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.”
Kjeil Bondevik, a former prime minister of Norway who headed the NDI-ANFREL joint mission, called Saturday’s polls, which would mark the first democratic transition between civilian governments in Pakistan’s history, a “critical step in the return to democracy.”
The foreign observers’ reports were less specific on the voting irregularities some political parties and witnesses have alleged, particularly in the southern port city of Karachi. Under Pakistan’s first-past-the-post system of individual races in 272 constituencies, even massive fraud, if concentrated in a few areas, would make only a limited impact on the overall outcome. Mr. Sharif’s PML-N is far ahead of other rivals, and it didn’t win any seats in Karachi, anyway.
According to the country’s election commission, PML-N was confirmed as the winner in 116 constituencies out of the 235 where the vote count ended, former ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in 27 and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of former cricket star Imran Khan in 26.
The EU mission acknowledged that “some serious problems in polling” took place in Karachi, while admitting that European observers had undertaken “limited observations” in the violent city.
Full Article: Pakistan Vote Gets Stamp of Approval – WSJ.com.