In a bid to ensure transparency and fairness in the upcoming electoral process, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) extended invitations to international observers and media, signaling its intention to conduct nationwide polls tentatively scheduled for the last week of January 2024, as reported by Nausheen Yusuf for Geo.

In a two-page invite, sent under Section 238 of the Elections Act, 2017, the ECP explained the process for international observers and media to avail accreditation cards and visas to enter the country for the nationwide polls.

“The Election Commission has announced General Election is tentatively scheduled in the last week of January 2024. 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),” said the ECP.

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The commission laid out a detailed procedure for obtaining necessary visas, directing interested parties to the Pakistan Online Portal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Alongside the visa application, applicants were instructed to submit the accreditation application form accessible on the ECP’s official website.

For the visa process, the ECP has explained that it may be obtained via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “Pakistan Online Portal”. Along with the visa application, those wishing to come to the country for the polls will also need to attach the “accreditation application form” that is available on the ECP’s website.

“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,” added the commission. It also advised them to follow the advisories of the Foreign Office and the interior ministry.

“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,” said the ECP.

Pakistan has been embroiled in a state of political flux since the removal of the Imran Khan government through a no-confidence motion in April 2022. Subsequently, the coalition government that took over, dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, leading to the necessity of holding elections within 90 days, as per constitutional requirements.

However, the ECP faced obstacles in meeting the deadline due to the need to establish new electoral boundaries following the approval of the census by the Council of Common Interest (CCI). Notably, the major political parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), had urged the ECP to expedite the electoral process to quell the prevailing political uncertainty in the country.