PILDAT finds pre-poll process unfair with enhanced role of military
In its report put forth on Monday, the organisation outlined eleven parameters used to gauge the pre-poll process and highlighted that not a single benchmark was being attained in the country, posing a threat to the transparency of forthcoming elections.
The scrutiny process started in April 2017 and ended in March 2018, with PILDAT revealing that the 11-point Pre-poll Fairness Framework had received an overall score of 51.5% on a scale of 100.
Lowest Scoring 'Highly Unfair' Parameter
The parameter 'Perception of Neutrality of Military towards competing political parties and candidates' received the lowest score of 33.4%, virtually implying that the perception of the all-powerful military's influence on the political parties and their candidates was growing.
The second lowest scoring benchmark was 'Perception of Freedom of Private Media from the influence of State institutions and vested interests' which received a score of 37.8%.
Parameters Falling in 'Unfair' Category
The Unfair scale includes 'Perception of Neutrality of the state-owned Media' which has received the score of 41.5%.
Additionally, the 'Perception of Neutrality of the Accountability Process led by NAB' has received the score of 43.1%.
Moreover, 'Perception of Independence and Neutrality of Judiciary' also falls in the scale of Unfair with a score of 45.8%.
Highest Scoring parameter
PILDAT found out that the parameters that have received the highest scores in terms of providing the required level playing field to all for a free and fair election relate to the election management body – the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
'Perception of Credibility of Electoral Rolls' has received the highest score of 67.3%.
'Perception of Independence, Neutrality and Effectiveness of the Election Commission of Pakistan' has received a score of 65.3%, the second highest ranking parameter.
Another related indicator in the parameter of 'Perception of Fairness and adherence to the laws and rules relating to the electoral constituencies delimitation process' has also received a high score of 64.0% with the overall highest 3rd ranking score amongst 11 parameters.
It must be noted these are the only 3 parameters out of 11 whose scores fall in the Fair scale.
Parameters Falling in 'Fair' Category
The parameter of 'Perception of Lack of ability of the President and Governors to influence elections' has received the next highest score of 61.8%.
Moreover, 'Perception of Lack of ability of Local Governments to influence elections' has received a score of 57.8%.
The parameter of the 'Perception of Maintenance of Law and Order to allow political activities on a level playing field' has also received a score of 57.8%; it indicates that compared to the pre-electoral environment leading to 2013 General Election, the scenario has been relatively stable leading up to General Election 2018.
The moderate (Fair) score, however, also depicts that some political players such as Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) are allowed a free hand to hold law and order hostage with impunity which seems to threaten some other political parties.
Shockingly, not a single parameter made it to the 'Good' category that encompasses a score from 81 to 100.
Impression of Pre-poll process on Upcoming Events
Based on the assessment of perception of fairness of the pre-electoral process, PILDAT believes that if the current trend of the perception of unfairness continues, the prospects for the fairness of remaining phases of the electoral process will also be jeopardized.
But it also suggests that if all the stakeholders relaise their roles, a free and transparent electoral process can still be ensured.
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