LONDON: The BBC this week published a clarification about a claim made during a BBC HardTalk interview with former finance minister Ishaq Dar, in which the host said the 2018 general election in Pakistan was “credible”.
Mr Dar told Dawn he complained to the BBC after the interview was aired in December 2020, that after five months and two rounds of communications, the BBC published a clarification on its website.
The BBC statement said: “In exchanges about the Pakistani elections of July 2018 we referred to a report by EU election monitors. We said that while the monitors reported some grave concerns about abuses in specific places involving different parties “the final and ultimate conclusion was that they believed the result was credible”.
“We should have made clear that we were quoting comments made by the Chief Observer of the EU Monitors Michael Gahler at a press conference to launch a preliminary statement on the election in July 2018 and not the report itself. He said that “overall the election results are credible”.
Mr Gahler also expressed concerns about the election process in Pakistan: “Our overall assessment of the election process is that it is not as good as in 2013… Candidates with large political appeal and financial means, the so-called ‘electables’ were reported to often dominate the campaign. Uneven rules on campaign spending further undermined candidates’ equal opportunity.”
It added: “The final report by the EU Monitors, published in October 2018, described voting as “well-conducted and transparent in most of the 446 polling stations observed” but said “the count, transmission and tabulation of results lacked transparency, leaving room for allegations of electoral malpractices. It made a range of recommendations regarding future elections in Pakistan.”
Speaking to Dawn, Mr Dar said the interview was “one-sided, biased and not neutral”. “Nowhere in the 91-page EU report does it say the election was credible.”
In the interview, Mr Dar had been grilled by host Stephen Sackur on a range of subjects, including his family’s property and assets and his return to Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2021