International election observers on Monday said Pakistan’s elections were a success and a step forward for the country, despite accusations by losing politicians of vote-rigging in many areas. The preliminary findings by the two largest observer missions—the European Union Election Observation Mission and the joint mission of the National Democratic Institute in the U.S. and the Asian Network for Free Elections—also applauded the high voter turnout, despite high levels of violence. Some 64 people were killed on election day Saturday. Michael Gahler, chief observer of the EU mission, described the election, which was won by the conservative Pakistan Muslim League-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as “competitive and improved despite militant violence.”
Articles about voting issues in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Election Commission on Sunday endorsed the country’s landmark elections that will see the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power via the ballot box in the country’s history. It declared the country’s elections for a new national assembly and government leadership as “largely free and fair.” But Pakistani non-governmental observers noted voting irregularities and terror attacks in parts of the country meant that not everyone’s voice was heard. Free and Fair Election Network CEO Muddassir Rizvi says there were serious incidents of voting irregularities, fraud and intimidation in areas such as in the southern city of Karachi. ”In general, we are not questioning the legitimacy of the process in most parts of Pakistan except for certain constituencies in Karachi, and perhaps some constituencies in Baluchistan where the anti-election campaign was so active that in many instances the election commission could not even set up polling stations,” said Rizvi. The Election Commission said due to threats, the vote in 43 polling stations in the city would have to be re-held.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz alleged widespread rigging across Sindh and parts of the Punjab on Saturday. PTI’s liaison cell head Asad Umar said over 800 complaints had been registered with the election commission, the majority of which were about rigging by rival parties. Sheikh Muhammed Imran, a volunteer at the liaison cell, said, there had been “massive rigging”. The majority of the complaints came from Karachi but there were also complaints from the Punjab, later in the day. “The ECP assured us that they would take immediate action against this, but we are still waiting,” said Imran, “I expect the number of complaints will exceed 2,000 by the end of the day.”
This year’s general elections in Pakistan will be remembered for two things: the determination of the people of Pakistan to see them through and the equal determination of the men of violence to prevent them. As Pakistanis prepare to go to the polls on May 11, there is much nervousness and hope for its outcome, potentially the first successful democratic transition between two popularly elected governments in Pakistan’s history. What my experience as a district officer has taught me, however, is that there is nothing more dangerous than changing horses in mid-stream. National elections have proven in the past to lead to the collapse of law and order and the imposition of martial law. With the promise of the current elections, this is a cycle that appears to be broken, but we should be aware of its dangers.
Over 2,000 journalists working in Islamabad and Rawalpindi will not be able to vote because of duties on May 11. The journalists have demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) devise a swift strategy to facilitate them to vote in their respective constituencies. Many journalists will be on duty on May 11 to report news promptly. Unfortunately the ECP has no system to ensure that journalists can exercise their voting rights.
For decades, not a single woman in this dusty Pakistani village surrounded by wheat fields and orange trees has voted. And they aren’t likely to in next week’s parliamentary election either. The village’s men have spoken. ”It’s the will of my husband,” said one woman, Fatma Shamshed. “This is the decision of all the families.” Mateela is one of 564 out of the 64,000 polling districts across Pakistan where not a single woman voted in the country’s 2008 election. The men from this village of roughly 9,000 people got together with other nearby communities to decide that their women would not vote on May 11 either.
Expressing its failure to extend the voting facility to overseas Pakistanis, the interim government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that multiple technical problems hampered efforts to deploy an e-voting mechanism. Interim Minister for Information Technology Dr Sania Nishtar informed the three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by the Chief Justice, that the government was facing several difficulties in deploying an e-voting system for overseas Pakistanis in the May 11 elections and they wanted to seek the court’s guidance regarding this matter. She explained that though National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) had successfully developed software for the e-voting, it would take at least 18 months to test the system and make it error-free.
A source said Nadra chief Tariq Malik had written letters to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to inform them that his organisation was ready to deploy e-voting facility for overseas Pakistanis. “There is no denying the fact that deployment and installation of e-voting software in host countries is an uphill task and Nadra needs an immediate official nod, including funds amounting to $1.5 million,” said the Nadra official. Any inordinate delay would result in the disenfranchisement of 4.5m Pakistanis living abroad who could otherwise take part in the general election, he added. Under the directives of Supreme Court (SC), Nadra developed a software within the given deadline for overseas registered voters to exercise their right to franchise. A demonstration was also made which was three-member bench of the SC headed by the chief justice.
Overseas Pakistanis are planning agitation against the reluctance of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to make speedy arrangements to enable more than eight million overseas Pakistanis to vote on May 11 elections. Despite clear orders by the highest judiciary of the land to make speedy arrangements, the ECP has continued to tell the court about a range of hurdles to giving overseas Pakistanis right to vote in the 2013 general election.
Top officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the law ministry held a meeting on Tuesday to review e-voting facility for overseas Pakistanis for May 11 polls for which the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has developed a software. A source told Dawn that those attending the meeting had already reached the conclusion that overseas Pakistanis should not be allowed to cast their vote this year due to what they called ‘incomplete’ arrangements and some legal and diplomatic constraints. The meeting was also attended by Attorney General Irfan Qadir. “It has been decided that another round of talks on the e-voting will be held on Wednesday. It will also be attended by representatives of Finance Ministry, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, Foreign Office, Ministry of Information Technology and Nadra,” a senior official of the law ministry said.