ISLAMABAD, May 12: Despite some irregularities and violence at polling stations, the general elections 2013 were ‘relatively fair’, according to preliminary observations of the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen).

A report released by Fafen Chairman Zahid Islam during a press conference here on Sunday said that in some areas of the country, including parts of Karachi, people were not freely allowed to take part in voting process and in some constituencies women were barred from casting their votes.

The report said the situation in Karachi was so worrisome that it was not clear if the results reflected free will of voters. It cited violence, boycotts of elections by some political parties during mid-polling, obstructions in the work of election observers and administrative failures in Karachi. Mr Islam was accompanied by Fafen secretary Sadiqa Salahuddin and CEO Muddassar Rizvi.

The report praised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for a smooth process, saying it had implemented several positive reforms.

The report is based on summary reports from 41,000 observers based across the country.

It indicated irregularities also in some parts of Punjab and said because of poor security situation in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) it was difficult to say that elections results reflected free will of voters.

He said the election 2013 was the first polls in Pakistan since the country ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in 2010, accepting additional legal obligations with respect to all elections.

The report said the election 2013 was notable for both colourful and competitive campaigning in Punjab and violence and terror attacks in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The relatively high voter turnout and public enthusiasm for this election augurs well for democratic consolidation, bringing potential for more sustained citizen engagement and improved public accountability and governance,” the report said.