HRW questions EC's impartiality -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

HRW questions EC’s impartiality

ISLAMABAD: Human Rights Watch on Tuesday warned that the Election Commission of Pakistan had failed to investigate reports of campaign violations, threatening the validity of next week’s crucial national polls.

The New York-based group said in a statement that the commission had ignored reports of arrests and harassment of opposition party members, and failed to act independently. “There have been numerous complaints of improper government assistance to the ruling party and illegal interference with opposition activities,” said Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director.

“But the Election Commission has done nothing significant to address these problems, raising serious questions about its impartiality.” Human Rights Watch said that election candidates had so far filed more than 1,500 complaints of irregularities, but few had been investigated.

These included reports of police obstructing opposition rallies, threatening opposition candidates, removing posters for opposition parties and putting up banners of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q).

The group also questioned the impartiality of the Election Commission, whose chief commissioner and other key members were directly appointed by the president. “The Election Commission’s lack of independence and impartiality is among the crucial structural issues impeding free and fair elections,” HRW said. There was no immediate comment from the Election Commission.
Source: The News
Date:2/13/2008