International observers reluctant to monitor Pak polls

November 29th, 2007 - 5:28 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, Nov 29 (ANI): Several countries and international organisations are reluctant to send their teams to observe the general elections in Pakistan in case the state of emergency is not lifted before the electoral process.
Before the proclamation of emergency on November 3, the Pakistan Government was preparing to receive around 1,500 to 1,800 foreign observers, but it appears now that many countries and organisations are not ready to send their observers, sources said.
However, the government was optimistic about the arrival of a reasonable number of observers, playing down the emergency factor.
The Commonwealth, which was earlier likely to send about 30 observers, has linked it to the lifting of emergency well before the date of elections, diplomatic sources maintained.
The organisation has penalised Pakistan for the proclamation of emergency by suspending its membership.
Sources in the European Union said that some ‘very important issues’ were to be taken into account before a decision was made on sending observers to Pakistan.
In reply to a question, sources said that the EU was initially considering dispatching about 200 observers, but the November 3 development had changed the situation altogether.
“The EU will have its session shortly in Brussels on this particular issue. We are following the events very closely in Pakistan before a final decision is taken. It will be useless if the emergency is lifted three or four days before the polling date,” sources in the union contended.
The EU, he maintained, would like the emergency lifted well before the people of Pakistan go to polls, lifting of curbs on media and civil liberties, ensuring an environment conducive to elections.
Pakistans Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said that right now, there was complete silence over the visit of foreign observers.
However, he hastened to add that the government was looking forward to the visit of observers in the next few weeks.
The FO spokesman did not agree with the observation that emergency factor might keep the observers at bay. He rather insisted that emergency and elections were two entirely different matters.
Sadiq noted that the expected visitors would start landing in Pakistan close to the date of elections.
Elections to the National Assembly and provincial assemblies are slated for January 8, The News reported.
Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad said that he had no idea as to how many foreign observers would be coming to Pakistan.
However, he added that the commission was geared up to facilitate the visitors, no matter how big their number was, before and during the elections.
Another ECP official, requesting anonymity, said that the chances of observers from the Commonwealth and the European Union was quite slim but hoped that up to 1,000 would come from the US alone.
Earlier in 2002, foreign observers had described the elections as rigged and charged that the state machinery was involved to manipulate results.
It might be recalled that more than one thousand foreign observers had witnessed the electoral process in 2002 and interacted with the government representatives, political parties and officials of the ECP. (ANI)

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