ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday extended the deadline for voters’ registration till Oct 28 and invited international observers to monitor the upcoming general elections.

In a letter sent to the secretaries of interior and foreign affairs ministries, the ECP stated, “We would take this opportunity to welcome international observers to observe the polling process neutrally, impartially with their very well-articulated feedback and reports.”

The letter reiterates the ECP announcement that general elections are tentatively scheduled for the last week of January 2024. “The Election Commission of Pakistan has an open-door policy for the accreditation of any national and international observer subject to the fulfillment of codal formalities…”, the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, reads.

Extends voters’ registration deadline by three days

“In this connection, all necessary arrangements will be made available for international observers to carry out their duties effectively and independently. We look forward to a positive and valuable output from international observers during this important event in our nation’s democratic history and hope that their stay here in Pakistan will be pleasant and instrumental in furthering the principles of fairness, transparency and impartiality in elections,” stated the letter with the signature of Haroon Khan Shinwari, additional director general for the ECP’s media coordination and outreach wing.

It explained the process for international observers and media to avail accreditation cards and visas to enter the country for the nationwide polls defined under Section 238 of the Elections Act, 2017. The law makes it clear that observers will not be allowed to monitor polls till they have an accreditation that will be issued after scrutiny of relevant documents and security clearance.

For the visa process, the ECP has explained that it may be obtained via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ online portal. Along with the visa application, those wishing to come to the country for the polls will also need to attach the “accreditation application form” that is available on the ECP’s website.

“After completion of codal formalities as per law, ECP will issue accreditation cards to security cleared international observers/media and arrange briefings for observers at ECP secretariat,” the ECP added. It also advised them to follow the advisories of the foreign office and the interior ministry.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2023

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