ISLAMABAD: The European Union on Monday launched its observation mission to monitor general election in Pakistan due to be held on May 11, but announced that none of its 110 observers will be posted in Balochistan and the Tribal Areas due to security concerns.
“It is with regret that I must say that we are not able to have observers in important parts of the country such as FATA and Balochistan. While we will still follow events in these areas, we will not be able to have observers on the ground seeing things directly,” Michael Gahler, head of the mission, told journalists. He, however, hoped that his team would still be able to work effectively and get a good sample nationally.
“We do not need to be present in each and every constituency or region. We just need a sample to judge a process,” he said, and added that EU observers will monitor 193 out of 272 constituencies.
“We are in contact with local observation groups. In our report we, of course, not only consider information that we have gathered on our own but also take note of what others, who are on the ground, report.”
He said the mission’s role was to provide an independent neutral assessment of the election process and make recommendations for future election reforms.“We are not coming to impose our own personal ideas of how an election should be. Rather we are referring to the commitments Pakistan has made in human rights instruments relating to elections,” he said, and added that the observers cannot interfere in the electoral process and have no authority to give instructions.
Gahler said 52 long-term observers will be deployed in pairs to different parts of the country while another 46 short-term observers will be deployed for a week or so around the election day.He said the mission will hold a press conference two days after the election and will issue a ‘preliminary statement’ while the final report, which will include the recommendations, will come approximately two months later.This is the third election in Pakistan to be monitored by the EU. Previously, the observation missions were deployed in 2002 and 2008. – DailyTimes