Pakistan Polls: While EU observers found flaws, India’s ex-CEC didn’t find any

Islamabad: With the just arrived results in Pakistan, many observers from the European Union Commonwealth are of the opinion that the election results were flawed but former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India SY Quraishi got a different opinion and that has definitely caught him in controversy, TOI reported.

“I think it was a very free, fair and transparent election,” Quraishi was reported as saying by NDTV but on the other hand, Chief of the EU’s election observation mission Michael Gahler opined that the political environment in Pakistan had negatively influenced the vote count.

“The entire process was not as good as in 2013 (when elections were last held) and we have concluded there was a lack of equality of opportunity,” he said.

Observing the chain of events immediately after the disqualification of former PM Nawaz and his daughter Maryam’s controversial arrest and their trusted party members joining the opposition party, Gahler opined there was indeed “far stronger” efforts than usual to encourage switching parties and “judicial conduct.”

Elaborating on the tense political environment before the polling, Gahler-led mission’s report said: “A number of violent attacks, targeting political parties, party leaders, candidates and election officials, affected the campaign environment. Most interlocutors acknowledged a systematic effort to undermine the former ruling party through cases of corruption, contempt of court and terrorist charges against its leaders and candidates. The electorally sensitive timing, as well as the content of decisions of courts investigating or adjudicating on matters related to high-profile PML-N candidates, were perceived by several stakeholders as an indication of the politicisation of the judiciary. These cases reshaped the political environment ahead of the elections.”

And speaking about the terror accused Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Taiba’s party Milli Muslim League ho has fielded over 150 candidates – the report noted with concern that “the emergence of extremist parties with affiliations either to terrorist groups, or individuals linked to organizations that have used, incited or advocated violence”.

While Quraishi responded by saying, “All of them, about 200 that we spoke to, was satisfied with the election process, saying that everything was fine, free and fair. Despite our probing, they did not make a single complaint,” the former Indian CEC stated, adding, the observers including him had previously raised concerns of Pakistani army personnel present inside the polling stations.

“He (Pakistan’s CEC) told us that during 2013 elections, the troops were deployed outside polling booths and there were a lot of complaints of rigging. He said the presence of one soldier inside the polling booth, this time, was for the purpose to control rigging, adding, but we found that their presence was just innocuous. They were just hanging around with one man inside the booth and one outside checking identity cards of the voters and it was all going on very smooth,” Quraishi said.