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LAHORE: The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) has released its assessment of the 2024 general election, indicating a concerning decline in fairness scores compared to previous election cycles.

The 2024 assessment report is based on independent analysis alongside a questionnaire that was scored by a cross-section of civil society, comprising politicians, lawyers, activists, academics, retired bureaucrats and retired military officials as well as politically aware youth, said a statement issued by the PILDAT.

The PILDAT has recommended that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the delays in the transmission, consolidation and announcement of provisional results, the lack of contingency planning to meet result issuance deadlines in case of the EMS inoperability and the failure to publish signed copies of forms 45, 46, 48 and 49 within 14 days of polling day as required under the Elections Act, 2017.

The PILDAT has also recommended that election tribunals should be allowed to resolve disputes on a case-by-case basis. Although election tribunals are given a legal deadline of 180 days to decide election petitions, many petitions take much longer to decide.

The PILDAT has also shown deep concern over availability of only two election tribunals have been constituted in Punjab compared to eight constituted after 2018 general election and nine reportedly requested by the ECP this time. This indicates that a much longer delay in deciding election petitions is expected this time.

PILDAT has strongly demanded that the number of Election Tribunals should be adequately increased to decide all election petitions within the legal deadline of 180 days without fail. The second one is, in addition to the election tribunals, to constitute a Commission of Enquiry like the one formed to probe the General Election 2013.

The PILDAT report has highlighted considerable delays were observed in scheduling of the election, political repression, lack of impartiality from the caretaker governments and the state institutions and worsening law and order in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan during the pre-poll phase.

On the polling day, it added, the suspension of mobile phone and internet services not only compromised the Election Management System (EMS) but also created problems for public participation in the electoral process. It has also marked a number of factors falling after polling was completed, impacting the fairness of the whole process.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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