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Now the general elections appear to be very much in sight. The announcement of election schedule and the consequent start of nomination process for candidates are the factors that have certainly eased people’s concerns that they have been voicing over the delay in general elections since the arrival of the caretaker setup in the country, although the question whether or not the delay has been based on lawful grounds still needs a plausible answer.

Let bygones be bygones in view of the fact that February 8 2024, the date for general elections, is around the corner.

That electoral integrity depends on transparency of all aspects of electoral process is a fact. In my view, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been trying harder in order to win voters’ confidence.

In his message on the occasion of National Voters’ Day earlier this month, for example, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja had made a very important point insofar as the upcoming elections are concerned.

Not only did he urge people to fully participate in the polls, he asked them to reject all kinds of rumours about elections. According to him, “people should remember that they have the power to vote in their hands — use this power keeping in view your future and that of your children.”

He made it clear that ECP is fully ready and determined to hold free, fair and peaceful elections. However, the election commission would be required to ensure, among other things, a level playing field to all the contestants.

It is also expected to ensure that national and international observers observe and monitor all parts of election process freely, independently and without any fear of intimidation.

The ECP must not lose sight of the fact that the delay in elections for whatever reasons has cast shadows over its integrity. How ironic however it is that whatever the election commission does and doesn’t do towards holding free, fair and transparent elections the big picture is already clear: vote fraud allegations.

Mohsin Reza

Islamabad

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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