Election Watch Update - April 8

Outgoing prime minister Raja Parvez Ashraf (PPP) had his nomination papers rejected by a returning officer on Sunday but Ashraf – and scores of other rejected candidates – will have the option of appealing the decision before an election tribunal. Candidates can file appeals by April 10, and all cases are scheduled to be decided by April 17.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal, who has formerly served as the chief minister of Balochistan and heads his own faction of the Balochistan National Party, has called for an end to the military operation in the province, the release of political prisoners and abolishing the death squads in the province before the elections.

Resentment simmers within PPP supporters in Garhi Khuda Bux over the cancellation of the April 4 death anniversary event of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the PPP founder and late prime minister. Outgoing PPP legislators who have not been nominated by the party this time around are considering contesting elections as independents. This includes Humera Alwani, who was elected on a reserved seat in the Sindh Assembly and has not been nominated for a Sindh or National Assembly seat, and is instead contesting independently from PS-88 Thatta-V, where Owais Muzaffar ‘Tappi’ has filed papers.

PTI workers have protested the party’s process of nominating candidates for the elections. 

The lack of progress on PPP-PML-Q negotiations on seats has made for uncertainty among potential candidates for both parties.

The PML-N’s final list of candidates has not been released as yet. [Formal lists have so far only been released by the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman), the Awami National Party, the Muttahida Deeni Mahaz, the Majlis Wahdat-al-Muslimeen, the Sunni Ittehad Council and the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek as well as the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid for limited constituencies]

The PTI is expected to announce its election manifesto on Tuesday.

The European Union’s observer mission to Pakistan for the elections launches today.

The Express Tribune analyses former president Pervez Musharraf’s candidacy for NA-32 Chitral. Musharraf’s nomination papers were rejected in Karachi and Rawalpindi.  

The Christian community in Lahore is more inclined to vote for the PPP than the PML-N, owing to the latter’s relationships with extremist religious groups. In Sindh, resentment remains that candidates from the Hindu community on reserved seats tend to be rich and upper-class and that political parties do not nominate candidates from scheduled castes.

The Express Tribune profiles the NA-8 Charsadda-II constituency.