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HomePakistanECP asks MoFA to invite international observers | The Express Tribune

ECP asks MoFA to invite international observers | The Express Tribune


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday dispatched a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), urging them to take the essential measures to invite international observers to monitor the transparency of the upcoming general elections, which are scheduled to take place in the last week of January 2024.

This decision to seek international observers comes in response to the European Union’s previous announcement that it will not be sending an election observer mission to Pakistan for the forthcoming parliamentary polls.

Michael Gahler, member of the EU Parliament, had told a group of Pakistani journalists visiting Brussels in July this year that the EU’s decision was based on certain internal constraints as well as a non-invitation from Islamabad by then.

Gahler, who had led the EU’s observer missions to Pakistan for the past three elections held in 2008, 2013, and 2018, revealed the decision. However, he emphasized that the destiny of any political party or leader must not be decided by a ‘third force’.

He reiterated that the EU’s approach for the upcoming general elections in Pakistan would involve sending experts rather than an observer mission. At the time of his statement, Gahler mentioned that the EU had not yet received an invitation from Pakistan, even for the deployment of experts.

On Tuesday, during the meeting at ECP, which was headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and attended by senior officials, it was decided that MoFA should immediately be instructed “to take all necessary steps to invite international observers to observe the transparency of the upcoming general elections.”

A statement from ECP also stated that it was decided that the case of the international observers who have requested the electoral watchdog to observe the election process during the upcoming general elections should immediately be processed.

The electoral body has also approved the code of conduct for international observers and allowed it to be immediately published.

In addition, it said, the commission has directed to convene an Inter-ministerial meeting on October 16 under the chairmanship of secretary ECP, saying senior officers of MoFA, the ministry of interior and other institutions will participate in it and the future course of action with reference to international observers will be decided.

“ECP believes in an open-door policy and welcomes observation missions for the upcoming general elections at the earliest as required,” read a letter that ECP wrote to MoFA. It said that MoFA’s advice containing such invitation to international observers for the upcoming polls in shaping clear policy guidelines and SOPs is deemed welcome in this regard.

Read also: ECP mounts defence of seat distribution

The MoFA is also requested to provide a list of organisations that will observe upcoming general elections in order to streamline the process of observation. A meeting in this regard under the secretary ECP is also scheduled in the coming days for which MoFA will be duly informed.

Meanwhile, ECP has also asked for the details of focal persons from all stakeholders including MoFA, interior and other institutions. Apart from that, the ECP has appointed the joint provincial election commissioner (admin) as the focal persons in the four provinces by ECP at the provincial level.

ECP also reviewed the arrangements for the upcoming general elections and expressed satisfaction with them and ordered that all matters related to the elections be completed as per the schedule.

Following the meeting, Additional Director General (MCO & M&E), Haroon Khan Shinwari, wrote a letter to MoFA, stating that he has been directed to convey that ECP intends to send invitations to international observers & media through the (MoFA) in terms of Section 238 of the Elections Act 2017.

Section 238 (1)(Election observers) states that the commission, at its own motion or upon an application made on this behalf, may allow any domestic or international election observation organization to observe the process of conduct of the election, having access to the polling station, counting of votes and consolidation of results.

Section 238 (2) says that no person shall be allowed to observe the process of conduct of election if he is not accredited as an observer by the commission or its authorised officer; is affiliated with any political party; has been involved in activities prejudicial to the peace and tranquillity of the people of a constituency; or has not obtained security clearance from the government, among other things.

Subclause 4 states that every observer or, as the case may be, organisation may submit a report to the commission highlighting the electoral irregularities which were noticed during observation relating to the conduct of the election, with recommendations, if any.

After the 2018 elections, Gahler revealed, that the EU observer mission had made 30 recommendations to Pakistan to ensure transparency in future elections but only two to three were implemented, expressing concerns over the state of democracy in Pakistan.

Separately, ECP will take up that matter seeking the removal of ex-premier Imran Khan’s name as PTI chairman on October 10. Also, ECP will conduct a hearing of contempt cases against PTI chairman, Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry on the same date.

The ECP will also hear an application seeking the removal of caretaker federal cabinet members, including Fawad Hasan Fawad, Ahad Cheema, and PM’s principal secretary, Tauqeer Shah, on October 10.

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