HRCP releases 2024 elections report, demands independent audit

PoliticsHRCP releases 2024 elections report, demands independent audit

LAHORE, Pakistan: In a report released on Saturday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called into question the integrity and credibility of the February 8 general elections.

Reports from HRCP’s election observers, who carried out spot-checks across 51 constituencies, indicate that the countrywide internet and cellular services shutdown on polling day and arbitrary changes in polling information compromised voters’ access to polling stations. This was particularly true for women with restricted mobility, persons living with disabilities, the elderly, and low-income voters. Of particular concern is the protracted delay in announcement of election results by the returning officers.

   

Broadly, the polling process itself remained transparent and peaceful. Polling staff were generally well-prepared and well-equipped. In almost all cases, polling agents and candidates were shown the empty ballot boxes prior to polling and the presiding officer was observed stamping and signing the back of each ballot paper before giving it to the voter. The ballot box was in everyone’s sight at all times and voters were allowed to stamp their ballot papers in secret.

However, the post-polling process was clearly unsatisfactory. In a fifth of all polling stations observed by HRCP, the presiding officer did not affix the statement of the count in a conspicuous place for public display or was not seen transmitting a photograph of the result to the Returning Officer (RO) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

It was alleged in many instances that the returning officer’s announcement did not tally with the presiding officer’s count. Worryingly, reports of candidates, polling agents and observers being denied permission to witness the provisional consolidation of results, also surfaced.

Click Here for HRCP’s Complete Report on February 8 Elections

The HRCP recommends an independent audit of the 2024 elections under the supervision of a parliamentary body. Security and intelligence agencies should play no role in managing the electoral process or its outcomes. Parliament must also debate the utility of the caretaker government scheme. Seamless cellular and internet services must be available on polling day, including after polling has stopped.

The ECP must publish all Forms 45, 46, 48 and 49 in accordance with the Elections Act 2017. On receiving petitions from aggrieved political parties or candidates, the ECP should order ballot recounts in close contests and especially in cases where the number of rejected ballots exceeds the margin of victory.

The integrity of the 2024 elections was compromised, not only by lack of competence on the part of the ECP but also by constant pressure from extra-democratic quarters and questionable decisions by the caretaker government, all of which HRCP has documented in the year preceding the polls. It is now critical for all parties to collectively uphold and protect civilian supremacy through consistent, meaningful and inclusive political dialogue. Indeed, the biggest casualty of these elections has not been any one individual or political party per se, but democratic values, the rule of law and the aspirations of ordinary people.

Mati
Mati
Mati-Ullah is the Online Editor For DND. He is the real man to handle the team around the Country and get news from them and provide to you instantly.

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