Election Watch Update - April 5

Questions by returning officers to candidates about Islam and objections raised against candidates dominated Pakistan on Thursday, as former legislator and columnist Ayaz Amir (NA-60 Chakwal-I / PML-N) and prominent Jhang-based politicians Faisal Saleh Hayat (NA-88 Jhang-III / Ind) and Abid Imam did not pass the scrutiny process set by the ECP. Several politicians were also found guilty by the courts of having submitted falsified educational degrees in the 2008 elections, including Jamshed Dasti (NA-178 Muzaffargarh-III / Ind) and Syed Aqil Shah (PK-4 Peshawar-IV / ANP).

Dawn profiles the Jhelum district, where uncertainty prevails since political parties have not finalized their candidates as yet.

The Express Tribune looks at the influence of the Pir and Syed families, and the heirs of Sufi saints, on the political scene in Sindh.

Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has called for political parties to participate in the elections in Balochistan, where an insurgency has been simmering for several years and has been marked by extrajudicial killings and torture, attributed to the extensive military footprint in the province. The Supreme Court has asked the government to provide security to voters in Balochistan.

PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar has asked the government to pass an ordinance to provide a legal cover to the ECP’s code of conduct for the elections.

The caretaker interior minister Malik Habib Khan has said that there will be no troops at polling stations during the election, even though the ECP has asked for soldiers to be deputed outside polling stations.

PTI chief Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed have finalized a seat adjustment deal for constituencies in Rawalpindi.

The ECP has reportedly asked the government to support its stance to the Supreme Court that it would not be possible for Pakistanis based abroad to vote in the May election because of the lack of time.

Disputes continue in the PTI over giving party tickets.

Former president Pervez Musharraf has reportedly picked Begum Saira Bano to contest elections against PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. Musharraf’s candidate is a cousin of Sharif’s wife Kalsoom Nawaz and comes from a well-known family of traditional wrestlers.