate Gullana Bibi ended her campaign over threats by militants.

The PPP, on the other hand, has been plagued by disqualification of its leading candidates, including former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The party has also asked members to submit advance resignations to deter candidates from switching parties. PPP head Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressed party leaders via video link on Tuesday.

Former president Pervez Musharraf’s candidacy from Chitral has been rejected, which means that he will not be participating in this year’s election.

The PTI has announced its candidates for Lahore, while there is no word on when the PML-N is announcing theirs. The PTI’s Sikandar Hayat Bosan joined the PML-N this week while PTI’s Hashim Babar, formerly of the ANP, quit the party as well. PML-N’s Ayaz Amir – who successfully appealed against his disqualification by a returning officer – faces opposition within the party for his seat.