Election Watch Update - May 4

The ANP’s Sadiq Zaman, a candidate for NA-254 Karachi-XVI, was shot dead in the city on Friday with his son. Polling for the seat will reportedly be delayed. A profile of NA-254 is available here and here.

There have been 23 attacks on the ANP since March 30. ANP activists and election offices have received threatening letters from the TTP, warning them to stop their support for the party. The ANP has said it will not boycott the election. (I have a short comment on the violence preceding the election for Tehelka)

Pervez Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League has announced a boycott of the election. Musharraf’s nomination papers were rejected and the Peshawar High Court has barred him for life from contesting elections.

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will not be returning to Pakistan for the election.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of the PML-Q thinks PTI will win the popular vote, and believes his party – which has had nearly all of its influential candidates defect in the run-up to the elections – will still be a ‘kingmaker’ in coalition talks.

Dawn looks at the benefit PTI will have from ‘electables’ in the southern Punjab region.

In an address to the nation on Friday, caretaker prime minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso said that elections would be held on time and that there would be no delay or extension of the caretaker government’s tenure, as many have speculated.

The BNP-Mengal announced its manifesto, promising the end of ‘death squads’, targeted killings and the ‘kill and dump’ policy in use across Balochistan.

The Lahore High Court has ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to stop the broadcast of a PPP attack ad that features an alleged telephone conversation between Shahbaz Sharif and then judge-Malik Qayyum, where Sharif asks for Qayyum for a favor. Political parties have spent millions of rupees on television ads.

Dawn profiles Azam Swati, a former JUI-F senator who quit the party in 2011 and joined PTI.

Constituency profiles:

NA-48 Islamabad-I and NA-48 Islamabad-II: A pitched battle is expected in several areas given there are pockets of votes that will go to parties like the JI.

NA-122 Lahore-V: Incumbent Ayaz Sadiq (PML-N) goes head to head with PTI chairperson Imran Khan.

NA-132 Sheikhupura-II: PML-N incumbent Rana Tanveer Hussain looks set to win his seat again.

NA-237 Thatta-I and NA-238 Thatta-II: While the influential Sheerazi family may win NA-238, NA-237 looks set to be an uphill battle because of the PPP and PML-N candidates – Owais Muzaffar and Marvi Memon.

NA-253 Karachi-XV: The Shia vote bank may split this year because the MWM has also fielded a candidate.

NA-265 Old Sibi: The Bugtis cannot enter their old constituency while IDPs have been protesting about not being free to vote.