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Foreign observers satisfied over Pakistan’s general election

Islamabad, The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Pakistan has expressed satisfaction on conduct of general election in the country.

Millions of registered voters flocked to polling stations across the country on July 25 to cast their vote to elect members of National Assembly and four Provincial Assemblies.

The Observation Mission, led by its Chief Observer, Michael Gahler while addressing a press conference here said efforts of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were impressive and appreciable.

He said observers visited as many as 582 polling stations in 113 constituencies and he had also personally visited many polling stations. We observed there was an improvement as compared to the previous election held in 2013.

Gahler said the election results that gave Imran Khan a win were credible. Overall the election results are credible, he added.

He added that despite positive changes to the legal framework with the new Elections Act, and a stronger and more transparent Election Commission, 'we consider that the electoral process of 2018 was negatively affected by the political environment.

Candidates with large political appeal and financial means, the so-called electables were reported to often dominate the campaign. Uneven rules on campaign spending further undermined candidates' equal opportunity, the EU EOM observed.

The Mission also noted in its preliminary statement that the Election Day was orderly, 'with a preliminary turnout of 52 percent' despite 'two deadly attacks on polling stations in Balochistan, and regional clashes between party supporters'.

Praising the ECP for the way the election was conducted, the EU EOM observed that the commission is an independent constitutional body with powers and responsibility to conduct elections.

'In the last two years, ECP's leadership has undertaken initiatives to improve its capacity, transparency and accountability,' the Mission said, observing that the level of confidence in the institution has increased 'due to regular consultations with political parties and civil society organisations.'

While the Mission maintained that the voting was well-conducted, it said that the counting process was problematic and that staff did not always follow procedure.

He noted the presence of security personnel inside and outside the polling stations did not interfere in electoral process. At times, they checked voter ID cards and directed voters to the right queue.

The head of the European Parliament's delegation to the election observation mission, Jean Lambert MEP (United Kingdom), fully endorsed the preliminary statement of the EU EOM.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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