News / Asia

EU Plays Down Absence of Pakistan Election Monitors in High-Risk Areas

Pakistani vendors fix posters of candidates taking part in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Lahore, Pakistan, April 5, 2013.
Pakistani vendors fix posters of candidates taking part in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Lahore, Pakistan, April 5, 2013.
Sharon Behn
The European Union is deploying monitors to observe the electoral process in Pakistan, for the country's May elections.  But none of those monitors will travel to the country's high-risk regions.
 
Michael Gahler, chief of the European Union's Election Observation Mission to Pakistan, admits that none of the 110 monitors they will have working in Pakistan during the May 11 national elections will be present in areas where there is a security threat.
 
But Gahler played down the impact the EU absence from those areas would have on the evaluation of the country's electoral process, saying local monitors would be present.
 
"The fact that many local observers will also be on the ground, I think, gives the confidence for voters in these areas that they can freely cast their vote," he said.  "That is my conviction."

Human-rights activist Tahira Abdullah says the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and other independent national observers such as the Free and Fair Election Network would be present in high-risk areas.
 
But she says the absence of the EU observation mission in those areas will be strongly felt.
 
"The European Union will have a grave hole in its own report," she said. "I would like to point out here that the areas they are not going to are the very same areas where women are being barred from voting"
 
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, 10 to 15 million of the 85 million voters live in Pakistan's so-called sensitive areas, such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the northwest border with Afghanistan, in the restive southern province of Baluchistan and in certain areas of the violent city of Karachi.
 
The country director for U.N. Women in Pakistan, Lena Lindberg, told VOA in some of the higher-risk areas extremists have threatened any woman who dares to cast a vote.  But she says for the first time, the Election Commission will segregate ballots by gender.

"And therefore, we will now be able to see exactly how many women voted, not only for the whole country, and the overall turnout, but also for every polling station," she said. "So from now on it will be possible in Pakistan to see if there are polling stations where there were nearly no women voters at all, maybe even zero women voters."

That will allow Pakistan to focus in on those areas in future elections.
 
In a recent interview with VOA, Election Commission of Pakistan Additional Secretary Afzal Khan said, given the security situation, it was better to have fewer observers in harm's way.  But, he also said it is crucial that voters accept the election results as free and fair.
 
"... as far as observation is concerned, this election commission, we need certification of the voters, if they are satisfied we are satisfied, if they are happy we are happy, we need the trust and certification of clean elections by the political parties, losers and the winners," he said.

According to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, in addition to the European Union, the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute is organizing an international team of 57 short and long-term observers.  Several governments, including the United States, Japan and Turkey, are also expected to send in observers.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid