Election Watch Update - April 6

Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim on Friday and said that the army supported the ECP. The two also reportedly discussed security arrangements for the elections. Security concerns were also highlighted in a caretaker cabinet meeting. The caretaker government will brief political parties on security arrangements for their leaders.

Former president Pervez Musharraf’s nomination papers were rejected in Kasur over charges of treason, the assassination of Akbar Bugti and the Lal Masjid siege et al.

The role of returning officers was center stage in Pakistan on Friday as well, with the Lahore High Court stepping in to restrict returning officers from asking “random intrusive and inquisitive questions that have no nexus with information given in the nomination papers or do not arise from the objections raised by the other side or from the information collected or received by the RO from the authorised agencies like NAB, SBP, FBR and Nadra as per the direction issued by the ECP”.  The court has also asked the ECP to stop television channels from recording within the courtrooms where candidates are being interviewed.

The Federal Board of Revenue says that questions being posed of candidates by returning officers are overstepping the FBR’s agreement with the ECP on financial scrutiny. The FBR says it cannot provide all of the details that the officers have requested.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain criticized the returning officers and their questions to candidates on Islam in a speech on Friday. He also called for extending the elections by a month to ensure the scrutiny process went ahead.

The Mullah Nazir-led group of the TTP in South Waziristan met with candidates for NA-41 and their representatives. The group says it will not interfere with the election process but set conditions for campaigning.

 The PTI says it will field volunteers at polling booths to ensure voter fraud does not take place.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid launched its manifesto on Friday, focusing on education.

The Express Tribune profiles the NA-I Peshawar-I constituency. Ghulam Ahmed Bilour (ANP) and Imran Khan (PTI) are contesting the seat.

A survey by the Sindh Institute of Democracy and Development looks at the popularity of the PPP, PML-F and PML-N in Sindh, with voter confidence in the PPP falling from 79% to 45% and disapproval of the PPP’s alliance with the MQM.