Delay in poll reforms to undermine next elections, cautions EU mission

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ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani in a meeting with Michael Gahler, former chief of the European Union Election Observation Mission, at Parliament House on Wednesday.—INP
ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani in a meeting with Michael Gahler, former chief of the European Union Election Observation Mission, at Parliament House on Wednesday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: A member of the European parliament and head of the European Union’s electoral follow-up mission in Pakistan, Michael Gahler warned on Wednesday that delay in electoral reforms would undermine the next general elections

Speaking at a press conference here, Mr Gahler, who led the European Union’s election observation missions to Pakistan in 2008 and 2013, referred to a number of ‘shortcomings’ in the local government elections, including inadequate legal frameworks, reduced transparency, lack of confidence in the work of returning officers, and weak mechanisms for legal remedy and noted that “such problems show the urgent need for election reforms to avoid uncertainty, conflict or instability in the next general elections”.

Mr Gahler said that the EU’s GSP+ agreement with Pakistan for preferential trade arrangements required implementation of international conventions, including obligations regarding electoral processes.

“The EU, therefore, trusts that Pakistani authorities will fulfil their commitments to improving election and political participation. This includes adequate legal reform, stronger ECP performance and transparency, improved opportunities for legal remedy, and increased participation of women and minorities,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2016