By Ikram Junaidi
ISLAMABAD: European Union election observers speak to officials during their visit to a polling station on Wednesday. The European Union’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Jean Fracois Cautain, tweeted: “Already observed with my colleague Elisa a good number of polling stations both in rural and urban Punjab.”—AFP
ISLAMABAD: The chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Pakistan, Michael Gahler, has said that apart from a few incidents of terrorism, the overall situation of the general election was satisfactory.
“Our observers visited as many as 300 polling stations in 87 constituencies and I have personally visited four polling stations. Though we will release our preliminary report on Friday and a detailed report will be released later after assessing the overall situation, there is improvement as compared to the previous election held in 2013,” he said while talking to reporters outside Ammar Khan Shaheed Model School for Boys in Sector G-10/3 on Wednesday.
He said that as many as 50 recommendations were given by the mission after the 2013 elections, out of which 36 were implemented or included in the electoral law.
When asked that some political parties were complaining that they were not given a level playing field, Mr Gahler said that the mission could not get access for a month due to which it was mostly depending on media reports.
He said that according to his assessment, the army was deployed under a code of conduct and it was strictly following it.
Mr Gahler also visited a polling station and asked a number of questions from presiding officer Muhammad Yousuf, who is a faculty member at the Federal Urdu University.
Earlier, while visiting Islamabad Model College for Girls F-6/2, Mr Gahler said that as many as 60 EU observers were working across the country, apart from Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
“We have observed smooth polling and many of our recommendations seem to be implemented and the security situation seems improved. However, we condemn the incident of Quetta where people who were electing their future leadership was attacked,” he said.
“This is a deplorable and cowardly attack on a day when voters across Pakistan should be casting their ballots in a peaceful environment, without fear or hindrance,” said Mr Gahler.
“Violence must not undermine the elections and the democratic process. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the people of Pakistan,” he added.
C’wealth group condemns Quetta attack
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group, General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar, condemned the suicide attack that occurred near a polling station in Quetta on Wednesday in which at least 31 people lost their lives and many others were injured.
Mr Abubakar offered condolences to the grieving families and hoped for quick recovery of the injured.
“This attack must not undermine the democratic exercise currently under way in Pakistan. We continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan today as they exercise their [right to] franchise,” he said.