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ISLAMABAD: The general election 2024 was less fair than the past two general elections as it scored 49 percent in fairness assessment which is three percentage points lower than the score received for the 2018 general election and eight percentage points lower than the score for the 2013 general election, according to an assessment of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat).

The report, “Assessment of the Quality of General Election 2024”, observed that fairness assessment scores for the 2013 and 2018 elections had stood at 57 percent and 52 percent respectively.

In this report, Pildat has highlighted the key issues which have negatively impacted the quality of the 2024 general election.

General Elections 2024: PILDAT releases its assessment report

During the pre-poll phase, Pildat observed considerable delays in scheduling of the election, political repression, lack of impartiality from State institutions and worsening law and order in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

The suspension of mobile phone and internet services on polling day not only compromised the Election Management System (EMS) but also created problems in public participation in the electoral process.

The delay in the announcement of the provisional results beyond the deadline fixed in Section 13(3) of the Elections Act, 2017 has prompted serious questions about the credibility of the election.

The widespread allegations of discrepancy between Form-45 and Form-47, suggesting that the provisional result was tempered with at the returning officers’ offices, have also created concerns around the credibility of the election.

The failure to publish Forms 45, 46, 48 and 49 on the ECP website within 14 days of polling day, as mandated by Section 95 (10) of the Elections Act, 2017, prompted questions regarding the integrity of the election results.

The ECP decision to allocate or not allocate the reserved seats to SIC was delayed and remained a major point of contention between the ECP and the SIC for 25 days since the polling day, while allocation of reserved seats was made to all other political parties.

In order to bring the controversies relating to general election 2024 to a close, it has been recommended that there are two possible avenues which need to be considered.

The most straightforward one is to allow Election Tribunals to resolve disputes on a case-by-case basis.

However, this will be a slow process as tribunals are allowed 180 days for resolution in the law and many petitions are decided even beyond the legal deadline.

Moreover, issues of understaffing have been raised.

Reportedly, the Lahore High Court has only constituted two tribunals against a request for nine by the ECP.

The second option is, in addition to the tribunals, to constitute a Commission of Enquiry like the one formed to probe the general election 2013.

This is an avenue that the incoming National Assembly should deliberate over to decide whether it is required and if it will help attain some political stability.

Overall, the controversies and challenges that dominated the 2024 election cycle in Pakistan point once again to the need for greater transparency and accountability to overcome systemic shortcomings and safeguard the integrity of future electoral processes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU Apr 09, 2024 10:01am
Finally awake, and reports after lapse of two months, PILDAT should review it's useless existence.
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