EU marks improvement in Pakistan’s election reforms

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Islamabad ( PR )Sajjad Karim MEP welcomes EU report which announces Pakistan’s May 11th general election as a ‘significantly improved process’ from the country’s previous election. However, the report highlights some areas of improvement, notably calling for greater transparency and accountability in the electoral process.

The European Union’s Election Observer Mission presented its final report after spending more than two months in Pakistan on an invitation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The mission deployed 144 observers from 24 EU Member States on Election Day covering different parts of the country.

The report strongly praised Pakistan’s recent election despite immense difficulties. A reported 62 violent incidents resulting in at least 64 election-related deaths took place on polling day alone. It said:

“Despite escalating militant attacks, and procedural shortcomings, the electoral process progressed with high levels of competition, a marked increase in voter participation, and overall acceptance of the outcome.”

Sajjad Karim MEP, chairman of the influential Friends of Pakistan group, welcomed the mission's findings and was optimistic that Pakistan would address the shortcomings. He said:

“We need to remember that Pakistan has gone through a very difficult and turbulent period socially, economically and politically. The report from the EU Observation Mission is very encouraging and I am optimistic that the new government will address some concerns of electoral transparency detailed in the report.”

The report was critical of some fundamental problems in the legal framework which could leave Pakistan’s electoral process vulnerable to malpractice further down the line. And although a total of 16,692 candidates stood for seats across the country, the issue of a lack of public information, such as date changes, results etc., and burdensome candidate registration procedure was criticised.

Recommendations from the mission highlighted the need for a special parliamentary committee to review legislation and address key issues for compliance with Pakistan’s international commitments including: candidacy criteria, transparency requirements, and mechanisms for effective remedy.

Speaking on the report’s recommendations, Sajjad Karim said, “It is imperative that momentum is not lost and Pakistan continues on its path to make every future election free and fair. In my role as Chairman of the Pakistan Group in the European Parliament, I will endeavour to ensure EU support for Pakistan.

23 July 2013