Further doubt has been cast on an election that was already fraught with misgivings and apparent loopholes – this time by EU election observers. At a conference held in Islamabad, the EU Election Observation Mission’s Chief Observer. Michael Gahler has stated amongst other things that Pakistan 2018 elections have turned out to be worse than those of 2013.
Many have taken notice of the impactful statements made by the EU observers mission.
What Gahler has basically highlighted is the unfairness of the pre-polling process:
Although there were several legal provisions aimed at ensuring a level playing field, we have concluded that there was a lack of equality and opportunity.
This conclusion, Gahler went on to explain, was made looking at the instances of media repression as well as a crackdown on political workers (a major example being Nawaz Sharif’s arrest and that of other PML-N workers).
The points made by Gahler certainly have a degree of credibility; PML-N certainly seems to think so:
In an already confused climate where rigging accusations are being readily flung, the EU observers’ findings provide ammunition to those who had claimed foul play. However, this doesn’t give us a clear, objective understanding of just how well-founded Gahler and his team’s findings are, and more importantly, their impact on the country’s current climate.
The Election Observation Mission Core Team had been in Pakistan since late June and was later joined by 120 other analysts who would help observe elections throughout the country. The objective of this mission is to ensure elections are carried out in a ‘peaceful, inclusive, transparent, and credible’ manner.
Transparent and credible they were, according to the mission – but perhaps not strictly peaceful and inclusive, and that is the distinction that has been drawn by the team.
The mission also noted a level of non-inclusivity of certain sects was still prevalent in this year’s elections, although an improvement has definitely been seen:
Furthermore, an important observation recorded pertaining to the role of the military is also circulating on social media:
This is a significant development, seeing as some people had been quite sure about the army having a hand in influencing election results. According to the EU observers, however, this has not been the case – elections were carried out in a ‘satisfactory’ manner. But just how satisfactory can an election be when its pre-polling process has revealed clear discrepancies between the motives of different factions?
Yes, the media was to a degree repressed, and yes, political workers were detained on a large-scale. Should these events not be an indication of an unsatisfactory election process? Unfortunately, however, in a charged climate like the one we have here in Pakistan, perfection can rarely be attained – and nor should it be expected, as elections, no matter where they are being held in the world will often turn out to be a difficult, complex, murky undertaking.