Pakistan: HRCP questions credibility of elections, demands independent audit


In a scathing report released on Saturday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) raised serious concerns about the integrity and credibility of the February 8 elections, citing a range of issues that have cast a shadow over the democratic process.

HRCP’s election observers, who conducted spot-checks across 51 constituencies, highlighted the countrywide internet and cellular services shutdown on polling day as a significant factor compromising voters’ access to polling stations. The report particularly underscores the challenges faced by women with restricted mobility, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and low-income voters.

While acknowledging that the polling process itself remained transparent and peaceful, HRCP expressed deep dissatisfaction with the post-polling process. Delays in announcing election results, alleged discrepancies between the returning officer’s announcement and the presiding officer’s count, and reports of denied access for candidates, polling agents, and observers during the provisional consolidation of results raised serious concerns.

HRCP demanded an independent audit of the 2024 elections under the supervision of a parliamentary body, emphasising that security and intelligence agencies should play no role in managing the electoral process or its outcomes. The report also calls for a debate in parliament regarding the utility of the caretaker government scheme.

Furthermore, HRCP stressed the importance of seamless cellular and internet services on polling day and demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to publish all Forms 45, 46, 48, and 49 in accordance with the Elections Act 2017.

The report suggested that in cases where the number of rejected ballots exceeded the margin of victory, the ECP should order ballot recounts upon receiving petitions from aggrieved political parties or candidates.

The HRCP report concludes that the integrity of the 2024 elections was compromised not only due to the lack of competence on the part of the ECP but also because of constant pressure from extra-democratic quarters and questionable decisions by the caretaker government, documented by HRCP in the year preceding the polls.

The report emphasised the critical need for all political parties to collectively uphold and protect civilian supremacy through consistent, meaningful, and inclusive political dialogue, asserting that the true casualties of these elections have been democratic values, the rule of law, and the aspirations of ordinary