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Commonwealth observer group unveils preliminary findings on Pakistan polls

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Spokesman Report

ISLAMABAD: The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) on Saturday unveiled its initial findings on Pakistan’s General Elections-2024, highlighting the commendable efforts of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other institutions for conducting general polls. Chairperson COG, Dr Goodluck Jonathan at a press conference here acknowledged Pakistan’s significance as one of the world’s largest democracies and emphasized the importance of these elections for its people.

 

The COG chairperson expressed his gratitude for the invitation to observe the elections and commended the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for logistical preparations amid challenges. The group, he said, adhered to principles of impartiality, non-interference, and independence during its deployment, engaging with various stakeholders. Appreciating the role of Election Commission of Pakistan, he said that the COG observers were deployed in various areas including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Karachi, Hyderabad and Abbottabad on February 6, 2024 to observe election preparations. Recognizing and appreciating the substantial work by the ECP, the COG chairperson noted delays in proceeding with the elections, attributing them to the significant task of organizing an election involving around 128 million registered voters.

The security challenges were acknowledged, with condolences extended for lives lost in terrorist attacks leading up to Election Day. The impact of adverse weather conditions, including snowbound areas and the damages caused by floods in 2022, was also highlighted. Dr Jonathan mentioned the substantially reformed legal framework leading up to the 2024 General Elections, emphasizing the importance of continued reform in line with the Constitution and Commonwealth Charter values. The areas for refinement in the legal framework will be detailed in the final report. Lauding the reduction in the national gender gap in registered voters and the reserved seats for women, he noted concerns regarding the participation of women candidates and some communities discouraging women from campaigning and voting. The youth engagement in campaigns, especially on social media, was commended, but challenges for minority communities were mentioned. The COG chairperson underscored the importance of a legal and administrative environment conducive to citizens’ right to run for office and vote. He noted the implementation of codes of conduct for political parties and the media, with calls for more stakeholder engagement. The complete recommendations to ensure transparency in this regard will be included in the final report. While commending the ECP’s efforts to improve election management through the Election Management System (EMS), he acknowledged operational challenges on Election Day, which will be elaborated on in subsequent observations. He provided a detailed overview of the pre-poll procedures, polling environment, voter turnout, role of polling staff, participation and inclusion, and the overall security situation.

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