HRCP concerned over election counting process
LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Tuesday expressed satisfaction that the 2018 general elections were held on time and remained, by and large, peaceful. However, it regretted the loss of many lives in violence preceding the elections and condoled with the families of the victims.
In a statement, the HRCP expressed satisfaction and said that the conduct of the polls remained peaceful, but it shared concern over the complaints made by several political parties as well as the HRCP’s observers regarding the management of post-poll formalities. Numerous reports that vote count was poorly handled – with polling agents prevented from observing the final count in many cases and the unprecedented delay in results have cast a shadow on the electoral process.
These questions must be diligently addressed to avoid any doubts concerning the credibility of the elections.
The HRCP’s field reports have indicated that observers’ access to polling stations remained problematic, for instance in NA-164 (Vehari), NA-125 (Lahore), NA-13 (Mansehra), NA-270 (Panjgur), NA-260 (Nasirabad) and NA-25 (Nowshera). Moreover, many observers were prevented from remaining at any polling station long enough to document and verify their observations satisfactorily. The HRCP urged the ECP to appreciate the fact that election observation is a time-consuming exercise on which the credibility of the election hinges.
The HRCP expressed concern over reports that polling agents, the media and observers were not allowed to remain present during the vote count in many cases. Observers in numerous constituencies, including NA-100 (Chiniot), NA-76 (Sialkot), NA-13 (Mansehra), NA-16 (Abbottabad), NA-49 (South Waziristan Agency), NA-129, NA-130 and NA-131 (Lahore), were prevented from observing the vote count. Indeed, HRCP’s observer team in Turbat reported that polling agents were locked into a separate room while the votes were being counted. At one polling station in NA-125 (Lahore), the presiding officer ordered an observer out of the polling station, reportedly without just cause, threatening to have him arrested unless he complied. The HRCP expressed hope that the ECP would investigate into such incidents and make its findings public.