Wednesday, July 05, 2023
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EU polls observers see no signs of general elections in Pakistan this year

"Won't send observation mission to Pakistan this year as no invitation received yet," says Michael Gahler

Chief Observer Michael Gahler addresses a press conference in Islamabad as the EU Election Observation Mission begins its work in Pakistan ahead of 2018 elections. — EU Observer Mission
Chief Observer Michael Gahler addresses a press conference in Islamabad as the EU Election Observation Mission begins its work in Pakistan ahead of 2018 elections. — EU Observer Mission

  • "We are not sure about the general elections in Pakistan in 2023”.
  • EOM needs invitation from Pakistan to send their observers: Gahler.
  • 2013 polls “much better” than 2008, 2018 elections: EU lawmaker.


BRUSSELS: Michael Gahler, the head of the Election Observation Mission (EOM) of the EU Parliament, has said that the EU may not send its election observers to Pakistan this year “because we are not sure about the general elections in Pakistan in 2023”.

He said this while speaking to a group of Pakistani journalists in the EU Parliament who are visiting Belgium at the invitation of the European External Action Service.

Gahler is a member of the EU Parliament since 1999 and headed the EOM of Pakistan in 2008, 2013 and 2018.

He said that the EOM needed an invitation from the government of Pakistan to send their observation mission for the monitoring of the election at least three months before the election date. “But we have not received any invitation from Pakistan yet,” he added.

He said that according to his understanding election in Pakistan should be held in October this year. “But there are no indications of the election that’s why it will not be possible to send an observation mission but if the election will be held next year then we can hope to send an expert mission,” the EU lawmaker said.

He further said that they can only send a small expert mission to Pakistan this year but even for that mission, they need an invitation. Responding to a question, he said that his observation mission always visited Pakistan at the invitation of the government and the election commission.

He said an invitation is required to visit Pakistan for making arrangements and added that the 2013 general elections were “much better” than the 2008 and 2018 polls.

Gahler said that EU observers faced a lot of problems in the 2018 elections such as they were issued visas very late and their teams were not allowed to visit polling stations.

The media was more open in 2008 and 2013 but media was facing pressures in 2018 and it was clear to us that the establishment was helping Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in 2018 very openly and they helped him to become prime minister, the EU parliamentarian added.

Without commenting on the reasons behind rifts between the PTI chief and the establishment, Gahler said Khan was removed through a no-confidence in parliament and that motion was legal.

He also said that the PTI should be allowed to participate in the next election without any hurdles and called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to play a neutral role and hold the polls in time according to the constitutional requirement.