Commonwealth Observers praise ECP, security agencies for holding elections freely, peacefully

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ISLAMABAD, Jul 27 (APP):, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group, General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar Friday praised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), security forces and the authorities concerned for their respective roles during the generally free and peaceful electoral process.
He was addressing a press conference here at a hotel on the conclusion of electoral process in the country.
He also issued an interim statement regarding General Election 2018 in Pakistan.
General Abdulsalami said the group had arrived in Pakistan on July 18, and met the officials of the ECP, chief of army staff of Pakistan, the foreign minister, political parties leaders, civil society, media representatives, Commonwealth High Commissioners, citizen observers, as well as other international observers.
Abubaker, who is also a former head of state Federal Republic of Nigeria commended the voters, the ECP, polling staff, political parties, candidates, their agents, the security forces and all others for their respective roles during the generally peaceful electoral process in the country.
He observed that candidates from political parties, including independent candidates, were largely able to campaign freely and peacefully. They were also able to organise public rallies as per Election Rules 2017, he added.
If any allegation of negative campaigning was received the ECP and deputy commissioners in the districts concerned took timely action on breaches of campaign rules, he further observed.
There was extensive coverage of the election on television, print, radio and online media, he said and the state broadcasters followed the ECP guidelines for equitable airtime for all the parties.
However, political parties with greater financial resources were able to place more advertisements on private, print and electronic media, thereby putting others at a disadvantage, he observed.
Social media emerged as a powerful tool for political debates and discussions about the election, particularly among young people, he said.
The General Election 2018 was an important milestone in strengthening democracy in Pakistan, he said. “We commend the people of Pakistan, who have shown commitment to exercising their right to vote.”
He appreciated the ECP saying did a laudable job in terms of the short time frame it had to implement its mandate for holding transparent elections on schedule.
“We urge those who have grievances about the process to seek redress through the established channels of dispute resolution. We will make recommendations about further enhancing the electoral process in our final report.”
He said the general election was conducted under a substantially reformed and improved legal framework consisting of the Constitution of Pakistan, the Election Act 2017 and the Election Rules 2017. This is a significant achievement, reached through a consultative process, he added.
He said the observer teams were deployed around the country on July 23, 2018, to observe the
election environment and preparations for the poll.
The Observers Group was deployed in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Karachi and Hyderabad and visited 107 polling stations in different constituencies and met voters, provincial electoral officials, political parties, the police, civil society and other stakeholders in their respective locations to gain a broader picture of the electoral process on the ground, he added.