By Alex Kasper
Senate elections and the upcoming general elections in Pakistan
Although a little-known independent politician was appointed chairman during Senate1 elections on 03MAR18, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) emerged as the largest political party in both the upper and lower houses of the governing body, displacing Pakistan’s Peoples Party (PPP) in the upper house who came in second overall. Led by the brother of ousted PM Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, the PML-N has claimed successive by-election victories and is poised to make significant gains in the general elections slated for 15JUL18. And as their power increases, the party could play an even greater role in legislation. However, if the election of the Senate chairman is any indication, which was the result of a rare alliance between PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, PML-N will still need to fight to retain power.
Moreover, the extraordinary drama surrounding the normally low-key Senate races may have set the stage for what’s to come in July. Denounced as serious setbacks to the country’s democracy, critics have alleged that the elections were marred by horse-trading and seat buying.Many also believe that the military, which has ruled Pakistan for nearly half of the time since independence from British colonial rule in 1947,had a hand in installing the new chairman.
Indeed, in addition to major party representatives from PML-N, PPP, and PTI levelling insults and accusations of corruption and election rigging against one another, divisions have widened within parties as well. Notable politicians, expressing dissatisfaction with the party’s direction, have parted ways with the ruling PML-N to either join other parties or to form their own coalition.
And as the nation gears up for voting in the summer, controversy has swirled around delimitation of constituencies, which was rumored to be a potential cause for delay as the parliamentary working group recently rejected boundaries proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
News summary of events during 03MAR18 – 16APR18
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the recent Senate elections and the upcoming general elections in Pakistan
Sample of Third Party Validators on the recent Senate elections and the upcoming general elections in Pakistan
Mazhar Abbas, Karachi-based journalist and political analyst
“It’s important to see what political posture Nawaz Sharif takes in reaction to the court’s order, this is the biggest question. Whether he would wait for the PML-N to win the elections or take aggressive steps like boycotting the ballot or starting street protests.”
– Pakistan Court Orders Lifetime Political Ban Against Sharif, Bloomberg, 12APR18
Steven Butler, Asia Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists
“The arbitrary suspension of Geo TV on cable TV is a direct assault on Pakistan’s constitutionally guaranteed right to access information,” Steven Butler, the committee’s Asia program coordinator, said in a statement. “It’s outrageous that the authorities are either unable to find or too frightened to name those powerful enough to orchestrate the blocking of the news distribution.”
– Top Pakistani News Channel Is Forced Off Air, and Eyes Are on the Military, NYT, 06APR18
Babar Sattar, Partner, AJURIS
“There is no polite way of saying this: democracy and its institutions are on a very short leash. With Sadiq Sanjrani elected chairman of the Senate, the gamekeeper has made known to all and sundry that the leash has gotten shorter.”
– Democracy on a leash, The News International, 17MAR18
Ibn Abdur Rehman, Human rights activist
“There is an air of confrontation. The judges should not start trying to solve the problems themselves.”
– Court Takes an Activist Role in Pakistan. Not Everyone Sees It as Just. NYT, 11FEB18
Hasan Askari Rizvi, Professor Emeritus, Punjab University
“You need to recognize that in Pakistan the military is a political force, which plays a role from the sidelines […] But you cannot make the argument that all the politicians are just stooges of the army, that is the PML-N narrative. Sometimes politicians do work with the military, but [they do so] because it serves their own interests.”
– Sadiq Sanjrani: Pakistan’s first senate chair from Balochistan, Al Jazeera, 13MAR18
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to upcoming general elections in Pakistan
Byline: Khalid Qayum and Kamran Haider
Date: 3 March 2018
Pakistan’s ruling party became the largest group in the Senate during a closed-door election on Saturday, strengthening its hand before national polls in July despite legal set backs and corruption proceedings against its leader Nawaz Sharif.
Final results from the Election Commission show candidates affiliated with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz won 15 seats, taking their total to 33 in the 104-strong Senate, elected by lawmakers for six-year terms. The largest opposition group, the Pakistan Peoples Party, led-by former president Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, gained 12 seats for a combined 20. A total of 135 candidates contested the 52 seats up for grabs.
2. Sadiq Sanjrani: Pakistan’s first senate chair from Balochistan
Media: Al Jazeera
Byline: Asad Hashim
Date: 13 March 2018
Islamabad, Pakistan – A little-known opposition candidate has been elected as senate chairman in Pakistan, in a fresh blow to the ruling PML-N party, which is already reeling from the slew of corruption cases facing its leadership.
Sadiq Sanjrani was elected chairman of the upper house of parliament by his fellow senators on Monday after 52 newly elected senators took their oath of office earlier in the day.
3. Allegations of skulduggery in Pakistan’s Senate races set stage for chaotic general election
Media: Washington Post
Byline: Pamela Constable and Shaiq Hussain
Date: 22 March 2018
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In the past, Pakistan’s Senate has often functioned as a debating club with numerous perks, a grandiloquent echo chamber where little of importance takes place. Its 104 members are elected to six-year terms by provincial legislators, a low-key process that rarely produces a ripple in the nation’s political scene.
This month’s Senate elections, however, produced a firestorm.
4. Imran, Khattak to face consequences for corruption: PPP senator
Media: The News International (Pakistan)
Date: 31 March 2018
PESHAWAR: Senator Behramand Tangi of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Friday claimed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak would face the consequences for indulging in corruption.
“PTI chief Imran Khan and Chief Minister Pervez Khattak would face jail due to the massive corruption during the party’s rule in the province once the term of their government is completed,” he told a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club (PPP).
5. Defectors were never part of PML-N, says Nawaz
Media: Geo TV (Pakistan)
Date: 10 April 2018
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that the recent party members who have defected were never part of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Talking to journalists inside the accountability court about Monday’s defection of eight party lawmakers from South Punjab on the pretext of making the region into a separate province, Nawaz said that something probably ‘descended’ on those who left the party.
Copyright 2018 The Rendon Group. Powered By Impressive Business WordPress Theme