The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday invited international observers and media to monitor the upcoming general elections—expected to occur at the end of January—to ensure transparency and impartiality.
Announcing an “open door policy,” the two-page invitation has been issued under Section 238 of the Elections Act, 2017 and explains the accreditation process for international observers and media wishing to enter the country to monitor the polls. “The Election Commission has announced general election, tentatively scheduled in the last week of January 2024,” it stated. “The Election Commission of Pakistan has an open door policy for accreditation of any national and international observer subject to the fulfillment of codal formalities (Section 238 of the Elections Act 2017),” it added, referring to the law that requires international observers and media to undergo security clearance.
In its invite, the ECP further directs foreigners to secure valid visas through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, adding that they must attach “accreditation application form” available on the ECP’s website with their documents. “After completion of codal formalities as per law, ECP will issue accreditation cards to security cleared international observers/media and arrange briefings for observers in ECP Secretariat,” it said, noting advisories issued by the Foreign Office and the Interior Ministry should be adhered to.
“We believe that the presence of international observers will add a valuable dimension to the electoral process, ensuring its transparency and impartiality while lending credibility to our electoral process. In this connection, all necessary arrangements will be made available for international observers to carry out their duties effectively and independently,” assured the electoral watchdog.
The ECP concluded its invitation by hoping international observers and media would give “positive and valuable output” during the “important event” in Pakistan’s “democratic history.”
The invite has been issued two days after the ECP held a meeting at its Secretariat on the inclusion of international observers in the upcoming polls. In the meeting, it was decided to direct Foreign Missions abroad to commence the process for inviting foreign observers within a week. Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, meanwhile, directed the Interior Ministry and other departments to ensure security for the foreigners. He also directed the Federal Board of Revenue to grant exemption from customs duty for equipment being availed by international media outlets.