Invitation extended under Section 238 of Elections Act, 2017.
ECP says it has open door policy for accreditation of observers.
Says international observers will ensure transparency, impartiality.
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday gave another indication that it would be holding elections in January as it extended an invite to international observers and media to monitor poll process to ensure transparency and impartiality.
In a two-page invite, sent under Section 238 of the Elections Act, 2017, the ECP explained the process for international observers and media to avail accreditation cards and visas to enter the country for the nationwide polls.
“The Election Commission has announced General Election is tentatively scheduled in the last week of January 2024. The Election Commission of Pakistan, has an Open Door Policy for accreditation of any national and international Observer subject to the fulfillment of codal formalities (Section 238 of the Elections Act 2017),” said the ECP.
The law makes it clear that observers will not be allowed to monitor polls till they have an accreditation which will be issued after the relevant documents and security clearance have been granted.
For the visa process, the ECP has explained that it may be obtained via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “Pakistan 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 in ECP Secretariat,” added the commission. It also advised them to follow the advisories of the Foreign Office and the interior ministry.
“We believe that the presence of international observers will add a valuable dimension to the electoral process, ensuring its transparency and impartiality while lending credibility to our electoral process. In this connection, all necessary arrangements will be made available for international observers to carry out their duties effectively and independently,” said the ECP.
The watchdog hoped that the international observers and media would give a “positive and valuable output” during the “important event” in Pakistan’s “democratic history”.
The country has been gripped in political uncertainty ever since the Imran Khan government was removed through a no-confidence motion in April 2022.
A coalition government that took over after Imran Khan’s ouster dissolved the National Assembly on August 9.
Following the premature dissolution of national and provincial assemblies, the ECP was required to hold elections within the 90-day time period, meaning the polls should take place no later than November 6.
However, the ECP said it was constitutionally bound to draw fresh boundaries ahead of the elections as the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had approved the census, hence holding elections within the stipulated time period was not possible.
Key political parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and others urged the ECP to hold polls at the earliest to end prevailing uncertainty in the country.
The United States and the United Kingdom have also called for free, fair and timely elections in the country.
But in September the uncertainty ended to an extent after the Election Commission announced that it would hold polls in the country in the last week of January.