Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi announced on Tuesday that the February 8 general elections in Pakistan will be closely monitored by international observers and journalists. The government is currently processing over 170 requests, including two dozen from India. Solangi revealed that 49 visas have already been issued to foreign journalists, with an additional 32 currently under process. The High Commission in New Delhi has received around 24 requests from India, among the total 174 requests from various outlets.
Solangi addressed concerns about the credibility of the election process, stating that rumors spreading about the absence of international observers or journalists were unfounded. He dismissed the notion that the elections would be conducted in a manner that lacks transparency and stressed that there is no truth in such rumors.
Regarding international observers, Solangi mentioned that applications from various countries, including Britain, Russia, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and Commonwealth nations, were also under processing. Accreditation cards for foreign journalists and international observers are currently restricted to Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. However, Solangi mentioned that requests to visit other cities are being considered on a case-to-case basis.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had invited international observers soon after announcing the general elections in October 2023. The move comes amid allegations from jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, claiming a lack of a "level playing field." The ECP has taken actions such as stripping PTI of its symbol, the cricket bat, and rejecting nomination papers of Khan and several party leaders.
(With Agency Inputs)