No threat to fairness of elections by deploying army: EU observers

  • The EU EOM will assess the elections according to the national law of Pakistan and the regional and international commitments

ISLAMABAD – European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission head Michael Gahler said that the deployment of army at the polling stations will not pose threat to the fairness of elections.

Gahler, who is a member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany and heading the mission, stated this during his inaugural presser on Thursday. He added that law and order situation has significantly improved as compared to 2013 general elections.

Earlier this month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) formally written a letter to the Ministry of Defense for deployment of the army inside and outside the polling stations for the general elections slated for July 25.

Responding to a question about alleged targeting of the members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), he remarked that running an election does not provide immunity to candidates from legal action.

A core team of 10 election experts of EU EOM arrived in Islamabad on 24 June. The EU EOM will assess the elections according to the national law of Pakistan and the regional and international commitments it has made regarding elections. The EU also deployed EOMs to Pakistan in 2002, 2008 and 2013.

Gahler highlighted that several recommendations given by the mission after observing the previous elections have been made part of the law by the Pakistani parliament. He added that giving more autonomy to the ECP was one of the important recommendations.

The political parties have been made bound to give at least five percent ticket to the women in the new law, which also states that election results of a constituency will be cancelled if turnout of women voters is less than 10 percent.

In early July, 60 long-term observers (LTOs) are due to be deployed across the country, Express Tribune reported.

Diplomats from EU members states residents in Pakistan and seven members of EU Parliament will also join the LTOs near the election days. At full strength, the mission should comprise up to 100 observers.

According to Gahler, the EU EOM’s assessment of the electoral process is independent of any EU institution and member states.  EU observers adhere to a Code of Conduct that obliges them to maintain strict impartiality and neutrality, he added

The mission will issue a statement shortly after the election day, however, a comprehensive report with suggestions would be published around after months.