Commonwealth report commends Pakistan’s election efforts amid challenges

Commonwealth report

ISLAMABAD: In a comprehensive assessment of Pakistan’s 2024 General Elections, the Commonwealth has commended the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and its staff for their diligent preparation and logistical efforts, despite facing notable challenges.

The report, released by Commonwealth Observers Group, acknowledges the substantial increase in registered voters, reaching approximately 128 million, reflecting a significant surge from the 2018 elections. This surge posed logistical challenges, compounded by adverse weather conditions and security concerns.

While praising the efforts of polling and security officials in ensuring the safety and security of polling stations, the report also recognizes the unfortunate loss of lives due to pre-election attacks and extends condolences to the affected families.

Moreover, the report highlights the impact of devastating floods in 2022, which led to the loss of computerized national identity cards (CNICs) for many voters, potentially disenfranchising them. Additionally, some voters faced difficulties accessing polling stations relocated from their original locations.

The Commonwealth report acknowledges reforms in Pakistan’s legal framework leading up to the elections, aiming to ensure compliance with the Constitution and Commonwealth values. However, it raises concerns about gender disparity in candidate representation and barriers to minority community participation.

Notably, the active involvement of youth in campaigns and social media is commended, reflecting the increasing engagement of young people in Pakistan’s political landscape.

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The report also addresses challenges related to media freedom, including pressure on media coverage and restrictions on internet access during Election Day, impacting freedom of speech and communication.

Despite these challenges, the report applauds the determination of Pakistani citizens to exercise their right to vote and calls for patience and restraint during the results process. It emphasizes the importance of addressing disputes through prescribed electoral dispute resolution mechanisms.

In conclusion, the Commonwealth reaffirms its commitment to supporting Pakistan’s post-election journey and encourages continued efforts to strengthen the electoral process and uphold democratic values.

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