Latest: ECP plans to facilitate international observers during polls
NBS Webdesk

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has planned to facilitate a number of international observers to be in Pakistan, if and when the general elections are conducted. “The back-end related work has been completed, even the accreditation card format, as we look forward for observers from various countries and organisations to land in Pakistan at an appropriate time,” a senior commission official told this correspondent Saturday. He explained that the Elections Act 2017 provides for facilitating international observers in relation to the conduct of elections. He added Pakistan and the ECP would welcome observers from abroad.

“In consultation with all the institutions concerned, the duration of visas for foreign election observers is expected to be between four to six weeks, and during their stay here, they will observe the election process, counting of votes at polling stations and consolidation of results as well,” he explained. However, he made it clear that while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be mainly processing the visas, security clearance will be the key on this count. It is pertinent that Section 238 of the Election Act says: “The commission, at its own motion or upon an application made in this behalf, may allow any domestic or international election observation organisation to observe the process of conduct of election, having an access to polling station, counting of votes and consolidation of results.”

It says no person shall be allowed to observe the process of conduct of election, if he (a) is not accredited as an observer by the commission or its authorised officer; (b) is affiliated with any political party; (c) fails to provide his full particulars and documents, including photographs, which may be required by the ECP; (d) has been involved in activities prejudicial to the peace and tranquility of the people of a constituency; (e) fails to provide an authorisation form the organisation of which he is a member; and (f) has not obtained security clearance from the government.

Some key points of the code of conduct for international observers are: Every observer or, as the case may be, organisation may submit a report to the ECP highlighting the electoral irregularities which were noticed during observation relating to conduct of election, with recommendations, if any.

Every person who participates in election observation individually or as a member of a local group/ organisation or the international election observation mission must read and understand the code of conduct and shall sign a pledge.

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